Using Public Resources to Assist SRLs to SettleNSRLP
NSRLP was excited to be part of the public launch of Legal Aid Ontario’s two new family initiatives announced last week ((http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2014/07/03/legal_aid_hopes_to_discourage_feuding_couples_from_acting_as_own_lawyers.html)
These two new programs will provide legal assistance to family litigants who are otherwise managing the system without counsel, to make a separation agreement at the outset of their case, or to consult before, during and after mediation.
While many SRLs in family court will not qualify for this new assistance, a somewhat wider group will be able to take advantage of the new certificate programs (where one spouse is Legal Aid eligible and the other makes up to $50,000).
The National SRL Study found that many SRLs are unaware of, or unfamiliar with, mediation and other settlement processes, and often concerned about participating where there is a lawyer on the other side. These new initiatives sensibly recognize that SRLs need practical help with approaching settlement, rather than blaming them for lacking “settlement smarts”. As part of our focus this month on Action Step #6, Enhancing Mediation and Dispute Resolution Services for SRLs, we shall be launching a new primer aimed at equipping SRLs with the practical advice they need in order to participate effectively in settlement discussions. Look for “Settlement Smart: a Primer for SRLs”, coming soon from NSRLP.