If you have a family law issue, you may qualify for help from family duty counsel (FDC) or a family advice lawyer, even if you do not qualify for a legal aid lawyer.
These services are intended to assist people with lower incomes who are representing themselves in court. There is a maximum amount of time that these lawyers can spend assisting you.
FDC are lawyers who can provide advice about:
- parenting time or contact / access,
- guardianship / custody,
- child support,
- property (limited advice),
- tentative settlement agreements, and
- court procedures.
In some communities, both Provincial and Supreme Court FDC are available. If you're in Provincial Court, you may want to check out the schedule of Supreme Court FDC in your community as they can also give advice to Provincial Court clients. (See FDC locations below.)
Provincial Court FDC attend the Provincial Courthouses on list days, sometimes called first appearance or remand days. Priority is given to financially eligible people who are in court that day, either on the court list or to make emergency court applications.
Once court ends, FDC may have time to provide advice to people who aren't appearing in court that day. FDC are available on a drop-in basis.
Provincial Court FDC can help you with family law matters, including child protection issues. FDC can:
- give you advice, or
- speak on your behalf in court on simple matters.
However, FDC will not:
- take on your whole case, or
- represent you at a trial.
FDC may be able to help you even if you're not financially eligible. See Do I qualify for legal advice?
Provincial Court FDC can also attend a case conference in Provincial Court. If a case conference is scheduled in your matter, you can ask either the Provincial Court FDC who helped you or your local intake office for a case conference referral to be made.
To find your nearest location, see FDC locations below.
In some locations, FDC are able to make appointments and give advice to clients who aren't on the court list. This type of service is available to people who are in Provincial Court or Supreme Court, or working out an agreement.
Expanded FDC is in the following locations:
- New Westminster,
- Port Coquitlam,
- Prince George,
- Vancouver, and
In all locations, appointments are strongly encouraged; although, drop-in service is available for urgent matters.
If you're a person with a low income going through a separation or divorce, you may be eligible for up to three hours of free legal advice from Supreme Court FDC.
Supreme Court FDC can assist you in Chambers if the matter is simple, unopposed, or by consent.
FDC may be able to help you even if you are not financially eligible. See Do I qualify for legal advice?
Supreme Court FDC can also attend a case conference. If a case conference is scheduled in your matter, you can ask either the Supreme Court FDC who helped you or your local intake office for a case conference referral to be made.
Supreme Court FDC is provided on a drop-in basis at all Supreme Court locations, except where Expanded FDC is located (see above).
To find your nearest Supreme Court FDC location, see below.
FDC services are available in the court locations listed below in alphabetical order. Click the community nearest you to find the address, phone number, and hours. Or call the legal aid location nearest you and ask when duty counsel will be at your local court.
If your community is not on the list, call your local court registry to see if they have started family duty counsel services. To find your local court registry, see the Provincial Court of BC website.