Legal Aid hopes to discourage fe

Legal Aid hopes to discourage feuding couples from acting as own lawyers

Legal Aid Ontario’s new benefits are aimed at many couples who can’t afford a lawyer and try to represent themselves in family law court.

 

Jana Saracevic, who was forced to represent herself in divorce proceedings after legal costs depleted the family assets, welcomes the expansion of Legal Aid Ontario benefits in family law cases.

 

Legal Aid Ontario is embarking on a significant expansion of legal services in family law that could chip away at the swelling masses of self-represented litigants and steer couples away from lengthy court battles.

A pair of programs, which will be announced Thursday, will offer financially eligible couples free access to a family lawyer to negotiate separation agreements and provide legal advice for mediation.

It is assistance that is desperately needed, says Jana Saracevic, who was forced to represent herself in divorce proceedings after she ran out of money for lawyers.

A rehabilitation therapist and mother of two, Saracevic, 50, did not qualify for legal aid. She said she was quickly overwhelmed by the intricacies of a system “designed by lawyers, for lawyers.”

“It consumes you,” she said. “You lose friends because no one wants to hear you anymore.”

Thomas Kelsey, director of family law services for Legal Aid Ontario in the GTA, said the two programs represent the organization’s most notable expansion of free legal services for family law cases in over a decade.

“It’s a big step,” Kelsey said. “It’s a whole different avenue that people can now access to resolve their family law problems.”

To qualify for the new programs, an individual with no dependants can now have a gross income of up to $18,000 a year (the threshold varies by household size). If one partner is financially eligible, the other also qualifies, as long as he or she earns no more than $50,000 a year.

The first program offers, among other services, up to 10 hours with a family lawyer to obtain and review disclosures, engage in settlement discussions and finalize a separation agreement.

The second program provides six hours of legal advice to those who choose mediation services; it has been piloted successfully in select locations since February. Financially eligible clients can get information about the mediation process and assistance in obtaining a court order or binding agreement to enforce a mediation agreement.

Julie Macfarlane, a law professor at the University of Windsor and leading researcher on the rise of self-represented litigants, called the changes “very important.”

“These are both well-used and generally effective ways of trying to ensure that people’s conflicts don’t really escalate,” she told the Star. “If you let people get really mired in this, it gets much harder to help them.”

After the province slashed funding for legal aid in family law in the mid-’90s, the percentage of self-represented litigants, once a relative rarity, exploded in Ontario’s unified family courts. Between 1995 and 1999, the numbers rose 500 per cent, Macfarlane said.

By 2011-2012, nearly three-quarters of those filing their cases at the Jarvis St. and Sheppard Ave. family courts in Toronto were without legal counsel, she said.

According to Ontario Superior Court Justice David Price, self-representation by family law litigants “diminishes the likelihood of settlement” and slows the process because the court must take time to explain the basics.

“Litigants who lack the ability or resources to secure the evidence they need, or an understanding of what outcome they can reasonably expect at trial, are apt to lack the confidence to settle their cases,” he said in an email. “They are then more likely to relinquish their decision-making power to a judge.”

Price said expanded legal aid funding for advice on separation agreements and free mediation services “can be expected to bring a significant improvement in the lot of self-represented litigants, and ease pressure on our courts.”

(The judge said his views are based on personal experience and do not reflect the official position of the court.)

Macfarlane’s research shows that many of those representing themselves in family law court don’t earn enough to afford a lawyer but earn too much to qualify for legal aid.

In Ontario, legal aid is offered in family law cases where these is spousal abuse or issues of child custody or protection. For a single person to qualify, his gross income can’t be more than $10,800 per year. That’s roughly half of Statistics Canada’s after-tax, low-income cut-off for a single person living in Toronto.

The province has not raised the financial thresholds, which vary by family size, since 1996. However, that could soon change. According to Michael Ferguson, a spokesman for Ontario’s attorney general, when the 2014 budget is reintroduced, it will include a proposal to increase the legal aid eligibility threshold by 6 per cent a year over the next seven years.

“We will continue to work with (Legal Aid) to provide legal aid services that are effective, sustainable and support our most vulnerable,” Ferguson said.

The initiatives unveiled Thursday will be funded with some of the additional money ($30 million over four years) announced in the 2013 provincial budget for Legal Aid Ontario.

Saracevic said she is hopeful that by getting help “at the beginning stages of the separation,” more couples will be able to reach a settlement “before people get angry … and lose their trust.”

Over the course of her legal battle, which began in 2008, she has borrowed money on several occasions to hire new lawyers, only to see those funds exhausted and having to return once again to representing herself.

She sardonically jokes that going it alone in family court is like a lyric from the Eagles’ song, “Hotel California.”

“You can sign in any time you want,” she said, “but you can never leave.”

 

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Commentary by the Ottawa Mens Centre

Ontario Legal Aid views eligibility though a Gender Lens. Male victims of domestic violence are rejected or have their legal aid cancelled. Then the Ontario Government uses it's own highly paid lawyers to fight by foul and underhanded mean, any application for the court to fund a lawyer even in Child Protection matters.

Now, violent abusive mothers who come to court with concrete evidence of abuse of children and father, are making false allegations to have children removed from fathers, and placed with the violent mother using the Ontario's Criminal Cartel of Children's Aid Societies as an indirect way of funding Violent Women with a billion dollars a year that could all be avoided if Ontario make child protection a Government Department.


Ontario Legal Aid FABRICATE EVIDENCE to Deny Legal Aid Claims and even worse, refuse certificates issued by other provinces to Male victims of domestic violence.

According to Ontario's Feminist Government, it's illegal to be a male victim of domestic violence and Female perpetrators of unprovoked violence against children just don't exist.

Thanks to our decades of corrupt Fascist Liberal Government who believe in Gender Superiority.

Ottawa Mens Centre

 

 

Our Decades of Corrupt Liberal Government have taken from Legal aid and now pour Billions of Dollars into Extreme Feminist ideas that operate literally hundreds of "one stop divorce shops" and the Criminal Cartel of Ontario Children's Aid Societies who believe they have the Power of God whose basis for operation is to Promote Violence towards Fathers.

The Ontario Government funds many more billions of dollars into Gender Superiority Programs like that operated by the Ottawa Police, out of some $400 Million dollars a year, around 75% is spent on Partner Assault, that claims, 90% of all victims are female. They spend their time Charging, male victims of domestic violence.

One single rotten cop, like Detective Peter Van Der Zander who get's paid $100,000 a year, can generate many millions of dollars of litigation and child protect costs simply by fabricating evidence to NOT CHARGE violent women.

One Single Rotten Crown Attorney like TARA DOBEC of Ottawa gets paid $200,000 a year while she single highhandedly costs Ontario Billions of Taxpayers dollars, by zealously prosecuting Male Victims of Domestic violence and STAYING CHARGES against Violent women and lawyers who Fabricate Evidence personally like CAS lawyer Marguerite Isobel Lewis, aka "The Baby Snatcher of Ottawa".

Ottawa Mens Centre

 

Our Decades of C-orrupt L-ib-eral Government have taken from Legal aid and now pour Billions of Dollars into Extreme Fem-inist ideas that operate literally hundreds of "one stop divorce shops" and the C-riminal C-artel of Ontario Chil-dren's Aid Soci-eties who believe they have the Power of God whose basis for operation is to Promote Violence towards Fat-hers.

The Ontario Government funds many more billions of dollars into Gender Superiority Programs like that operated by the Ottawa Police, out of some $400 Million dollars a year, around 75% is spent on Partner Ass-ault, that claims, 90% of all vic-tims are female. They spend their time Charging, male victims of domestic violence.

One single rotten cop, like Detective Peter Van Der Zan-der who get's paid $100,000 a year, can generate many millions of dollars of litigation and child protect costs simply by fabricating evidence to NOT CHARGE violent women.

One Single Rotten Crown Attorney like TA-RA DO-BEC of Ottawa gets paid $200,000 a year while she single highhandedly costs Ontario Billions of Taxpayers dollars, by zealously prosecuting Male Victims of Domestic violence and STAYING CHARGES against Violent women and lawyers who Fabricate Evidence personally like CAS lawyer Marg-uerite Iso-bel Lew-is, aka "The Baby Snat-cher of Ott-awa".

Ottawa Mens Centre

 

The Ontario Government fails to put out the flames that ignite litigation instead of funding those who pour fuel on the fires for their own interests.

First Ontario needs to do a clean sweep of the present corrupt judicial selection panels that choose, the psychopaths and professionally and morally corrupt slime of humanity that become "judges" the dirtiest form of human being in Ontario, who, reward criminals with massive billion dollar funding.

Second, Ontario needs to make Child Protection a Government Department with full accountability, instead of Judges who simply Rubber Stamp what ever CAS want which is dictated by "Hired Pens", low life corrupt "shrinks" who write to order.

While this corrupt cess pool of abuse of power remains, Ontario will continue its Economic Spiral Dive.

Ottawa Mens Centre


@dittomuch Good Point if you remove the gender. Judges discriminate heavily against self-represented litigants male or female, while ignoring blatant criminal offenses in the court room by lawyers who, regardless of outright perjury or fabrication of evidence, are given a cart blanche to spend decades leaving trails of destruction that cost Ontario far more than the legal aid is worth to ensure representation.

Ontario is in the middle of an economic spiral dive and regardless of how obvious the causes are, Ontario Liberals support the preesent mega billion dollar funding of outright criminal organizations, dressed up as "Authorities" such as Police and Child Protection who operate Billion Dollar Criminal Cartels that has the direct effect of billions of dollars of Provincial DEBT spent on the funding of State Funded Terrorism.

Ottawa Mens Centre

 

 

Ontario Politicians have failed to address the Root Causes of Ontario's Economic and Legal Disintegration.

With respect to Legal Aid, Ontario literally starts fires and refuses to pay to put them out while funding, pouring fuel on the fires.

Ontario Police for example are increasingly refusing to provide disclosure because it will exonerate the accused but claim, its not relevant.

Judges can get away with outrageous examples of bias including fabricating evidence personally, and, then refuse to remove themselves. Ethical Judges on the other hand, remove themselves at the slightest perception of perceived bias.

When Legal Aid cancels Criminal and in particular Child Protection Legal aid, the costs to society are astronomical by comparison for which our Corrupt Liberals don't give a dam. As long as they can show decreasing figures spent on legal aid, it has no relevance what so ever to the escalating Court Dockets and the loss of income earners to the Province.


Ontario can start with a real legal presumption of Equal parenting and an end to the Criminal Cartel called the Children's Aid Societies of Ontario.

Ottawa Mens Centre