Getting legal help

Family law

Family law is about relationships and rights within families. It includes divorce and separation, child custody and access, and support payment matters.

If you are entering the family court system for the first time, Legal Aid Ontario (LAO)'s free, online Family Law Information Program gives you basic information on the family court process, legal definitions and more.

Family law services


If you are financially eligible and your legal matter is covered by LAO, you may qualify for one of these services:

  • Summary legal advice: up to 20 minutes of general information and referrals given over the phone when you call LAO's toll-free number

  • Mediation: a voluntary process for parties with a dispute to work together to find workable solutions

  • Family law information centres: centres in many Ontario courthouses that deal with family matters; they offer you free legal assistance and advice if you don't have a lawyer

  • Family law information program: a free online resource for those about to enter the family court system.

  • Family law service centres: centres in certain regions of the province which provide services such as help with documents and representation by a lawyer

  • Family law offices: offices that assist with referrals and a range of legal services

  • Family duty counsel: family lawyers who work for LAO; if you don't have a lawyer, duty counsel can assist you in court with matters such as child custody or support.

  • Certificate program: a program for eligible Ontarians enabling them to apply for full representation by either a lawyer at a family law office or family law service centre, or a private lawyer who accepts legal aid clients.

  • Settlement conferences: private meetings between disputing parties and their lawyers to work toward a resolution.

  • The Ottawa Integrated Legal Services Office is a one-stop resource for eligible low-income people in the Ottawa area that provides a range of legal resources and support for family matters.


Other resources

Information on family law is available on the Ministry of the Attorney General's website.

See our Other Resources section for more family law information.
Please note that these are external links and we are not responsible for their content.