Getting help in the courtroom
Family duty counsel
If you need help with a family law issue such as child custody, support or access, family duty counsel may be able to assist you. In family cases, duty counsel advises you about family law issues, and provides information about basic court procedure. You must be financially eligible for some types of duty counsel assistance.
Family duty counsel are lawyers who can:
- give advice about legal rights, obligations, and the court process
- help negotiate and settle issues
- review or prepare court documents to be filed
Family duty counsel can also provide assistance in the courtroom with:
- child protection hearings
- garnishment and support hearings
- requesting adjournments
- arguing motions
- hearings for issues such as custody, access, or support where the issues are not complicated
Getting ready for your first court appearance
There are several ways to get information before your court appearance. If you are attending family court for the first time, take a look at the Family Law Information Program. This free online information guide explains the court process and defines many of the legal terms you’re likely to hear.
If you want legal advice on your family matter before your court date, you can speak to an advice lawyer a few days before your scheduled appearance. Advice lawyer services are available weekdays through Family Law Information Centres across Ontario.
If you are seeing an advice lawyer, remember to bring all documents regarding your case. This will allow the lawyer to provide more specific advice about your case. If you do not have any documents, the advice lawyer can still give general advice and information about the court processes.