What to Expect at a Family Law Information Centre
The Family Law Information Centre is a branch of legal aid services.
FLIC provides assistance to families and individuals with obtaining crucial legal information.
FLIC is not an alternative to retaining a lawyer or mediator.
You can usually find a FLIC office at your local courthouse.
There are better alternatives to the Family Law Information Centre you need to be aware of.
FLIC services are good, there are better alternatives
Although deciding to get a divorce is hard, seeing one through is often much harder. For individuals that have made this decision, the next question will be how to get the appropriate advice and information about separation and divorce they need to complete the process. Your local Family law information centre can fill this gap.
Divorce often involves many complex legal issues, and if the necessary advice is not immediately sought, this may complicate the whole process. At the same time, it is not always easy to find the right lawyer immediately and in the interim, it will be necessary to receive some guidance.
Family law information centres work to fill this gap very well. They are a branch of legal aid services provided in Canada to assist families and individuals with obtaining crucial legal advice pending when they are able to retain a lawyer. With the assistance provided by these centres, it is possible to get the necessary advice on what you should expect in your divorce.
However, for several reasons, these centres do not provide the best solution. As I will share with you in this article, family law information centres may lead to more of a problem down the road. Although they are good, there are better alternatives. We will explore why below.
What does a family law information centre do?
Family law information centres (FLICs) are a part of the overall legal aid services provided by the judiciary in Canada. Legal aid is a government program that provides individuals and families with low-income access to legal representation and advice.
While Legal Aid is publicly funded, it often operates as an independent, non-profit entity with its primary focus on providing legal service, (aka answering family law questions). Most of the time, legal aid services focus on providing legal assistance for individuals faced with serious criminal matters. However, there is some limited service provided with respect to many other legal issues, including family law and family court processes.
FLICs are not the equivalent of Legal Aid. You can usually find the FLIC office in local courthouses, from where they assist members of the public with free legal information. They also provide help regarding issues related to divorce and separation, as well as other family law matters. Monday to Friday you can usually access the following services at FLICs:
- Information about the family court, the divorce process
- Court forms, guides to the procedure and how to get a lawyer
- Free legal advice about your Ontario divorce – about 20 minutes of general legal information
- Or case-specific advice for those who qualify financially – Legal Aid
- Family Mediation (alternative dispute resolution) referral service
- Access to the Mandatory Information Program (MIP)
- Information and referral to community resources and services
These services can be accessed by simply walking into any local courthouse and asking where you can find the Family Law Information Centre. However, using this service may not always be to your benefit.
The problem with Family Law Information Centres
The major problems with FLICs are not so much about the centres themselves but about the system in which they operate. There are mainly two problems here. First, the family law system in Canada and Ontario is fundamentally broken and FLICs serve as a gateway to the system.
The system only encourages a superficial treatment of the deep issues that spur and underlies divorce, without providing any real benefit to the parties. Divorce is intensely emotional and a lot of the time, it is these emotions that rule over legal issues like child custody, alimony and property division.
But since the court is one of law and not one of emotions, it cannot really do anything about these. At the end of the day, going through the family law system only means that couples give up the right and means to completely solve their own problems by themselves. And they give this up to a system that is just as incapable as they are.
Second, even the few positives that remain in FLICs have been steadily dwindling in recent years due to sustained cuts in legal aid funding. These centres are gradually losing the resources they need to provide value, which means they have fewer lawyers and personnel that can attend to clients.
In fact, due to the poor circumstances regarding legal aid, paid alternatives are already being introduced in courts. According to statistics, in more than half of family law cases in Canadian courts, at least one party shows up unrepresented.
As part of moves to tackle this problem, family lawyers in Toronto started the Advice and Settlement Counsel Toronto initiative. The project allows self-represented litigants to acquire the services of family lawyers in the court premises for up to 1 hour, at a price of $200.
But this doesn’t solve much because after your 1 hour is used up, you’re still in the same broken system and will likely have to shell out again on the next court date. Rather than continue in the system, you are better off looking at other alternatives that will provide more comprehensive solutions.
There are better alternatives that you can explore
There are several alternatives to litigation as a means of resolving divorce and family law disputes. The professionals I will share with you here are especially valuable because of the deep resolution they bring to family law disputes. They are:
A family coach is a neutral professional the helps families master their feelings and attitudes. They especially work with families to develop healthier and more effective patterns of behaviour. With their background in psychological counselling, they will support individuals in the emotional aspects of divorce and help them towards divorce recovery. A family coach may be able to help develop your co-parenting plan to ensure the emotional needs of your children are met. You may not even have to worry about paying them as their services may sometimes be covered by your employer’s extended health plan.
Mediator in Private Practice
A family mediator is also a neutral professional who assists separating couples in finding mutually acceptable solutions to their divorce issues. These professionals can help with all aspects of divorce or separation, including child custody and access, spousal support and the division of assets. A family mediator will often be identified by the designation “Acc. FM” (Accredited Family Mediator), indicating that they have undergone extensive and highly specific training. You can find a list of local family mediation services provided by accredited family mediators here, or you can contact me for a free information session.
Divorce Financial Specialist
Since most divorces will include sensitive financial matters, a divorce financial specialist can help. They are neutral professionals who assist separating couples in coming up with a neutral, joint financial statement from which they can begin to negotiate in a meaningful fashion. Their approach is especially valuable to help couples clear misconceptions about perceived worth vs. real worth and the value of specific assets. As highly and specifically trained individual, divorce financial specialists (such as myself) use the “CFDA” (Certified Divorce Financial Analyst) designation. You can find a local CDFA here or contact me at 1-877 932 8389 an absolutely free, no-obligation information session.
These professionals are available and accessible to protect your money, save you time and help you move forward quickly from your divorce. They will work alongside a lawyer to help you prepare a separation agreement with your spouse that is binding, and takes both your into consideration.
Legal Shield Providers
Apart from these professionals, you can also rely on the resource that Legal Shield provides. They can assist you with an Initial Consultation at the start of the divorce discussion. They can answer whatever questions you have regarding the process or how the law affects your circumstances. Legal Shield is a pre-paid subscription service that gives you virtually unlimited telephone and email access to a lawyer, for only $1 a day.
It has law firms that members can access in Alberta, Ontario, British Columbia and Manitoba (as well as the 49 US states in which it operates). How to subscribe tap here.
The role of a legal coach is to help you objectively assess your legal situation and develop the ability to put your best case forward. This includes looking at what you’ve already done, and what you can do better.
An effective legal coach will facilitate your understanding of your objectives, enhance the skills and tools you already have, and help you develop those you may need, so you can achieve those objectives.
Legal coaching is about helping you get the most effect from the facts and skills you have to work with. Tap Here for more about Legal Coaching
Early Neutral Consultation
Simply most high-conflict, high-cost and troublesome separations are rooted in the lack of clear information and communication early in the separation. Without early information, many families end up stuck in the court system, which results in delays, higher costs and injustices.
Don’t let your solo information gathering leave your spouse feeling vulnerable, as this will only further divide you. Bring them alongside with an Early Neutral Consultation. In this joint meeting, you each ask the questions you need to be answered. You both will hear a range of possible options tailored to your circumstances. From here you decide the best way to proceed.
Imagine the clarity created by hearing the information together. Think of the reduced stress you both will feel empowered with crucial information necessary to move forward to a soft landing, saving time and family resources.
If the only takeaway from an Early Neutral Consultation is a range of custom-tailored resolution options, it would be worth it. So would your reduced stress and improved clarity?.
Your separation has you at a fork in your life’s journey, choose the only path to a soft landing, start with an Early Neutral Consultation.
Divorce law in Ontario favours equalization above all else. While that gets everything off to a good start, your ability to secure a neat divorce depends on your ability to work things out in the various agreements you must sign before, during, and after your marriage ends.
Are you having trouble reaching an agreement on your finances? Do you want to avoid going before the judge and asking for help? Consider working with a family mediator who can help you end your marriage in a way that is peaceful, cost-effective, and child-focused.
Would you like to learn more? Get in touch for a Get Acquainted Call to learn more about finding a separation agreement with a soft landing.
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Where to find a Separation and Divorce Mediator & other Neutral Professionals
If you feel my Soft Landing Divorce Settlement Method is not a good fit for you or my location is not convenient (and Virtual or Remote Location Mediation is not an option.) It is still vital that you mediate your separation and divorce. You can find a Mediator listed at following organizations:
- Ontario Association for Family Mediation
- Family Mediation Canada
- ADR Institute of Ontario
- Family Dispute Resolution Institute of Ontario (FDRIO)
Other Professionals working as Neutrals
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Each application comes with
Each application comes with its own instructions, information, and documents required to:
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Why divorce lawyers don’t want you knowing about Naked Divorce Filer
A lawyer will typically charge you and your spouse $2,500 for an uncontested divorce. Naked Divorce Filer costs just $599 + HST.
Why the huge price difference?
It’s all down to the legal profession being stuck in the dark ages and failing to use modern technology to drive down costs.
Let’s use banking as an example. 30 years ago, people had to rush to banks on their lunch breaks, queue up with their paycheck and passbook and wait for a teller to take the cheque and deposit it into their account. Then they had to grab some cash to pay for gas and groceries to last the week. Nowadays, it’s amazing how banking technology has revolutionized our lives.
But where’s family law?
Still stuck in that queue 30 years ago.
Lawyers start every divorce application from scratch:
NO time and money-saving online systems.
NO leveraging technology.
SO they charge you $2,500 because they can’t be bothered to modernize.
Would you pay that sort of money for a tax return? NO WAY! Thankfully, you don’t need to because the tax industry has solved many of the complexities surrounding personal income taxes by using technology. Shame the legal profession hasn’t followed suit.
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Pay a lawyer $2500 or use Naked Divorce Filer for $599 + HST? You decide.
About Naked Divorce Filer
Here at Divorce the Smartway, we wanted a smart, simple and cost-effective way for people to get a divorce application without paying ridiculously high legal fees.
The technology exists to make the process hassle-free, and Naked Divorce Filer uses the best of it. Once you’ve completed our online questionnaire, one of our team will get to work preparing your divorce application documents to ensure your application is legally compliant and error-free.
Always a personal touch
Yes, Naked Divorce Filer is an online questionnaire. But our team will always be here to help if you need it at any stage during the process. You will be assigned a document specialist you are free to call or email anytime.
Hi, my name is Ken Maynard.
I am a family court survivor, Family Mediator and Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA). For 10 years now I have been helping separating couples find their Soft Landing. I look forward to working you.
Ken Maynard CDFA, Acc.FM
I help smart and successful couples, create separation agreements with clarity and soft landings for secure futures, in 4 meetings or less without all the lawyer created overwhelming conflicts, confusion and costs. You can work with me by video conference or with a DTSW associate at any of our 6 DTSW Greater Toronto mediation centers, including | Aurora | Barrie | North York | Vaughan | Mississauga | Scarborough.
Have a few questions - Tap here to Schedule a Get Acquainted Call
Ken Maynard CDFA, Acc.FMhttps://divorcethesmartway.ca/author/wardman/May 23, 2023
Ken Maynard CDFA, Acc.FMhttps://divorcethesmartway.ca/author/wardman/June 2, 2022
Ken Maynard CDFA, Acc.FMhttps://divorcethesmartway.ca/author/wardman/June 1, 2023
Ken Maynard CDFA, Acc.FMhttps://divorcethesmartway.ca/author/wardman/March 17, 2022