In Quebec, low-income people and families can receive legal aid at little or no cost. They must follow certain steps and meet certain conditions to qualify.
How to apply for legal aid
To begin, call the legal aid office nearest you to make an appointment. Next, prepare all the documents you need to bring to the appointment.
You must bring proof of your income, property, debts and savings, and sometimes proof of your family’s as well. You must also bring all documents concerning your legal problem (court documents, letters, bills, etc.).
Eligibility for legal aid depends on many factors. At the first appointment, a lawyer or technician analyzes your documents to determine whether you qualify.
Conditions to qualify for legal aid
Only low-income people and families can receive legal aid. Also, legal aid doesn’t cover all legal services.
To receive legal aid
- you must be financially eligible, and
- the legal services you are asking for must be covered by legal aid.
Your financial situation
Your financial situation will be evaluated taking into account your:
- annual income
- property and assets
The income limits are based on your family situation. For example, a single parent with an annual income of up to $43,490 who has custody of two children is eligible. A couple with two or more children and a combined annual income of up to $54,608 is eligible.
Usually, your income from the previous year is taken into consideration. For example, if you apply for legal aid in 2019, your 2018 income will be considered.
However, if your income changes during the year you apply for legal aid, an estimate of your income for the current year will be used instead.
You can fill out a questionnaire to find out whether you qualify for legal aid.
Legal services covered
To be eligible for legal aid, you must apply for services covered by the Legal Aid Act. A lawyer will analyze your file to decide whether the legal services you need are covered.
These are some of the services covered:
Separation and divorce
applying for a divorce
applying for child custody
applying for support payments
contesting a refusal of social assistance
contesting a decision cancelling social assistance
contesting a court decision ordering medical treatment
representing children in youth protection cases
presenting a refugee claim
In some cases, legal aid may be granted for services aimed at settling a case without going to court, such as mediation.
Certain legal services are never covered by legal aid. For example, you can’t receive legal aid to sue someone for defamation.
The Homologation Assistance Service is available to anyone, no matter what their income.
In addition, anyone under arrest can talk to a legal aid lawyer for free by calling 1-800-842-2213, no matter what their income.
Who will be my lawyer?
The lawyer from the legal aid office who determined that you qualify for legal aid can take on your case and represent you.
Any lawyer in private practice can also represent you if they accept legal aid cases. When making an appointment in this situation, it’s important to mention that you qualify for legal aid.