1. Talk to a lawyer

A lawyer can give legal advice. Legal advice means that a lawyer can explain what the law says and how it applies to your specific legal problem.

If you have experienced and need immediate legal help, you might be able to get 2 hours of free advice from a lawyer. If you need advice from a family lawyer and an immigration lawyer, you can ask to get advice from both. You can call Legal Aid Ontario toll-free at 1-800-668-8258 to find out more.

If you have experienced sexual abuse and live in Toronto, Ottawa, or Thunder Bay, you might be able to get 4 hours of free advice from a lawyer. You have to complete a voucher request form. Or you can call the Independent Legal Advice for Sexual Assault Survivors Pilot Program at 1-855-226-3904 to find out more.

Immigration issues

You can talk to an immigration lawyer before you leave an abusive relationship. If you have already left the relationship, it is still important to talk to an immigration lawyer. You should talk to an immigration lawyer if you are:

  • at risk of losing your status
  • being forced to leave Canada because you don’t have status
  • not sure of your status

A lawyer can do things like:

  • help you apply to stay in Canada
  • help you gather documents you need as evidence to prove abuse or neglect
  • help you understand how your immigration status may affect any family law or criminal law issues
  • explain the differences between making an “humanitarian and compassionate” (often called H&C) application and a refugee claim
  • help you decide if you should separate your refugee claim from your partner’s refugee claim

Family law issues

You might also need to speak to a family lawyer. When you and your partner separate or , you have to decide things like how to divide propertywho takes care of the children, and who pays child support and spousal support.

If you can’t afford to hire a lawyer for everything, some lawyers provide “unbundled” or “limited scope” services. This means you pay them to help you with only certain things, such as helping to draft an agreement for you.

If you can’t afford to hire a lawyer, you might be able to find legal help in other places. You can also find emotional, safety planning, and housing help when leaving an abusive relationship.

Legal help

Legal Aid Ontario’s Refugee Law Offices offer free help with refugee claims, humanitarian and compassionate (H&C) applications, and some other immigration problems. You can call Legal Aid Ontario toll-free at 1-800-668-8258 to find out more.

Your local community legal clinic may also be able to help you with your legal problems. The Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic provides free legal representation in family and immigration law, as well as counselling and language interpreter services for women who experience physical, sexual, or psychological abuse.

If you have a low income, you may be able to get a Legal Aid Ontario certificate for some family and immigration law issues.

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