Legal Aid


 

 

FAMILY LAW  SERVICES

Getting Help

Legal Aid also helps low income individuals deal with family law matters. Legal Aid gives priority to screening cases that are urgent or can directly benefit children.

Outside of the covered family matters, Legal Aid does not provide help with other kinds of legal problems such as real estate transactions, adoption, immigration law, or civil suits, such as people suing one another.

The following is an overview of Legal Aid Services, it is not a complete list of what is, and is not covered, so be sure to contact your local Legal Aid office about your specific situation. How you apply depends on your situation and what kind of legal service you are seeking.

 

Family Duty Counsel:
 
NBLASC provides one session with duty counsel for all first appearances in the following situations:
  1. All Respondents named in child protection matters brought to the Court by the Minister of Social Development;
  2. All Respondent matters brought before the Court by Applicants who are represented by NBLASC counsel;
  3. All matters put before the Court by the Director of Support Enforcement;
  4. All Applications for support made on behalf of the Minister of Social Development – Human Resources Division;
  5. All matters brought before the Court on behalf of the Attorney General pursuant to the Interjurisdictional Support Orders Act; and
  6. All confirmation hearings initiated by an agent for the Attorney General pursuant to the Divorce Act.
     
Because of the summary nature of Duty Counsel assistance, the function of court duty counsel is limited to the following:
  1. Advising unrepresented parties about their legal rights and obligations;
  2. Reviewing court documents and assisting in preparing financial statements in limited circumstances; and
  3. Attending court with unrepresented parties to request adjournments, obtain consent orders, assist in uncontested hearings regarding custody, access and support where issues are not complex and assist in default and “show cause” hearings. 
 
How to Apply

Respondents can access Duty Counsel for certain family law matters right at the courthouse; however they are encouraged to contact their local office regarding duty counsel coverage. Respondents should arrive at the courthouse 30 minutes before their scheduled court time.

There is no financial eligibility criteria for duty counsel services.


 

Family Legal Aid: 


Child Protection Proceedings: 
If you are the custodial parent named as a Respondent in an Application made by the Minister of Social Development asking the court for a supervisory order, custody or permanent guardianship of your child, you can apply for legal aid. If you meet the financial eligibility criteria you may receive a certificate to have a lawyer represent you. 

Child and Spousal Support: 
If you meet the financial eligibility criteria, a Family Solicitor can help you to obtain child and/or spousal support. They may also be able to help you change (vary) a child support order if it was made under the Family Services Act.  Family Solicitors can also help a parent receiving child support respond to a motion by the other party to change it.

Custody and Access:
If you are eligible, a Family Solicitor may be able to handle your application for custody or access of the children under the Family Services Act.   

 
 
How to Apply

The first step is to contact your local legal aid office to schedule an appointment.

   
Eligibility Criteria

Generally, people with low income or those on social assistance qualify for covered services. Legal Aid determines who is eligible for legal representation based on scope of service and financial eligibility.

Scope of Service

Type of legal service required - Not all legal proceedings are covered by legal aid. Family matters NOT covered include:
  • Any and all proceedings filed pursuant to the Divorce Act either as Applicant or Respondent;
  • Variation of any order made under the Divorce Act (including child support);
  • Division of marital property;
  • Variation of spousal support.
 
Financial Eligibility

Financial eligibility is determined based on the following three factors:
 
1. Income: Your income includes salary, wages, commissions, boarder income, other income, pension, allowances, and any other benefits received. Income earned by your spouse/common-law partner who resides in your household and dependants included under paragraph (b) (see "Household Size" below) is also included in the calculation.

Sources of income NOT included are:
  • Child Tax Benefit or Canada Child Benefit (previously called Universal Child Care Benefit);
  • GST Rebates;
  • Income Tax Refunds;
  • Bursaries or grants received from an education institution or student loans;
  • The gross income of your dependants included under paragraph (a) (see "Household Size" below).
2. Allowable Deductions: The following expenses paid by yourself, your spouse/common-law partner, or dependants included under paragraph (b) (see "Household Size" below) are deducted from your income.

Allowable deductions include:
  • Child care payments (Daycare, Babysitter, etc);
  • Child and spousal support payments;
  • Medical or dental expenses that are not covered by an insurance plan, if the annual expenses are $1,500 or more.
3. Household Size: Includes the following people:
  • Yourself;
  • Your current spouse/common-law partner;
  • Children under 18 years of age who live with you at least 40% of the time;
  • Dependants:

a) between the ages of 18 and 25 (inclusive) who are registered at an educational institution and who reside with you at least 40% of the time.

b) 18 years of age or over, who suffers from absence or reduction of functional competence because of physical or mental impairment which substantially limits their ability to carry out normal daily activities and who reside with you at least 40% of the time.

 
   

What to Bring to Your Appointment

You should bring as much information as possible to show your income and allowable deductions, as well as those of your current spouse/common-law partner and dependants referred to in paragraph (b) (see "Household Size" above).

  • Identification (e.g. Social insurance card, driver’s license, or Medicare card).
  • Proof of income (e.g. pay stubs received during thirty (30) days prior to date of application, income assistance stubs or Employment Insurance statements; other proof as required).

    • Are you seasonally employed on a regular basis?
      • If yes, in addition to the proof of income listed above please bring your most recent Income Tax Notice of Assessment.

    • Are you in receipt of Social Assistance Benefits?
      • If yes, please bring your most recent deposit slip and your white or yellow health card issued by Social Assistance.

  • Proof of allowable deductions (e.g. receipts).
  • Court documentation: You should bring all existing court documentation relating to your case (e.g. court orders, separation agreements, etc.).

 

Your income (after allowable deductions have been subtracted) and household size are located on our Income Grid to determine financial eligibility. The Income Grid and additional information can be found on our Cost of Services page.

After you make an application for representation in a family law matter, Legal Aid will usually notify you of the outcome of your application within 1-2 weeks. If you have been approved, your lawyer will contact you to schedule a meeting. It may be a few months before you have your first meeting with the lawyer who will represent you. In emergency situations, Legal Aid may prioritize cases such as when a victim of spousal abuse need a family court order on an urgent basis. 

Legal Aid will assess the legal merit of each case when you first meet with your lawyer, and on a continuous basis to be sure that there is a reasonable likelihood of achieving the desired result. 

In family law matters, the lawyer representing you may require that you register and take the parenting after separation course, called For the Sake of the Children, as a condition to continuing their legal representation.

You may apply for family legal aid even if your spouse has already applied.  If both of you meet the eligibility requirements, one of you will probably be represented by an NBLASC staff Family Solicitor and the other may get a certificate to have a family law lawyer in private practice represent him or her. This is done to avoid any potential conflicts.

 


Family Advice Lawyer:

Family Advice Lawyers are available at the new Family Law Information Centre in Saint John.  If you live in Saint John, call 658-2261 for an appointment for up to two hours of consultation on how the court works, the rules of court, and the forms you must file in family law actions. You can also get general information on family law matters.

Individuals in other regions can call toll free 1-855-266-0266 to find a Family Advice Lawyer in their area.