New manual to help islanders represent themselves in family court

A Charlottetown nonprofit has created a legal guide to help residents of Prince Edward Island who choose to represent themselves in family court.

Community Legal Information has published its free 70-page book, How to go to family court without a lawyer: a manual, using funds from the Law Foundation of PEI, a non-profit organization.

Emma Chilton, director of publication at the nonprofit, said the number of people appearing in family court was increasing and they had received many inquiries about the process.

“We have been aware of the need for this resource for some time. “

The book can help when preparing for a court case, with or without a lawyer, Chilton said.

We are actually seeing an increase in the number of people who cannot afford a lawyer or who decide to represent themselves for some other reason.– Emma Chilton

“This manual could be useful for anyone who goes to court, even if you ultimately decide to hire a lawyer or if you are accepted for legal aid. This manual could be a great starting point for understanding the process of legal aid. go to court.”

Being expressive with legal terms is difficult

Chilton said most people find it difficult to represent themselves in court because of the legal jargon.

“For you and me, it’s a lot harder to really express ourselves, our children’s needs, and why what we ask for makes the most sense for a family,” she said.

“Lawyers spend a lot of time educating themselves and immersing themselves in the language used by the court.”

There is no problem with representing in court, but without help the process can be long and frustrating, Chilton said.

Chilton wants PEI people to continue to seek professional legal advice, even with the help of the manual. (Submitted by Emma Chilton)

The manual guides readers on how the legal process works and gives advice on legal drafting and research, she said.

“It really takes a step-by-step, step-by-step journey through what a trial looks like, what a hearing looks like, when resolutions can come up and what they look like.”

Chilton said the manual has been reviewed by seven legal professionals across PEI.

Need for legal knowledge

Reviews so far have been positive, as expected, she said.

“We expected this manual to be useful to a wide range of people, but we were interested to find that people looking for legal information about court processes other than family court have picked it up.”

Chilton urges the people of Prince Edward Island to educate themselves about their legal rights and to be empowered to face a judge.

“I hope people will take the necessary steps to educate themselves and make decisions based on what they have learned,” she said.

A digital manual can be downloaded online, or a physical copy can be picked up at the community legal information office.

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