First-of-its-kind free women's family law centre opens in Vancouver

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Woman and daughter (Dmitri Mihhailov/Shutterstock)

A new legal centre, the first of its kind in B.C., has opened in Vancouver to give women completely free legal advice in family law and related areas.

The Rise Women’s Legal Centre, at 201 – 456 West Broadway, near Cambie Street, is offering a full service storefront legal clinic for low income women in the Lower Mainland.

At the centre, a mix of students and lawyers will provide legal advice, file documents in court, represent women in their hearings and generally help them access their legal rights.

The drive to open the centre came from the West Coast Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF), which has partnered with the Peter A. Allard School of Law at UBC.

“We are incredibly proud to announce that, today, the doors open to an historic new service in B.C.,” said a release on LEAF’s website.

In the release, LEAF says aid for family law matters has been drastically cut back since 2002, leaving many low income women suffering without any recourse in law.

This crisis in public legal services has a significant impact on women, says the release, since women are less likely to be able to afford a lawyer and are most often in danger.

“A woman’s capacity to be independent often depends on her ability to resolve disputes over spousal support, child custody and property division – all issues that have a tremendous impact on women’s equality, and the safety of women and their families,” said the release.

By helping individuals, identifying cases with a wider potential and educating students on offering community services, LEAF hopes the centre can challenge systemic barriers to equality – in B.C. and across the country.

The centre is now open and accepting intake appointments on Tuesdays and Thursday. To contact the centre, email info@womenslegalcentre.ca, call 604-451-7447 or drop in.

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