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Michigan Legal Help Self-Help Center of Muskegon County Opens July 1, 2013

Michigan Legal Help Self-Help Center of Muskegon County Opens July 1, 2013

Monday, July 1, 2013

(Muskegon, MI.) Residents of Muskegon County who are unable to afford an attorney now have a new place to go for assistance – the Michigan Legal Help Self-Help Center of Muskegon County.  Located on the 6th floor of the Michael E. Kobza Hall of Justice (990Terrace Street), the Self-Help Center helps visitors use the Michigan Legal Help website at www.MichiganLegalHelp.org to gain information about how to represent themselves in simple civil legal matters.  The Self-Help Center is open on Monday through Friday from 8:30am until 4:30pm.

The Michigan Legal Help Self-Help Center of Muskegon County is part of the Michigan Legal Help Program, which consists of a statewide legal self-help website (MichiganLegalHelp.org), affiliated local self-help centers and partnerships with courts, bar associations, libraries, legal aid and others to educate those who assist self-represented persons. 

The Michigan Legal Help Self-Help Center of Muskegon County is an internet-based self-help center that makes use of the free legal information website www.MichiganLegalHelp.org.  In addition to the website, during certain times self-help center ‘navigators’ will be available to help visitors find information they need on the website, answer questions about court practices and processes, and answer simple questions about forms that are available on the website.  Navigators cannot give legal advice.

The Michigan Legal Help website was created to make legal information easier to understand and to show people how to navigate the court system properly and efficiently. The website contains articles explaining specific areas of law, toolkits, forms and instructional checklists to help prepare people who represent themselves in court.  Many court forms can be filled out online using a simple question and answer interview format. 

The website can also help users look for a lawyer in their area if they need more assistance.  The website also includes information about local community services and details about the court(s) where a website visitor’s legal issue may be handled.

Current website sections include family law matters, protection from abuse, housing issues, consumer law problems, public benefits, income tax, and expungement. Family law matters include divorce, custody, and child support.  Consumer legal issues covered are suits regarding debts, small claims, installment payment plans and garnishment.  The housing section deals with leases, security deposits, landlord/tenant issues, mobile homes, eviction and subsidized housing.  Public benefits materials include articles and common questions about state and federal public benefits such as food stamps, cash assistance, and Social Security benefits. The Income Tax materials focus on the Earned Income Tax Credit and other credits, and opportunities for free tax preparation for low-income individuals. Expungement provides information about setting aside an adult criminal conviction or a juvenile adjudication.  Although it does not cover all areas of law, new content will be added frequently.

“We are excited to be working with the community partners in Muskegon County,” said Project Director Angela Tripp. Tripp is the project director for the Michigan Poverty Law Program, which manages the Michigan Legal Help Program.  Tripp said, “The support for this self-help center includes judges and staff from the Muskegon County Circuit, District and Probate Courts, as well as the County Clerk. This community-based approach to operating a self-help center is based on the model which Illinois Legal Aid Online has used successfully for more than a decade.”