Public consultation: Expanding Legal Services Options for Families

Text: Larger | Smaller

Ontario is considering whether or not paralegals and other legal service providers, such as law students and law clerks, should provide legal assistance in certain family law matters.

Comment period

The comment period for this consultation is now closed.

Background Information

Read the consultation document.

During this consultation, the ministry sought public input on whether or not paralegals and other legal service providers, such as law students and law clerks, should provide legal assistance in certain family law matters. The information collected will help inform the review being led by the Honourable Justice Annemarie E. Bonkalo.

For more information, please email us at FamilyLegalServicesReview@ontario.ca.

Family law in Ontario

Family Law includes divorce and separation, child custody and access, and child support. By law, only lawyers are qualified to provide legal advice and representation on family law matters before the courts.

Every day, more and more Ontarians are choosing to go to family court without legal help – either because they can’t afford a lawyer, or they believe they can manage on their own.

Unfortunately, the family justice system can be difficult to navigate without proper legal help, and many who choose to represent themselves struggle with the complex legal procedures involved. Sometimes, this lack of legal expertise can affect the outcome of a case.

That’s why Ontario, together with the Law Society of Upper Canada, is consulting the public on making family legal services more accessible by expanding the choice of available legal services providers.

Exploring new ways to provide family legal services

The Honourable Justice Annemarie E. Bonkalo has been appointed to lead a review that will help seek answers to the following key questions:

  • Which types of legal services, if provided by paralegals and other legal service providers, could improve the family justice system?
  • Should paralegals and other legal service providers, such as law clerks and law students, be allowed to handle certain family law matters?
  • How should the Province and the Law Society of Upper Canada ensure the accountability of persons such as paralegals, law clerks and law students, if they are allowed to handle certain family law matters?

Justice Bonkalo will also be holding focused discussions with key stakeholders in the legal community. She will use the information collected during this consultation to inform her recommendations to the Ontario government and the Law Society of Upper Canada.

For further information, please read the Terms of Reference.