For family lawyers

Questions & answers

If you cannot find your question about these changes to family law services, please submit it in the form below.

Independent legal advice certificate

Q. Will mediators be covered under the independent legal advice certificate?

The certificate only covers independent legal advice from a family panel lawyer. Clients who are financially eligible may qualify for free mediation services from LAO. Those who do not may be able to receive subsidized mediation services from a Ministry of Attorney General-approved mediator.

Q. Im a lawyer but not a family panel lawyer. How do I get on the panel?

Lawyers can contact their district office about empanelment. Get more information on how to get onto a legal aid panel.

Q. Im a mediator. How do I get referrals from LAO?

LAO has staff mediators in certain locations, but also refers clients to Ministry of Attorney General-approved mediators. The Ministry of the Attorney General selects its mediation service providers through an RFP process. They usually put the mediation contracts for various locations throughout the province out to tender. For more information about this process, please contact the Ministry of the Attorney General directly.

Q. What are the criteria for referral to mediation?

These matters qualify for referral to mediation:

  • Custody, access, child or spousal support matter (single issue or in combination)
  • Child and Family Services Act matters
  • The separating individuals are creating a parenting or separation agreement
  • The separated parties are changing an existing agreement or order
  • The separated parties are in the court process but have not yet started their final hearing or trial.

Q. What are the benefits of receiving independent legal advice?

Mediation clients can receive support from a lawyer before, during and after entering into any legal agreement based on the mediation. Clients can receive advice from a lawyer about the mediation process, assistance in preparing for the mediation, or information that helps them develop a better understanding of their options. The lawyer can also assist with obtaining a court order or binding agreement to enforce the terms of the mediation agreement.

Q. How do clients apply for an independent legal advice certificate?"

Mediation clients can call LAO toll-free at 1-800-668-8258 to see if they are financially eligible for independent legal advice. If they qualify, they will be referred to a list of available family panel lawyers.

Q. How do clients get a referral to this service?

While LAO subscribes to a no wrong door concept when helping clients, clients will receive the fastest possible service by calling LAOs toll-free line.

Q. If clients are already in mediation, can they still apply for ILA?

Yes. With an ILA certificate, clients can receive advice from a lawyer before, during or after the mediation.

Q. What is the financial eligibility test for an opposing party if one party is eligible?

The cap is $50,000. Both parties should still contact LAOs toll-free line at 1-800-668-8258 to see if they qualify.

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Separation agreement certificate

Q. How do clients apply for a separation agreement certificate?

Clients can call LAOs toll-free line at 1-800-668-8258 for screening to determine financial and legal eligibility. Clients who qualify will be provided with a certificate number and a list of lawyers they can retain. Clients can also be referred to this service by duty counsel or advice counsel.

Q. How does a lawyer acknowledge a separation agreement certificate?

Lawyers must log in to Legal Aid Online and acknowledge these certificates before they can assist clients.

Q. What happens if the parties arent able to resolve their matter by way of separation agreement?

If the parties need to proceed to litigation, they may be eligible for additional assistance from LAO. Clients (or their counsel) will need to contact LAOs toll-free line for an assessment to determine eligibility for a litigation certificate (or authorization).

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Enhanced child protection tariff

Q. Why are only child protection matters receiving an enhanced tariff?

LAO has been working on the development of an enhanced tariff for two years. With the $30 million provincial investment focused on family law and community legal clinics, LAO was able to move forward with this tariff enhancement.

The Family Lawyers Association (FLA) submitted papers to LAO advocating for an increase in the tariff to ensure greater accountability for work billed and ensure all appropriate steps are taken in child protection cases. LAO will continue to review other recommendations proposed by the FLA.

Q. Why arent supervision orders and voluntary care agreements subject to the same enhancements?

While this particular enhancement focuses on crown and society wardship matters, were continuing to assess the other recommendations from the FLA.

The tariff enhancements we are doing reflect the priority of the FLAs recommendations.

Q. On what date will new CFSA certificates receive the enhanced tariff?

Certificates issued on or after Nov. 3, 2014 will automatically include the new tariff hours. Certificates issued prior to Nov. 3, 2014 that have not been billed, may be eligible for additional authorizations to increase the available hours to the new tariff if requested.

For example: If you have a certificate issued Jan. 1, 2014 for crown wardship (22 hours) and it has not been billed, you may ask the district office to add an additional 23 hours for a total for 45 hours.

The enhanced tariff will also apply to any authorizations requested or added after Nov. 3, 2014.

For example: If trial authorization is requested and added after Nov. 3, 2014, it will be for the enhanced tariff.

Q. What types of CFSA matters will receive the enhanced tariff?

LAO is increasing hours for:

  • Society wardship
  • Crown wardship
  • Status review

Q. I have a certificate that I just acknowledged Oct. 6. Will it be eligible for the enhanced tariff?

Yes. For newly acknowledged certificates, if an account has not been submitted, we will replace the current wording with the new wording after Nov. 3, 2014. If your certificate is not corrected automatically, please contact the district office.

If an account has already been submitted, you may ask the district office to add an additional authorization for the difference between the current tariff and the enhanced tariff (26 hours for society and 23 hours for crown wardship.)

Q. I have submitted an account but havent received payment yet. Will I be paid under the enhanced tariff?

Yes. Any unprocessed accounts where discretion is requested will be processed by LSP in accordance with the new enhanced tariff. If necessary, discretion will still be considered if the total amount billed exceeds the new tariff. If an interim account was submitted within tariff, you should ask the district office to add the additional authorization to support future accounts.

Q. I have recently received payment for an account and the full amount of discretion was not paid. Can the account be reconsidered under the enhanced tariff?

Yes. If an account was not paid in full and the account was paid between Sept. 3, 2014 and Nov. 2, 2014, you may ask that the account be reviewed. LSP will review the account to determine if additional hours should be paid in accordance with the enhanced tariff.

As of the date of this announcement, LSP will defer processing discretion requests which are eligible for the enhanced tariff until Nov. 3 to avoid the need to seek a review.

Q. I received 10 hours of discretion on an interim account paid six months ago? Are future accounts eligible for the enhanced tariff?

You may ask the district office to add additional authorizations to increase the tariff to the enhanced rate. If the authorization is added, the additional tariff hours will be available to bill.

Q. I have billed for services to date and now need to seek authorization for a status review. Will I be eligible for the enhanced tariff for the status review?

Yes. If you have an older certificate and ask for a status review authorization after Nov. 3, 2014, the new authorization will be for 10 hours or 25 hours.

Q. I have authorization for trial and have already billed three days. Will future trial days be eligible for the increased preparation time?

Yes. Accounts submitted after Nov. 3, 2014 for trial will be settled by LSP based on the six hours for preparation for each subsequent trial date. Accounts should be billed online for the six hours and discretion must be requested. These accounts will come to LSP to process.

Q. I have an account I should have submitted by July 10, 2014 but I missed the deadline. Will the account be eligible for the enhanced tariff?

No. Accounts that were due prior to Nov. 3, 2014 which are late billed, will not be eligible for the enhanced tariff.

Q. I have a complex CFSA Crown wardship certificate. I was thinking of applying for a Mid-level Case Management budget. Do I still need to do this, or is the new tariff plus discretion sufficient?

If the case meets the requirements for Mid-level Case Management, a budget should be requested. This provides predictability of payment and is likely to provide hours in excess of the enhanced tariff plus discretion.

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If you cannot find your question about these changes to family law services, please submit it in via the form below.

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