In response to massive legal aid cuts in 2002, West Coast LEAF launched an affidavit campaign where we collected affidavits of women in BC whose lives had been devastated because of their lack of representation in court.


Why this project?

Access to the family law legal system is a key issue for women’s equality in Canada. These affidavits illustrate the devastating effects that a lack of legal representation brings to bear on women’s lives as they interact with the family law system.


What we did

We collected the 13 stories below, which stem from the sworn testimonies of women who cannot access the judicial system. They are losing custody of their children, abandoning valid claims to child and spousal support, and facing relentless litigation-harassment from well-represented ex-spouses.

All stories are collected with consent. Names have been changed to protect confidentiality.


Final Affidavits

#5: K’s Experience

“K retained a legal aid lawyer to assist her with the ex parte order.  That lawyer dropped her case the night before she was scheduled to appear in court.”

#6: T’s Experience

“T did not qualify for legal aid as a result of funding cuts and had to represent herself in court.”

#7: R’s Experience

“R went to legal aid and was told she would not be eligible if she left her husband because she was not suffering from extreme violence.  If R had access to legal aid she would proceed with a separation.”

#8: W’s Experience

“Now, since the 2002 legal aid cuts, W no longer qualifies for legal aid because she is not in a violent relationship and her children are not in danger.”

#9: D’s Experience

“D has not applied for legal aid because she believes her income level is too high and thus would not qualify.”

#10: E’s Experience

“E applied for further legal aid representation stating that she feared for her children’s safety.  This time E was denied and represented herself in court.”

#12: P’s Experience

“In May of 2003, P went to legal aid and was told she was ineligible for their services.  She applied anyways, asking for emergency services, and was denied coverage.  However, she is also unable to afford her own legal representation because she is a single parent with two young children.”

#13: M’s Experience

“M has no knowledge of the legal system, has no legal support and speaks little English.  As a result, she has not been able to proceed with any legal action.”