Legal Services

We provide free legal services in the areas outlined below, to women and gender diverse people who have experienced violence and abuse. Our lawyers believe your experiences of violence are important and that you deserve the protections of the law.

We help you:

  • address your safety needs,
  • identify your legal issues,
  • make informed decisions about legal action, and
  • find the right legal help.

We deal with:

  • spousal assault (domestic violence),
  • adult sexual assault,
  • childhood sexual abuse, and
  • violence against you as a woman in your home country.

We also:

  • give you information about your legal rights, legal protections available to you, and your legal options in and out of court,
  • advocate on your behalf in such areas as human rights and criminal injuries compensation, and
  • advocate for you within the legal mechanisms that deal with violence by doctors, therapists and other professionals.

Criminal Law

If you have a criminal matter, we advocate with police and Crown Attorneys about:

  • how to get a protection order,
  • enforcement of protection orders,
  • arrest and charging practices in domestic violence,
  • gathering information for criminal trial,
  • ensuring you have input into such things as diversion proposals (resolving the case without a trial),
  • plea bargains and sentencing in assault and sexual assault cases, and in domestic violence court,
  • understanding your role as a “victim-witness” in the criminal process,
  • understanding barriers to laying charges if there has been a delay in reporting the crime,
  • understanding your rights in applications for your personal records, such as health, counselling and others,
  • understanding victims’ rights in the criminal justice system,
  • provide you with legal information about the criminal justice system,
  • discuss your options,
  • contact justice system professionals who are involved in your case to help with your concerns,
  • help you identify information that may be relevant to your criminal matter,
  • refer you to lawyers who will represent you on applications for your confidential records,
  • if you have been charged with assault, refer you to lawyers who will represent you in court.

Family Law

Our dedicated and compassionate team of family lawyers focus on:

  • child custody and access,
  • financial support for you and your children, and
  • protection orders to ensure your safety.

Our family law lawyers can:

  • assist you to get custody of your children,
  • determine a system for visits with their father that is best for your children,
  • decide how to ensure your immediate and long-term safety, and
  • assess your family’s financial needs and identify any family property that should be shared by you and your partner.

Our family law lawyers will:

  • provide you with summary legal advice; weekly summary advice clinics are run at our office,
  • advocate on your behalf with Legal Aid Ontario for a family law certificate,
  • make referrals to lawyers with experience in domestic violence,
  • when possible, represent you in court,
  • provide you with summary legal advice; weekly summary advice clinics are run at our office,
  • advocate on your behalf with Legal Aid Ontario for a family law certificate,
  • make referrals to lawyers with experience in domestic violence, and
  • when possible, represent you in court.

In cases where we cannot represent you, we will:

  • help you draft your own family law applications and/or, and
  • refer you to our Family Court Support workers who will assist you through the family law system.

You can view CLEO’s online resources to better understand Steps in a Family Law Case.

For French-speaking women and gender diverse people, services are provided by Oasis Centre des Femmes. Oasis can be reached at 416-591-6565.

Family Court Support Program

The Family Court Support Program is available in 49 locations across the province. Its goals are to increase your access to the family justice system and to help those experiencing domestic violence understand and participate more fully in the family law process.

If you are located in Toronto, facing abuse and are headed to the family court system or are already there, the Clinic’s Family Court Support Program can help you. Our workers are trained in the family court process and have many years’ experience with court personnel.

Our staff can

  • give you clear information about the court process, the many services at the court, legal aid and how to find a lawyer,
  • help you stay safer while you deal with your legal matters,
  • help to document the abuse you experienced for the court,
  • go with you through the court process, including most court sessions and meetings, to help you understand court proceedings and plan your next steps,
  • arrange for qualified language interpreters to assist you, and
  • help you connect with community services and supports, such as housing, counselling, social assistance, access to food, support for your children and much more.

This program does not offer legal advice and is not intended to replace advice from a lawyer.

Meet with us

To set up an appointment, call us at 416-323-9149, ext. 233.

You may have to leave a message. Please say your name and number clearly and tell us a time when we can call.

Please tell us if it is safe to call you back and safe leave a message.

Family courts

Toronto’s family courts are located at

  • 47 Sheppard Avenue East
  • 311 Jarvis Street
  • 361 University Avenue

You can find family courts in other areas of Ontario on the Ministry of the Attorney General website.

Who we serve

The Family Court Support Program is for all women and gender diverse people who have experienced violence and are involved in family court processes. It recognizes the unique needs of

  • Francophone and Indigenous women
  • women with disabilities
  • immigrant women
  • women, people who identify as women and people with non-binary gender identity, lesbian and transgendered women
  • women who are not comfortable communicating in English or French

For French-speaking women, services are provided by Oasis Centre des Femmes. Oasis can be reached at 416-591-6565.

Men who have experienced domestic violence and are seeking family court support, including referrals to support services in the community, can contact our workers for summary assistance and referral.

Immigration & Refugee Law

Depending on your situation, we can help if:
  • you have fled your country to seek freedom from violence,
  • your spousal sponsorship has broken down, and
  • you entered Canada with an abusive partner and want to separate your claim from his.
Our immigration and refugee services focus on providing legal advice, information and/or representation relating to:
  • applications for permanent residence in Canada on humanitarian and compassionate grounds (H&C Applications),
  • refugee claims,
  • pre-removal risk assessment (PRRA applications), and
  • Federal Court applications for judicial review of immigration decisions.

Independent Legal Advice (ILA)

Independent Legal Advice (ILA) is a pilot program to provide free, confidential legal advice to survivors of sexual assault in Toronto, Ottawa, and Thunder Bay.  Through the Barbra Schlifer Clinic, women and gender diverse people who are survivors of sexual assault living in Toronto can speak with a compassionate lawyer who understands what you have experienced and can talk to you about the options available to you either in person in a safe, woman-centred environment, or, if you prefer, over the phone.
Additional Information

The ILA pilot program at the Barbra Schlifer Clinic offers survivors of sexual assault in Toronto, who are over the age of 16, free confidential legal advice from an independent legal advisor.

The legal advice will be provided over the phone or in person. It will not include legal representation.

Legal advice

The scope of legal advice will be based on each survivor’s individual needs, in order to help her make an informed decision about what her next steps will be. It does not include legal representation.

Eligibility restrictions

For the Barbra Schlifer Clinic, the survivor must meet the following restrictions:

  1. people who identify as women and gender diverse people
  2. the assault happened in Ontario, and
  3. be at least 16 years of age and live in one of the pilot communities.

For more information on the program, and how to access its services beyond the Barbra Schlifer Clinic, please visit the Ministry of the Attorney General’s website.

It's My Choice

The It’s My Choice Project builds on the Schlifer Clinic’s legal services by offering onsite, remote and drop-in clinics working with community-based partners, in the areas of family, immigration and legal responses to sexual assault.
To learn more, please visit It’s My Choice

Client Feedback 

If you would like to provide feedback on the services received as a client, please click here.

We're Here to Support You

Our intake counsellors are ready to listen, assess your situation, and provide the most appropriate resources for your needs.  Please reach out to us today.