By Valerie L. Brown of Brown Law Firm Professional Corporation
Separating Families know that separation comes with both an emotional and a financial cost. New clients often ask for some estimate of cost, which is an impossible question to answer; it will depend on the complexity of the issues, the reasonableness of the parties, as well as other factors. The only thing I can guarantee clients is that “the higher the conflict, the higher the cost”.
Regardless of the cost, Family Law Lawyers recognize the barrier finances can have to effective participation in the court process, or out of court negotiation/settlement. Retaining a Family Lawyer to handle all of your case is beyond the means of the average Ontarian.
Legal Aid Financial Eligibility Threshold
Legal Aid may be of assistance to cover all or part of your legal fees if your income falls below a certain level ($16,728 for singles, $35,088 for a family of 3, for example). However, for most people, that will not be the case.
Unbundled Services/Limited Scope Retainer
For those families who do not qualify for Legal Aid, but realistically cannot afford to hire a lawyer to represent them, unbundles services (or a Limited Scope Retainer) may be an affordable option. This form of retainer gives you the benefit of having a lawyer, while keeping your costs down, by allowing you to determine what aspects of your case you need help with.
Legal Coaching and Advice
Another option is to retain a Family Lawyer to guide you through the process and to provide you with advice along the way. This could include legal coaching, opinions, independent legal advice during mediation/negotiation, and reviewing and providing feedback on legal documents. It’s up to you!
One recent initiative by Family Law Lawyers on Ontario to assist Self Represented parties is the Ontario’s Family Law Limited Scope Services Project. It is an online resource for self represented parties, as well as a means to connect Lawyers and parties for unbundles services.
I encourage you to consider this as an affordable option to help you with what are life changing decisions/experiences. You do not have to go through it alone. If you would like to discuss your options further, please contact Valerie Brown.