At Battered Women’s Support Services we acknowledge that increasingly women who are dealing with the Legal system are representing themselves within in various legal/justice arenas and therefore they are forced to thoroughly prepare for each appearance. In order to meet the needs of the women who access BWSS Legal Advocacy Program through funding from The Law Foundation of BC we have created a Legal Advocacy Resource Room.
Read BWSS’ Response to the White Paper on Family Relations Act: Reform Proposals for a new Family Law Act.
Battered Women – Justice Denied – Public Interest Law Student Project
In March 2008, Battered Women’s Support Services was awarded funding through Public Interest Law Student Employment Project a joint initiative of the law faculties of the University of BC and the University of Victoria to hire a Law Student to conduct research to:
- Investigate how family law case outcomes can differ when women have — or do not have — access to legal representation or support
- Uncover barriers in legal processes or programs that are postulated to help women from a legal perspective
- Establish the viability of existing legal aid options and demonstrate how legal avenues may be exploited by abusers to ensure ongoing oppression of women
- Examine the outcome of cuts and revisions in Family Law that have a particular impact on Immigrant or Aboriginal women in our community
Battered Women Justice Denied written by Karen Osachoff details the impact of the reduction of legal aid.
Why does our legal system force women to appear in court without legal representation? Women arrive at court every day to present their cases in front of a judge while their abusive partners or husbands stand a few feet away from them. Women often have limited or no English language skills, no legal training, and no lawyer while their partner or husband almost always has the benefit of legal representation or lawyers.
This resource is our response to what is a reality for many women. Battered Women’s Support Services seeks to arm women with information so that they can have a chance as they seek justice.
Family Law Resources
Click here to view our Online Publications and Resources for Family Law, Community Workers, and Immigrant Women
Download an overview of the Family Law Justice System Family Law Justice System
BWSS LEGAL ADVOCACY PROGRAM – Supporting Women Seeking Justice
The Legal Advocacy program at BWSS provides legal support to women who are or have experienced violence in intimate relationships and are currently involved in the justice system. The primary focus of this position is to help women navigate the family law system and the child protection system. The legal advocate also helps women deal with the criminal, immigration and other systems, as long as it is as a consequence of having experienced abuse in an intimate relationship.
BWSS Legal Advocate, Darla, has continued to exclusively concentrate on several areas of focus, including providing legal information and assistance to women dealing with the legal system, providing accompaniments court and other legal appointments, expanding networking relationships, creating awareness in the community, accumulating knowledge on family law and related issues and assisting BWSS staff when needed.
Through establishing and maintaining excellent working relationships with community agencies the program has expanded its networking within the legal communities. These relationships ensure a strong network of support for women. BWSS currently has strong relationships with numerous lawyers in private practice who support our work and women who need legal advice.
The Legal Advocacy Program continues to offer court accompaniment. The common requests for accompaniments are usually to both Provincial and Supreme Court hearings, to Family Court Conferences, to Judicial Case Conferences, to legal aid intakes, to lawyer’s appointments, to Family Justice Centre appointments, to Duty Counsel, and to file documents at Provincial and Supreme Court registries. Throughout those accompaniments, the Legal Advocate serves not only as a source for support, but also and specially to act as an ‘interpreter’ to the women, by ‘translating’ legalese to plain language and ultimately improving accessibility to the legal system.
Specifically, the Legal Advocate:
- Helps women identify prioritize their legal needs
- Helps women choose realistic and fair legal solutions that are their own
- Provides legal information on process, legislation, role of different system players, etc.
- Helps women strategize in building their case (by providing information and principles, views of violence against women as they relate to her individual case)
- Gives women tips for legal research/self-advocacy
- Helps women draft documents of a legal nature
- Provides accompaniment to family court (both Provincial and Supreme), specially to unrepresented women, but also to women who have legal representation, as requested
- Provides accompaniment to legal aid appointments, lawyer’s appointments
- Refers women to appropriate services to ensure legal representation and/or legal advice
Legal Advocacy Resource Room
This space is open for women who are working on legal research or legal documents. Such as:
- Provincial Court Forms (Family Law Proceedings)
- Supreme Court Forms (Family Law Proceedings)
- Writing affidavits
- Completing and submitting forms
- Completing and submitting orders and more.
The Legal Advocacy Resource Room will facilitate women’s access to office equipment, internet and computers, software, forms, and documents, relevant and critical information to better assist them to complete these tasks conveniently and in a timely manner as well as having the support from trained volunteers and staff members from the Legal Advocacy Program.
The Legal Advocacy Resource Room will enable women to conduct their own research, to more thoroughly navigate through family law system, criminal law system, immigration law system, divorce, child protection, housing and other related legal needs by accessing websites, documents which will be supplied. The BWSS Legal Advocate will be able to review these documents in follow-up appointments.