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.   

 
 
How to Apply

If you wish to apply for family legal aid, the first step is to contact your local legal aid office for an appointment or drop by. If your legal problem is a covered service, the intake officer will continue the application process and will need to figure out if you meet the financial eligibility criteria.

   
Eligibility Criteria

Generally, people with low income or those on social assistance qualify for covered serives. Legal Aid determines who is eligible for legal representation based on the following criteria:
  • Your income – including salary, wages, commissions, other income, pension, allowances, and any other benefits received;
  • Your expenses – including cost of food, clothing, household supplies, shelter, utilities, transportation, medical and dental, and other reasonable expenses;
  • The value of your assets – including property, house, motor vehicle, cash, bonds, stocks, and any other assets that can be converted into cash;
  • Any liabilities you have – including any debt you currently have;
  • Your family situation – spouse and how many children you have;
  • The type of legal service required – Remember, not all legal proceedings are covered by legal aid. For example, proceedings related to divorce are not covered.
   


What to Bring to Your Appointment

You should bring as much information as possible to show your income, assets, debts, and expenses. For example:

  • Identification (e.g. Social insurance card, driver’s license, or Medicare card);
  • Proof of current income (e.g. recent pay stubs, income assistance stubs or Employment Insurance statements);
  • Proof of monthly expenses and bills (e.g. rent, mortgage payments, credit cards, telephone, heat, electricity and water, car insurance, etc.);
  • Bank statements or bank books;
  • Deed for your house;
  • Proof of unusual expenses (e.g. medical expenses).
   
In addition, you should bring all existing court documentation relating to your case (e.g court orders, separation agreements, etc.).

 

After you make an application for representation in a family law matter, it may take 1– 3 months to be screened in and have your first meeting with the lawyer who will represent you.

Legal Aid will assess the legal merit of each case when you first come in, 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.

In emergency situations, Legal Aid may prioritize cases such as when a victim of spousal abuse needs a family court order on an urgent basis.

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 a 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 law matters NOT covered by Legal Aid include:
  • Applications for Divorce proceedings;
  • Variation of any order made under the Divorce Act (including child support);
  • Division of marital property;
  • Variation of spousal support.

     

 


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.