Family Court Support Program
COVID-19 and Family Court
VSLG is committed to keeping our clients, our staff and our communities as safe as possible during this difficult time. Staff continue to work 24 hours a day / 7 days a week as per our normal schedule and our Our Family Court Support Program is continuing to run remotely. . Our Family Court Support Worker will be relying on telephone, texting, email and video technologies in keeping with World Health Organization policies. On-scene or in-person responses are at the request of our emergency partners only. We recognize that this is a stressful time and will do our best to ensure all individual's needs are met to the best of our ability and within the mandate of our services.
From Luke's Place (below):
Luke’s Place Support and Resource Centre wants everyone supporting women fleeing abuse to have up-to-date information about what family law services and supports are available across Ontario at this time.
• Ontario’s courts have suspended their regular operations
• Filing counters remain open with reduced hours (10 a.m. – 12 noon and 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.), but this could change at any time
• Documents for urgent matters only can be filed electronically: https://www.ontario.ca/page/file-divorce-application-online
• Duty counsel services are being provided remotely by Legal Aid Ontario. How this is being done will vary from one court jurisdiction to another. For more information: https://www.legalaid.on.ca/news/covid-19-update-on-our-client-services/
• Information and Referral Coordinator services will be available electronically. See below for contact information for IRCs across the province
• There will be some flexibility and understanding that not all documents being filed will be as professionally put together and as complete as is usually required. As long as affidavits contain detailed evidence, this should be acceptable
• Urgent matters that will be heard by the court include: custody, access, child protection, failure to return children, restraining orders, exclusive possession of the matrimonial home and, especially when the financial situation may preclude a woman from being able to get to a safe place, support
• Triage judges are in place at each family court to determine which cases are urgent
• See the end of this document for a tip sheet on safety planning for women living with an abusive partner
Accessing family law advice and assistance
Virtual Legal Clinic
Luke’s Place is opening its Virtual Legal Clinic (VLC) to women using any VAW service in any part of Ontario in order to increase access to family law support for women fleeing abuse. The VLC connects a woman with a family law lawyer via a web-based video conferencing program, for a summary legal advice consultation.
We have modified our protocols for using the VLC so that women can access a consultation whether or not they are in a shelter. Appointment requests must come through a VAW/woman-serving organization.
To learn more about the VLC, see information on our website at: https://lukesplace.ca/for-women/lukes-place-virtual-legal-clinic/
If you would like your clients to be able to access the VLC, please contact us at:
email@example.com and/or 905-728-0978 ext. 230.
Other special legal services
LAO’s Client Lawyer Service Centre can be reached at 1-800-668-8257, for summary legal advice about a family law issue.
Please note that, for the time being, financial eligibility requirements for summary legal advice are being waived. https://www.legalaid.on.ca/news/changes-to-summary-legal-advice-services-at-legal-aid-ontario-due-to-covid-19-pandemic/
The Law Society of Ontario has opened a new help line for people requiring urgent legal assistance: 1-800-268-7568 or 416-947-3310
Contact our Family Court Support Worker for more assistance - firstname.lastname@example.org / 613-925-0155 (leave a message)
General Information the Family Court Support Program
The overall objective of the Family Court Support program is to provide support for both male and female victims of domestic violence who are involved in or considering becoming involved in the family court process. Goals also include safety planning and related activities to enhance victim safety by reducing the risk of future violence and to increase a victim’s access to services and supports. Information and resources may be shared in person, over the phone and/or resources distributed via regular or electronic mail.
Some of these goals are achieved through the following activities;
- assisting clients to record the history of abuse for court documents. The worker will also provide information in regards to family court documents, ensuring the client understands the purpose and goal of all documents and how to fill them out properly and in a timely manner whenever possible.
- debriefing and discussing court outcomes, lawyer appointments, Family Law Information Clinic meetings, consultations with duty counsel and assist with the required next steps as dictated by these meetings.
- accompaniment to court proceedings and / or lawyer appointments and case conferences where appropriate and / or assist with obtaining the required transportation in order to attend these meetings.
- communication with criminal court based services, such as VWAP, where appropriate and in accordance with agency protocols.
- communication with other family court based services and referral sources to promote the seamless delivery of information and support where appropriate in accordance with agency protocols.