Scarborough community legal clinics inaugurate family law services

Posted: Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Note: an edit was made to this post on March 17, 2015 at 12:30 p.m.

Clients in Scarborough will now be able to access family law services for the first time.

Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) is working in collaboration with the Scarborough-area community legal clinics and with the East Scarborough Storefront to provide family law services directly to clients. The launch of the new services marks the first time family law assistance has been offered to low-income clients by community legal clinics in Scarborough. LAO is funding this family law initiative through additional funding announced by the Ontario government in May 2013.

The new services, which include summary legal advice, will be provided by lawyer Ana Rico.

Ana, who specializes in family law with an emphasis on domestic violence issues, will assist and advise clients during appointments in Scarborough each weekday.

Under a proposed schedule, currently subject to change, counsel will be available at:

  • West Scarborough Community Legal Services on Mondays from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. & 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
  • East Scarborough Storefront on Tuesdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Scarborough Community Legal Services on Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. & 1:30 p.m. to 5 p.m.
  • East Toronto Community Legal Services on Thursdays from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. & 1:30 p.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Flemingdon Community Legal Services on Fridays from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. & 1:30 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Clients can call or visit a Scarborough community legal clinic in their area or the East Scarborough Storefront to make an appointment. After requesting an appointment at the clinic, the client will be given the phone number of the new family law coordinator or can provide their phone number to be contacted by the coordinator.

The coordinator will conduct a needs assessment based on the client’s matter, and perform a brief eligibility test over the phone. The coordinator can also arrange translation services for the client, if needed. If the client is eligible for the family law services, the coordinator will book an appointment at the clinic closest to the client’s residence.

At the clinic appointment, Ana will interview the client, review their financial eligibility documents and, if the client is eligible, provide family law assistance and advice.

More than 50 per cent of all family law legal aid certificates issued in the Toronto North district, which includes Scarborough, Etobicoke and North York, are issued in Scarborough. In Ontario’s family court, about half of all litigants are self-represented.

To help ease this situation, LAO launched a number of major family law initiatives over the past six years. They include:

  • separation agreement and independent legal advice certificates that let couples speak with a lawyer and avoid litigation
  • mediation services
  • funding for family law services at community legal clinics and Student Legal Aid Services Societies
  • increased hours with a lawyer for Child and Family Services Act cases.

The Scarborough family law service initiative is a direct client aid and part of LAO’s longer-term strategy to improve access to justice for low-income Ontarians. The strategy also provides non-adversarial options to families in the process of separation.

How to make an appointment

To make an appointment with the family lawyer, please call the family law coordinator, who is based at Flemingdon Community Legal Services.

Family Law Coordinator
Phone: 416-696-2992
Fax: 416-441-0269

For communication requests:

Josephine Li
Communications Advisor
Legal Aid Ontario
Tel: 416-979-2352, ext. 6015