1. Think about what you need

Find services

Family Law - Getting legal help in Family Law
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Community Advocacy & Legal Centre (CALC)
Legal Aid Ontario (LAO)
Ontario's Family Law Limited Scope Services Project

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Where can I find a lawyer to help with my family law issue?
This question has an answer and 5 steps

1. Think about what you need

Think about the type of lawyer you want to work with. For example, do they:

  • have experience dealing with cases like yours
  • can work with a disability you have
  • speak a language you understand or can help you find an interpreter
  • accepts a legal aid certificate, if you have one or are eligible for one

Think about where the lawyer is located. You may need to meet with them or give them important documents many times. For this reason, you may prefer a lawyer who is close to your home or workplace.

Make a list of a few lawyers to contact. You may need to call a few lawyers before finding one that will take your case and you’re comfortable with.

Unbundled services

Some lawyers provide "unbundled services" or "limited scope retainer" services. This means you hire them to help with a certain part of your legal problem only. Unbundled services can also be called limited scope services, unbundled legal services, or legal coaching.

Unbundled services can include one or more of: 

  • Legal advice: meeting with a lawyer to get advice on what your legal options are
  • Preparing documents: a lawyer prepares your documents, for example, a court application or a separation agreement
  • Appearances: a lawyer represents you in legal situations, for example, at a court hearing, or at a case conference
  • Coaching: a lawyer guides you through the court process, or explains how to submit evidence

This option is useful if you can’t afford to hire a lawyer to help with the whole legal problem. Or for example, if you hired a lawyer to help with your problem, but now don’t have enough money left to keep paying them.

Lawyers who offer unbundled services usually charge a flat fee. You may have to pay this fee before they help you. Usually you don’t have to pay any other deposit or retainer.

Some lawyers have websites that say if they offer unbundled services. Others do not, but if you ask them, they may be willing to offer it to you.

You can find directories of lawyers that offer unbundled services on the The National Self-Represented Litigants Project website and Ontario's Family Law Limited Scope Services Project website.

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Reviewed: July 31, 2017

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