Expansion of Family Law Summary Advice and Online Chats

Expansion of Family Law Summary Advice and Online Chats

In an effort to provide expanded legal information and resources to Nova Scotian families, Nova Scotia Legal Aid (NSLA) has expanded its online chat service. Effective the week of March 30th, online family law chats will be held every Tuesday and Thursday from 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm where individuals can chat free with a lawyer about their family issue.

NSLA is continuing to provide family summary advice services at all Courthouses through scheduled telephone appointments. This service is available to Nova Scotians who do not qualify financially for legal aid. NSLA has expanded its family summary advice services by making it available by telephone at all Legal Aid Offices that provide family law services.

NSLA is continuing to provide full-service representation to qualified applicants for urgent and emergency family matters in accordance with the directives of the Courts. Individuals should contact the NSLA Office nearest to where their Court matter is being held.

Individuals who are already being represented by a lawyer for their family matter(s) should contact their lawyer directly for assistance.

Please note NSLA Offices are closed to walk-in traffic but can be reached by telephone or email. Contact information for NSLA Offices can be found here: https://www.nslegalaid.ca/legal-aid-offices/.

Need Help With Application to Vary Release Order?

Applications to Vary Release Orders

In an effort to reduce the need for Nova Scotians to attend courthouses, Nova Scotia Legal Aid will assist any unrepresented people who need urgent changes to their Undertaking or Recognizance. Rather than attend a courthouse, please contact the Legal Aid Office nearest the Court from which you were released. You can find the nearest NSLA Office here: https://www.nslegalaid.ca/legal-aid-offices/ .

Please note our offices are closed to walk-in traffic, but we can be reached by telephone or email.

In HRM, complete this simple webform to get Duty Counsel assistance: https://www.nslegalaid.ca/online-adjournment-form/ or call the office.

*If you already have a lawyer representing you, please contact your lawyer directly and they will assist you.*

Important Information re NSLA Office Closures




March 23, 2020


Dear NSLA Clients, Applicants, Community Partners & Stakeholders:


As a result of enhanced directives from the Province of Nova Scotia and the state of emergency, Nova Scotia Legal Aid (NSLA) Offices are now closed to the public. We are providing the information below to assist you with contacting our offices, or in referring Nova Scotians to our service.

  • Although NSLA Offices are closed to the public, as an essential service, we will continue to help Nova Scotians who require our services.
  • Although our physical offices are closed, staff are working remotely, and office main lines are operational. NSLA Offices can be reached by telephone, or email. A list of offices can be found at https://www.nslegalaid.ca/legal-aid-offices/
  • Voicemail and email accounts will be regularly monitored.
  • If a Legal Aid client has an upcoming court matter, they should contact their lawyer regarding their court date if they have not already heard from them.
  • If an individual does not have a lawyer, NSLA Duty Counsel may be able to assist and the individual should call their local Legal Aid Office.
  • Information regarding court dates in the various courts can be found on the NS Courts website at https://www.courts.ns.ca/News_of_Courts/COVID19_Preventative_Measures
  • If an individual does not have a lawyer and has a Provincial Court date in Halifax or Dartmouth, they can obtain further information and assistance by filling out the form on our website at https://www.nslegalaid.ca/need-help-adjourning-a-halifax-or-dartmouth-provincial-court-date
  • If an individual has an appointment at a NSLA Office, they should call the office so other arrangements can be made. Appointments with NSLA may be held by telephone or video if possible.
  • Applicants for legal aid services can apply online at https://www.nslegalaid.ca/online-application/. Until April 6, 2020, NSLA Offices will only be processing applications for urgent matters. With an expected increase in the volume of online applications, we ask applicants to please be patient in waiting to hear from NSLA regarding their application.
  • All outreach into communities by Legal Aid staff will be suspended until further notice.
  • Online chats with a lawyer for family and social justice matters will continue. Family law chat are held every Tuesday from 3-5 pm and every Wednesday from 3-5 pm for income and housing issues. Click on the chat button on our website to start https://www.nslegalaid.ca/
  • Telephone Duty Counsel will continue to be available 24/7 for individuals arrested or detained by police. Individuals who are in custody and wish to access this service should advise the detaining officer.
  • NSLA Offices will not be staffed so please do not send anything via fax to our offices.
  • Please be patient when contacting NSLA and expect delays in receiving a response to telephone calls, emails or an application. As a result of changes in service due to COVID-19, there will be a large increase in the volume of calls, emails and online applications which staff must handle.

We appreciate your patience and cooperation during this time.

Yours sincerely,

Megan Longley

Megan Longley, QC
Executive Director

Need Help Adjourning a Halifax or Dartmouth Provincial Court Date?

Current circumstances have led to the closure of courts in HRM for all but the most pressing matters. Nova Scotia Legal Aid (NSLA) wishes to extend an invitation to individuals who do not otherwise have legal counsel to contact us so that legal counsel can appear on their behalf in the Provincial Courts in Halifax and Dartmouth to obtain a new court appearance date for them.

The best way to request our assistance is to complete the online form:  HRM Provincial Court Adjournment. The online form only gathers the information necessary to make a request to adjourn a court date on your behalf. Priority will be given to online requests for assistance.

We can also be reached at 902-420-7800.  Please leave a message with your full name, date of birth, and your upcoming court date and location. A representative will be in touch to confirm we can assist.

Please try to contact us with your request at least 2 days before your court date so we can ensure that counsel is available and advised of your request. While we will try to contact you with your new court date, it will still be your responsibility to find out your new date yourself by contacting us or the courthouse where your case is being heard.

Unfortunately, these services are not available for matters in night court (such as motor vehicle or Small Claims Court cases) at the present time. NSLA can, however, provide advice and assistance for individuals with night court matters if they wish to seek a postponement of their court date.

Remember, requests for assistance at least 2 days before the scheduled court date stand the best chance of a positive outcome.

Nova Scotia Legal Aid & Coronavirus (COVID-19)




The Nova Scotia Legal Aid Commission has put in place measures to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus and to protect the health of Nova Scotians working in and visiting Legal Aid Offices across the Province. Please review the information below regarding Legal Aid Offices. Also included below is general information as well as information received regarding courts and correctional facilities.

General Information

  • On March 15, 2020 the Premier directed that anyone who has travelled outside of Canada must self-isolate for a period of 14 days upon their return to Nova Scotia.
  • The Premier also suggested that any public servants that can work from home should have plans in place for their work.
  • For information on COVID-19 and tips for reducing the spread of this virus and other respiratory illnesses, please visit novascotia.ca/coronavirus/

Nova Scotia Legal Aid

  • These safety measures are being made with the guidance of public health officials and the Province and will be reassessed regularly to ensure plans are in place to limit the spread of the virus.
  • We ask that you be patient when contacting Legal Aid and to expect delays in having your call or email returned. As a result of the changes in service due to the virus, there will be a large increase in the volume of calls and emails which staff must handle.
  • Considering the communications from the Premier, where possible Nova Scotia Legal Aid employees will be working from home, but all offices will remain open and responsive, and court appearances will be covered.
  • Appointments with Legal Aid will be held by telephone or video if possible. For those clients without easy access to a phone, considerations will be made.
  • Anyone with virus symptoms, or who have travelled outside of Canada, should not visit a Legal Aid Office and should contact the office by telephone. Contact information for Legal Aid Offices across the Province can be found here: https://www.nslegalaid.ca/legal-aid-offices/
  • If you wish to apply for legal aid, you can complete an application online from our website at: https://www.nslegalaid.ca/online-application/. With an expected increase in the volume of online applications, please be patient in waiting to hear from Legal Aid regarding your application.
  • Some court matters will be done by telephone or video. In most cases clients will not be required to appear in Court, as lawyers can appear on your behalf. If you are a Legal Aid client and have an upcoming court matter, contact your lawyer regarding your court date if you have not already heard from them. Court directives are expected to continue to evolve so please watch Twitter or go to The Courts of Nova Scotia website at https://www.courts.ns.ca/ for current information, and contact your lawyer to determine next steps.
  • Telephone Duty Counsel will continue to be available for individuals arrested or detained by police. Individuals who are in custody and wish to access this service should advise the detaining officer.
  • All outreach into communities by Legal Aid staff will be suspended until further notice. Please contact the nearest office if you need assistance.
  • Please visit our website at https://www.nslegalaid.ca/ for information regarding our services.
  • Nova Scotia Legal Aid employees will not be attending committee and other meetings in person.
  • Lawyers who are representing clients on Certificate will be notified by their local Legal Aid Offices regarding practices being put in place regarding Certificates and payment of accounts.                      


  • Please visit The Courts of Nova Scotia website at https://www.courts.ns.ca/ for current information.
  • Counsel or members of the public who have travelled internationally within the last two weeks, or are experiencing symptoms of the coronavirus, should not visit a courthouse.
  • Individuals who are due in court who have travelled recently or are experiencing symptoms should contact their lawyer or the Court to seek instructions from the presiding judge in their case.
  • General and Special Time Chambers matters in the Supreme Court (including the Family Division) will be conducted by telephone, unless cross-examination of a witness is required. The Supreme Court is also considering what other matters may be dealt with via alternative arrangements, such as video- and tele-conferencing. Safe distancing will be practised in cases that go ahead in person.
  • All upcoming jury trials in the Supreme Court be postponed for a period of 60 days. This applies to all jury trials that have not yet commenced in court. The situation will be re-evaluated after the 60-day period.
  • Members of the public who have received a jury summons requiring them to come to court for jury duty within the next 60 days, and who are not presently sitting on a case, are officially released from that summons.
  • Jurors presently participating in a jury trial, are required to report to court as usual. Anyone exhibiting signs of fever, cough or flu-like symptoms should contact the Court immediately to seek further instructions from the judge presiding over their case.
  • All civil weddings at courthouses are cancelled. Individuals looking to get married outside a courthouse can find a list of Justices of the Peace who perform wedding ceremonies on the Department of Justice website at https://novascotia.ca/just/Court_Services/peace.asp
  • Communal water jugs and disposable cups will no longer be provided in the courtrooms. Instead, counsel and their clients will be allowed to bring their own individual water bottles, which they must take with them or dispose of at the end of the proceedings.

Correctional Facilities

  • Please visit Correctional Services on the Department of Justice’s website at https://novascotia.ca/just/Corrections/ for current information.
  • Nova Scotia’s correctional facilities will be closed to all visitors until further notice, effective immediately.
  • Lawyers who need to speak with their clients, who are in custody in correctional facilities, should contact the facility after noon on Monday, March 16, to arrange alternative methods of communication.
  • During this time, inmates will be able to make extra phone calls.
  • These public health safety measures apply to the Nova Scotia Youth Centre in Waterville, and the Province’s 4 adult correctional facilities: (1) Cape Breton Correctional Facility in Sydney; (2) Central Nova Correctional Facility in Dartmouth; (3) Northeast Nova Scotia Correctional Facility in Priestville, Pictou Co.; and, (4) Southwest Nova Scotia Correctional Facility in Yarmouth.












2020-21 Business Plan

We are pleased to share the Nova Scotia Legal Aid Commission’s 2020-21 Business Plan: NSLA Business Plan 2020-21. The Business Plan can also be found in Legal Aid Publications under the About Us tab.

NS Department of Justice Seeks Feedback on Family Property Law

The Department of Justice (DOJ) wants to hear from Nova Scotians on whether changes are needed to modernize the legislation that currently determines how property is divided at the end of a marriage or registered domestic partnership.  Some of the key areas of interest include:

  • Family property rights for people in established common-law relationships
  • Property owned before the relationship began
  • Business assets
  • Family debt
  • Rights to possess the family home
  • Pensions

The Department of Justice is seeking your feedback. Additional information and an online survey are available at: https://novascotia.ca/family-property-law-survey. Written submissions are also accepted. To submit written feedback, please email: info@narrativeresearch.ca.  Alternatively, you may send written feedback by regular mail to:

Family Property Law Reform
c/o Narrative Research
5001-7071 Bayers Road
Halifax, NS B3L 2C2

The deadline to provide feedback via the survey, email and mail is February 20, 2020. The Department will use the feedback received to help determine whether new legislation is needed. DOJ would be grateful if you could share information about the consultation and the above survey link with interested colleagues and clients.

An in-person feedback session for legal stakeholders will be held later in February.  Further information on this event and how to register will follow shortly.

If you have any questions, please contact Narrative Research at 1-888-414-1336 (toll free).

2018-2019 Annual Report

The Nova Scotia Legal Aid Commission’s 2018-19 Annual Report is now available and can be found on the About Us, Legal Aid Publications page, or at this link:  Nova Scotia Legal Aid Commission 2018-19 Annual Report

Brandon Rolle – CBC Article – “Atlantic Canada has an enviable problem: its youth jails are emptying out”

Below is a link to the above-noted article wherein Brandon Rolle, Managing Lawyer, HRM Youth Office, talks about successes in approach to youth justice.


Gordon Blackmore & Shanisha Grant – Halifax Today Article – “Meet the lawyer helping black communities reclaim their land”

Below is a link to the above-noted article wherein Gordon Blackmore, Halifax Land Title Office, talks about the land title representation that he and Shanisha Grant, Dartmouth Land Title Office, are providing in the communities of North Preston, East Preston, Cherry Brook, Lincolnville, and Summerville.