DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — People living in Montgomery County now have access to a new legal tool.
Filing for divorce, changing custody of a child, or taking action in a domestic violence case is not easy, especially for people who cannot afford a lawyer. Susan Choe is the Executive Director of Ohio Legal Help.
“That’s a complex thing for folks who’ve never gone through the legal system, don’t know how to complete court forms,” Choe explained.
Seventeen percent of people in Montgomery County live below the federal poverty line. Ohio Legal Help teamed up with the Montgomery County Domestic Relations Court to create a virtual tool to make sure sure low income residents get the legal help they need. Choe said the website takes people through each part of the legal process. It also helps people fill out forms right there on the site.
“What we do is we provide something called a guided interview with a TurboTax like interview, and we take them question by question, step by step through the entire divorce complaint filing, and then also tell them how to finish the court process,” Choe said.
Judge Denise Cross sees thousands of cases a year in Montgomery County Domestic Relations Court. She said this virtual tool will be game changer for the county.
“It helps them because it allows them to get some answers to questions that maybe they wouldn’t ask if they were sitting across the table. But they can access a number of frequently asked questions, things that they might not consider when preparing to come to court,” Judge Cross explained.
It is a first-of-its-kind virtual site designed by Ohio Legal Help and tailored to the way courts work in Montgomery County. Ohio Legal Help was able to build the site using a $250,000 grant from the Dayton Legal Heritage Foundation.
Choe said one of the most important aspects of the tool is its mobile capabilities. It was designed to be used on mobile devices to help break down even more barriers to access.
“Sometimes this is the worst year of their life, and we want to try to take the stress away. We want to empower folks to be able to take action for themselves,” Choe said.
Ohio Legal Help is in the process of building this site in more counties throughout the state.