How to prepare for a meeting with a family duty counsel lawyer

To make sure that you and the family duty counsel work together in the best possible way, consider these tips.

Gather and take basic information and documents

To give you legal advice and discuss options with you, family duty counsel will need information about you. If you're going to meet with family duty counsel, take the following with you:

  • your phone number(s) and other contact information, so the family duty counsel can reach you if he or she needs to give you any follow-up information;
  • all documents you have that relate to your case, such as any agreements you have made with your spouse before or after the separation, any court orders, or any new applications;
  • a list of questions, extra paper, and a pen so that you can write down the answers to any questions that you have (you may receive an "Advice Given" form that describes the advice the family duty counsel gives you, but you might also want to take your own notes);
  • a summary (typed if possible) of your story, including important dates; and
  • some idea of what you want to have happen.

Gather and take additional documents and information

Take all documents you think might help. In addition to the above items, take along other documents or information such as:

  • picture identification with your full name and address (tell family duty counsel if you don't want this information given to anyone else);
  • full names and birth dates of all your children;
  • information about medical problems you or your children have and about any medication you or your children have been prescribed;
  • full name and current address, if you know it, of the other party (this could be your spouse, ex-spouse, ex-partner, or child's other parent);
  • the date you started living together and/or got married, and when you separated;
  • information about where you and the other party work;
  • your marriage certificate;
  • if you want to talk about property or support:
    • information about your income and everything you know about the other party's income
    • your tax returns or summaries for the past three years
    • copies of the other party's tax returns for the past three years
    • a list of everything that you and the other party own together or separately, including property, pension plans, RRSPs, or bank accounts (it doesn’t matter if things are in the other party's name only)
    • property tax assessments
    • your three most recent pay stubs
    • copies of the other party's pay stubs, if available
    • a list of debts that either or both of you have
  • your citizenship or immigration documents (if you were sponsored by the other party);
  • if the police have been involved with your family, the business cards of the police officers you dealt with; and
  • a list of incidents in your relationship that explain any need for a protection order (for example, incidents of physical or mental abuse).

Write down your questions

  • Before meeting with family duty counsel, write down the questions you want to discuss so that you won't forget anything.

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