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Government Calls for Public Input on Curing the Boon in Self-Representation


Government Calls for Public Input on Curing the Boon in Self-Representation

In the past, we have chronicled the perils of self-representation, particularly in the Family Law matters. These down-sides relate not merely to whether the litigant is familiar enough with the law and procedure to ensure that he or she gets a fair hearing, but also concern the added cost, time, and stress that is usually part-and-parcel of a litigant’s decision to avoid hiring a lawyer. Not to mention the resulting delays in the justice system itself, and the added burden on judges and court administration.

Yet despite all the challenges and clear disadvantages, the yearly rise in self-represented Family litigants in Ontario is undeniable.

Apparently, the Ontario government and the Law Society of Upper Canada haven taken notice: They have commissioned a study, headed up by former Ontario Justice Bonalko, that is aimed to decrease the numbers of self-represented Family litigants in the province, which according to their numbers is currently hovering at 57 per cent. The government is also seeking public input on how to help the public access qualified legal representation.

The study will focus on finding “more innovative, accessible and affordable ways to deliver quality justice services”. At the moment, only duly-qualified lawyers are allowed to represent Family litigants, but the study will explore the benefits of using other legal service providers such as paralegals, law clerks and law students for certain types of Family Law matters at least. The goal is to examine, through consultation and public input, how the Family law system could be improved and how alternative service providers could play a role in it, while still being held accountable.

Justice Bonalko will be submitting her report and recommendations to the Attorney General and the Law Society of Upper Canada in the Fall of 2016. The public is invited to read the Consultation document and provide their comments here.

Do you agree that the rise in self-represented litigants needs to be addressed at the government level? What are your thoughts?

At Russell Alexander, Family Lawyers our focus is exclusively family law, offering pre-separation legal advice and assisting clients with family related issues including: custody and access, separation agreements, child and spousal support, division of family property, paternity disputes, and enforcement of court orders. For more information, visit us at

One Comment
  1. D. Timbers #

    People have to self represent (mostly men) as the system is stacked against them. The court system is so broken and it takes so many times to deal with anything it is not feasible to be represented by a lawyer.(Sorry) My friend was over 9 years getting a settlement which was dictated by the Judge and he was told to sign it. He ended up paying child support on his 1,077.00 a month CPP disability income. (tell me how that is fair) When the spouse’s income is not even taken into account. They did not look at the CPP disability amount each child received because of his disability or the child tax or the supplement or her salary. They were making 100,000 a year and they also refused to have FRO return the 15,000 they took from him because of the bills submitted by her that should not have been covered. The process does not need to be like this. If they separate the KIDS come first. Equal shared parenting. In most cases men are left with not enough to live on while the income of the female spouse is not even taken into consideration. Never does she have to provide a financial statement(our experience ) . Equal shared parenting, split everything else 1/2 and move on. Simple. If that was the law there would be a lot less split families, less children caught in the turmoil. They could also lose down FRO as it would not be required. Court time would be minimal . Saving galore.

    February 23, 2016

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