Even though there are many biases against fathers and shared parenting built into the legal aid system, we urge anyone without funds seeking shared parenting to try and get legal aid. Too many cases in family courts throughout British Columbia are mothers on legal aid trying to remove fathers from the lives of children. The government is thus an active and willing accomplice in damaging children.
Often a mother who calls the relationship off and ends up with the children can get legal aid with an income more than the father who can’t get legal aid. Legal Aid is not a good system but it is often all that is available to some fathers.
Of course the biggest abuse of the government funding a parent to push the other parent out of the lives of their children is that there is absolutely no incentive for the parent getting the free ride to want to seriously negotiate or settle a matter they know is costing the other parent a fortune. Lawyers historically are not supposed to mention in court that a person is on legal aid. It is therefore very frustrating, and the height of system/hypocrisy, to hear a well-meaning judge advise the two conflicting parents, “You look like intellegent people and you should both try and save yourselves a lot of money and settle this case.” When we hear that comment where the other parent is on legal aid, we now advise the judge of that fact.
The financial guidlines change from time to time, so always check. For family matters, a single parent with one child must have income ( from all sources) per month of no more than about $1,412; with two children $1,647; three children $1,821. But be sure to check first.
What can you do if the other parent is on Legal Aid, but you suspect shouldn’t be?
Some people lie about their income to make it low enough to qualify for legal aid. Sometimes this person’s legal aid lawyer knows the client should not be on legal aid but will say nothing. Whenever we have good grounds of suspicion a parent is on legal aid trying to remove our client from the lives of the children and their income is higher than the legal aid guidelines, we write a letter of complaint to the Legal Services Society. You can do the same thing. You will never get an answer, but only a promise they will investigate a confidential matter. Where we think a lawyer may know he/she is improperly getting paid by legal aid, we request an inquiry into that also. Because the Legal Services Society remains completly unaccountable to anyone for what they do with your letter, we doubt much actually gets done. But it is worth the try.
Phone your nearest Legal Services Society office and ask for a Record of Complaint Form. Fill it out and fax it to Complaints Coordinator, Audit & Investigations Department at fax number 604-682-0979. Mail a copy to your MLA.
Our office does not take Legal Aid clients.
For information on how to get legal aid, go to The Legal Services Society of B.C. website.