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Family Law Services expanded in tri-county area Von Cramon. “This is where we fill in the gaps when staff can not provide the service.” Von Cramon encourages individuals to seek out assistance in matters relating to Family Law and obtain advice. “More and more people are deciding, I think for financial reasons, that they cannot afford counsel, so they try to represent themselves in court,” said Von Cramon. “We are here the regular clinic hours and are a real resource to the community. If people have a question on going through separation, dealing with custody and access issues with respect to children it
Photo by DOREEN BARNES
Supervisory duty counsel Andreas Von Cramon who practices in both Criminal and Family Law, has seen a trend lately wherein low income residents of Lanark, Leeds and Grenville are representing themselves in the court system rather than seeking advice through the Family Law Information Centre. The reason may be that people are not aware of the services that are provided. His concern is that these services and resources can be of assistance to those going through trying times. yer. Obviously that is a more expensive option and we want to tailor the service to the client. If they have a very simple question, then two hours may be more than is required and we have to be careful with resources.” Another option for individuals is to call the toll-free telephone number 1-800-668-8258 to speak with a representative, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday to Friday. This option allows people to make a choice of 200 languages, in which to discuss their issue. “For more complicated cases, in particular, one that is identified as a priority is domestic violence,” stated Von Cramon, “a person that has a case requires that we make a Referral for Certificate right on the outset. They may be able to get a Legal Aid Certificate to hire a lawyer with it.” Within Lanark, Leeds and Grenville, there are two different jurisdictions relative to Family Law with Von Cramon managing duty counsel in both, which share resources. “More and more there are partnerships,” said Von Cramon. “There’s a more unified Children’s Services, the Court Administration is largely co-administered and the judges in Brockville treat it as a common jurisdiction, in terms of sharing resources.” Von Cramon has seen a trend wherein individuals are representing themselves in the court system which perhaps is due to financial constraints and the feeling of not having any other option. “Traditionally, Duty Counsel and Legal Aid Services have been one of the answers to that challenge (people representing themselves in court),” said Von Cramon. “It’s not the only one as courts
22 ST. LAWRENCE EMC - Thursday, May 1, 2014
are providing mediation, judges are putting more focus on self-represented parties and making sure that they are effectively treated in the court system.” Legal Aid or Duty Counsel (lawyers who represent people without representation in court) services are in place for low-income earners. Currently there are three lawyers including Von Cramon who provide services in Brockville, as well as Perth, practicing Criminal as well as Family Law. The hours available to clients in Brockville are 2 to 4 p.m. on Tuesdays and 9 to 11 a.m. on Thursdays, for Family Law. In addition to the services in Legal Aid or Duty Counsel, per diem lawyers are also used. “Per diem lawyers are those members of a private bar who we contract with, on an hourly basis,” said
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can be the most difficult and wrenching thing that a person will go through. We find that sometimes people do not know about our services or they know about it, but do not access it until much later than they perhaps should have. We can provide general advice and often refer them to other services that might help them. If their needs are greater, Legal Aid has services for low income Ontarians, like certificates or referrals.” Von Cramon also noted that referrals can be made to mediation services, which could be the answer in some cases.
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News – At the beginning of April, the provincial government added funding of $30 million over a four-year period to Legal Aid Ontario, which means that more low-income families will be able to access services offered. According to the Legal Aid Services Act, 1998, Legal Aid Ontario’s mandate is to “Promote access to justice throughout Ontario for low-income individuals, by means of providing consistently high quality legal aid services in a cost-effective and efficient manner.” “The broader strategy of Legal Aids is to consistently review the services we deliver to ensure they match with the needs of the community,” said supervisory duty counsel, Family/Criminal Law, Andreas Von Cramon. It was recognized that the Family Law Information Centre hours (clinic service) needed to be extended in Lanark communities. “We have found that over the years, this service has become increasingly busy,” said Von Cramon. He feels that Family Law Information has been a catchall with people coming in to seek legal advice which sometimes takes only 10 or 15 minutes. An example being a change to a Family Court Order and what the person needs to do. Other cases can be more complicated involving emergency motions wherein a child has been abducted by the other parent and there could be a risk or harm to one of the parties or child. As for the Emergency Motion, it is to provide a judge with the necessary information very quickly. “The difficulty is that it (the process) is a first come, first serve that is sometimes hard to meet all the needs,” said Von Cramon. “So one of the things we recognized up in Perth was to create a clinic with scheduled clinic hours. Then we have a place to refer the more complicated cases. The time is scheduled and we can speak with them beforehand to advise them about the documents and material they need to bring with them, so we can help them.” The Lanark, Leeds and Grenville Legal Clinic in Perth is held at 10 Sunset Boulevard in Perth every second Tuesday, 9 to 11 a.m., by appointment only, or again by appointment, arranged with the advice at the Family Law Information Centre (FLIC) in the Perth Court House on Thursdays, 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. For some individuals having a clinic offsite is better suited, a more private location than the Perth Court House. “We just recognized this need and a way to address more complicated cases more effectively than the first come, first serve walk-in type of environment,” said Von Cramon. “It’s a growing clientele. As well there was one other area that we identified, that is the domestic violence cases.” Von Cramon mentioned the close working relationship between FLIC and Lanark Interval House, with FLIC addressing some of their service concerns. One was an alternative for the client (s) meeting individuals face-to-face when going to Perth Court House. With the addition of the Sunset Boulevard clinic and appointments, clients are more comfortable seeking advice and services offered. “Regarding domestic violence, for some, attending the FLIC is most convenient for them and serves the purpose,” said Von Cramon. “We also have special duty counsel authorization for domestic violence, so Interval House and other service providers can give a referral for up to two hours of advice from a law-
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Bridging the Gap
By DOREEN BARNES
Published on May 1, 2014