Resources & Insights

BARRISTON BRIEFS: The Family Law Portal

In the new series, Barriston Briefs, Tom Dart talks about a free new web service for Ontario couples going through a separation.

Many separated couples have a difficult time managing the emotional stress of a relationship breakdown. The financial strain of getting legal advice to learn about how the law impacts their separation significantly increases that stress. Many people have no choice but to try and do things on their own, without legal help. Even those who can afford legal assistance struggle with learning about the law and how it impacts them. Often the emotional trauma of the separation clouds their normal ability to manage their situation.

Fortunately, there is now a tool which can help. With the assistance of members of the bar of Ontario, Ryerson University has launched the “”. The goal of this tool is to provide information specific to the situation in which the separated person finds himself or herself. By asking a series of questions in each of the major areas where most people need information, the tool takes the input from the “client” and provides him or her with a written report which includes:

  1. Information about what “process” (collaborative law, mediation, arbitration or court) might be used for their situation;
  2. Direction on what information or documentation they need to gather to move toward resolution;
  3. Information about the law and how it applies to their situation including parenting, child support, property division and spousal support.
  4. Information about how they can help lower the cost of legal services which they might require.

Most importantly, the portal is intended to be geared solely to the individual and what he or she needs to know about their specific situation.

The portal takes some time to complete but that’s okay because it does not have to be done all at once. You can work on it for a period of time and then go back to it as many times as you need to get it all done.

Who and how does it help?

It helps clients understand the law and how it affects them. It gives them knowledge about the law and the best process to help resolve any difficulties. It gives them more control over how their case should be handled if they do decide to retain a lawyer or if they decide to try and represent themselves in their own chosen method of resolution. It helps them understand why they might need professional assistance from lawyers, financial advisers, mental health professionals, mediators, collaborative lawyers and family arbitrators as well as the court system.

It helps all professionals who provide assistance to separated individuals because the clients become aware of the types of assistance they need to get them through this difficult time in their lives. It also will help each professional because the individual will now know why they need their assistance and what to expect from their chosen professional.

It helps the court system because it educates the individuals who need that process to understand the law a bit better and what information is important to assist the court in finding a solution to their problems. Hopefully, as well, it will enable people to solve their own problems and alleviate some strain on this very overworked system by eventually reducing its load.

The best part is it’s absolutely free to use – its ongoing operation is funded by Ryerson University and its funders. Try it out now by going on its web site at: .

Remember that this portal does not provide legal advice and provides information only about Ontario law. For more information about the site and how and when it was created see