Legal aid

Legal aid is free legal help for people with low incomes. Legal aid services include:

  • legal information,
  • legal advice, and
  • legal representation (a lawyer to handle your case).

The information on this website is a form of legal information. Family duty counsel and family advice lawyers provide legal advice. Legal representation is when Legal Services Society (BC Legal Aid) pays a lawyer to represent a person with a low income who has serious family law problems.

To get a lawyer to represent you, you must qualify under financial eligibility guidelines. There is also a financial eligibility test for legal advice services.

You can get a lawyer to represent you if:

  • your legal problem is covered by legal aid rules (see below),
  • you meet the financial guidelines, and
  • you have no other way of getting legal help.

Tip: Watch "Legal Talk" — a short public service announcement about legal aid.

Legal aid rules for serious family problems

You can get a lawyer to represent you in your family law case in the following circumstances:

  • In emergency situations, for example:
    • when you need an immediate court order to ensure your or your children's safety and security, or
    • to resolve a serious denial of access to your children.
  • In other situations, depending on available funding and your circumstances:
    • to resolve serious legal issues in high conflict cases, or
    • when all other efforts to resolve the case have been exhausted and resolving the case will make a significant difference to you or your children.

If you've qualified for a legal aid lawyer but you're not sure what your lawyer is authorized to do for you, the information sheet What can I expect if my lawyer is given an Emergency Services Referral? helps explain the service.

Legal aid rules for child protection matters

You can get a lawyer to represent you if:

  • the Ministry of Children and Family has taken or has threatened to take your child(ren) away from you, or
  • there are custody and access issues related to a child in the care of the Ministry for Children and Family Development.

For more information, see Legal aid services on the Legal Services Society website.