Divorce and Separation, Parenting, Student Life

Understanding the law is complicated. But you don’t have to do it alone!

Navigating the legal world is tough. Without expertise, it can be challenging to understand all the information you need to know to protect your rights and the rights of your family.

Whether you have questions about family law, want to understand how the law protect you as a consumer, need clarification on your rights as an employee or an employers or are looking to find out more about your rights as a tenant, there are places you can go for help.

Image Caption: Law Books, CC Image Courtesy of Mr.TinDC

Image Caption: Law Books, CC Image Courtesy of Mr.TinDC

CLEO (Community Legal Education Ontario) provides a comprehensive collection of resources, both online and print, that address all of the above questions and much more. You can access legal information in a number of languages and through a range of formats including video and audio files. The resources provided by CLEO are written for people like us. They are clear and easy to read (and avoid legal jargon that can be tough to understand!).

Downtown Legal Services (DLS) is a community legal clinic operated by the Faculty of Law at the University of Toronto. They provide a range of free legal services for University of Toronto students, as well as low-income residents of Toronto, in five areas of law: criminal law, family law, refugee and immigration law, tenant housing and university affairs. In the family law division, you can access information and advicw  on a variety of issues, including custody, access, support and restraining orders. However, it is important to note that DLS cannot assist with divorce cases, division of property and child protection. Wondering if DLS can help you? Give them a call at 416 978-6447 (Please note: DLS is not a drop in centre, so you must call ahead of time!)

Kensington- Bellwoods Community Legal Services also serves residents near the U of T campus – in the area bounded by Ossington/ Strachan Avenues, Yonge Street, Bloor Street and Lake Ontario. If you do not live in this area, find out which community legal clinic serves your neighbourhood. Community legal clinics provide support on housing, employment, immigration and refugee, human rights, social assistance and domestic violence law. They can also refer you to other places for support if they aren’t directly able to help you. In order to be eligible for most community legal clinic services, you must be considered a low-income person according to Legal Aid Ontario’s guidelines. If you’re unsure of whether or not you qualify, call your local clinic.

If you think you might need a lawyer and can’t get the supports you need from Downtown Legal Services (DLS) or the community  legal clinic in your area,  you can use the Law Society of Upper Canada’s Referral service to request a lawyer or paralegal referral online. The Law Society will provide you with the name of a lawyer in your community (as long as they have a match available) who will provide a free consultation of up to 30 minutes to help you determine your rights and options. It’s important to remember that these referrals are not for free legal services, if you choose to proceed with legal action following your initial consultation, you will have to pay. During the consultation, remember to ask what it would cost to have your legal work done.

Need more support? Contact the Family Care Office and we can help direct you to the right services depending on your needs.

Emma Helfand-Green

Emma is in her second year of the Master of Public Policy program. She recently completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Guelph, studying psychology and political science. When she is not blogging for the Family Care Office, you might find Emma volunteering at the Hart House theatre, working hard (or hardly working) at the Robarts Library, or spending quality time with her cat, Goose.

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