By Carlton Lee Martin | ICLEO Coordinator/CCA Attorney, Indiana Office of Court Services
Imagine you lost your only source of income and had no ability to pay your bills. Your rent is due, your lights are on the verge of being shut off, your children need school clothes, and your child support obligations must be met. You need a lawyer to lower your support payments or find a way to represent yourself in court. What would you do? How would you access justice?
The new website for the Coalition for Court Access, indianalegalhelp.org, provides legal resources to Hoosiers of limited financial means.
According to Supreme Court statistics, self-represented litigants filed 229,740 of the 1,327,725 total court filings in 2017. If filing trends remain consistent, this number is expected to rise.
indianalegalhelp.org is an important tool the Coalition developed to address this trend. The website helps people looking for civil legal aid for non-criminal issues, including family, housing, consumer, healthcare, benefits, employment, and educational services.
The website provides a variety of self-help forms covering family law and general civil matters, and an interactive map allowing users to find contact information for legal service providers in all 92 Indiana counties.
There are many instances in which hiring an attorney is crucial, therefore legal experts suggest talking to an attorney prior to submitting online forms to a court. The website also includes questions to ask when hiring a lawyer.
The launch of indianalegalhelp.org is a significant step in achieving the Coalition’s access to justice goals. However, the Coalition plans to expand the forms available and will eventually include a section for legal professionals who want to help fellow Hoosiers navigate Indiana’s legal system.
If approached and asked where legal help is available, boldly direct individuals to indianalegalhelp.org.