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Thanks for the question.
You can go to Legal Aid Ontario's website for information on what it takes to qualify financially. If you pass the "financial means" test, then they will look at the issues you're facing in court. For instance, if your children are removed from your care by the authorities, they'll give you a certificate for sure. If you and your ex want to fight over who gets the couch, or who gets the dog, or the issue is solely the access terms relating to a teenaged child, Legal Aid won't be giving you a taxpayer funded lawyer.
As well, these days they don't normally give family certificates to bring something back to court, or to start a case, unless there's some kind of emergency. Which means that you're a victim of domestic violence or the CAS is waiting in the wings for you to go to court or else they'll take the children away.
If you have a threshold income or lower, then you should qualify. Then you have to convince them that it's urgent and you need the certificate now rather than for them to wait until you've done a few court appearances and still can't settle it. That's what they usually say. But like any government agency with a budget they want to spend the entire budget or they'll lose out next year, so with CoVid they might be handing out certificates now to use up their budget. I wouldn't be surprised.
Because you own real estate you wouldn't get a free certificate anyway. Legal Aid does offer certificates to hire a lawyer who accepts Legal Aid cases, on a repayment plan if the applicant has real estate. This means that you'd pay back Legal Aid what it pays your lawyer, at legal aid rates and at fixed number of available hours to provide service, plus 10% for administration fees. That debt is secured by a lien on the property. They'll want a plan of some money monthly towards the bill, perhaps as low as $50. That's still much cheaper than hiring a lawyer privately, at market rates and needing a retainer of usually a few thousand dollars at least.
So go to the site and look at the qualifications, then call them and ask to apply. You'll need a copy of your deed / land title to show that you own the property. And also ask very specifically for a repayment plan certificate, they don't always go out of their way to offer it.
And check with your existing lawyer to see if they'll take your case with the certificate, of course.
I hope you qualify if you pursue it, I know that legal fees can be tough to work into a typical budget, especially with auto and support, and everyone's taxes going to rise due to to CoVid.
Is that good information to start with?
Glad to help. Thanks for the rating.