Access to Legal Aid

SINGLE MOTHERS, POVERTY, AND ACCESS TO LEGAL AID IN BC

Through our work listening to single mothers through-out BC, we have heard loud and clear that lack of access to legal aid in family law proceedings is a crucial issue impacting the majority of our members and single mothers in BC.

Family law addresses critical issues arising upon the breakdown of a relationship, including child custody and guardianship, division of property, support issues, and protection against violence. More and more women cannot access legal representation because of the unaffordability of private lawyers and the deep inadequacy of legal aid coverage in BC at this time. While men are the principal users of criminal law legal aid, it is a fact that women are the principal users of family law legal aid and civil legal aid.

Access to justice in family law is a women’s equality issue.

DID YOU KNOW?

    • Since 2002, current government in BC has radically cut and dismantled access to family law legal aid in the province, disproportionately impacting women, single mothers and their children.
    • Between 2001 and 2015, the number of family law cases approved for legal aid in BC dropped from 15, 526 to 3, 442.
    • Only 32% off those who received a referral to a legal aid lawyer on any matter were women.
    • In 2002, current government cut the Legal Services Society budget by 40% over three years.
    • The family law budget was cut in 2002 by 60%.
    • Funding cuts have resulted in the Legal Services Society assisting fewer and fewer family law litigants, with a rising number of women representing themselves or shut out of the family law system due to their poverty and low income status.

The Single Mothers' Alliance BC asks that the Government of British Columbia:

  • provide new, sustained and adequate funding for legal aid for family law matters,
  • ensure that legal aid is available to those who need it by raising financial thresholds for qualification.

To share your story and participate in our Legal Aid Listening Campaign please contact info@singlemothersbc.org.

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