POMPEY: Resources in a changing time

This past year, times have changed for everyone. Aside from not being able to see family and friends in person as much as we would like, many people miss the warm embrace that comes with a greeting or goodbye between loved ones. Even so, we have learned to be resourceful in handling life in this challenging time.

One of the things we have learned is that technology makes it easier to find available resources. If you are trying to resolve an issue on your child support case, there are several online resources that can be helpful.

The Cass County Friend of the Court has a new website casscourtsmi.org/foc and on our website, you can tap into useful resources such as:

• The ability to make child support payments by credit or debit card any time online;

• Information about common child custody and parenting time issues, options for modifying or enforcing your current custody and/or parenting time orders, requesting mediation, and how to access the parenting time resources;

• Information about Child Support Enforcement options such as Income Withholding Orders, Tax Intercept and Enforcement of Health Insurance Support; and,

• Commonly requested forms and other FOC documents.

Another helpful online resource if you are representing yourself is the  Michigan Legal Help Website: michiganlegalhelp.org where you can find toolkits to help walk you through different legal scenarios.  You can read articles, prepare forms or print a checklist that has step-by-step instructions for different scenarios. You can find links to legal aid offices and lawyer referral services as well.

Michigan Legal Help also has information about Self-Help Centers in your area on its website. You can find information about local community service organizations such as:

• Empower — a heat and energy assistance program that helps with past due utility bills;

• The Ark Services for Youth that provides support for homeless, runaway youth and youth in crisis;

• Immigration Assistance Program that provides the indigent immigrant population of the nine counties of the Diocese of Kalamazoo with low-cost, competent legal representation in their immigration matters; and,

• Domestic and Sexual Abuse Services, which works to end domestic and sexual violence in southwest Michigan by providing a variety of services to survivors of domestic violence and their families.

If you are looking for an attorney to help you, the State Bar of Michigan’s website, michbar.org, has information to locate an attorney and an attorney referral service.  The State Bar website also has a member directory that provides information about attorneys who are licensed to practice law in Michigan.

You can also check to see if you’re eligible for legal services through Legal Aid of Western Michigan online at lawestmi.org. Legal Aid is a nonprofit law firm providing free legal advice and representation in a broad range of areas including consumer cases, family matters, housing problems, government benefits, and more.

If you just want to view your child support case, apply for child support, pay child support, or calculate child support you can go to micase.state.mi.us/micaseapp/public/home.

This website also has Parent Resources that includes information about locating parents, paternity establishment, calculating child support.

If you’re looking for a specific type of service that was not covered in this article, you can go to the United Way’s 211 website found at 211.org  or call 211 to see if there is a service available to you.  The 211 website can help you find resources if you need help paying a bill, finding mental health services, or accessing other local services through 211. Thousands of caring local experts are available to help, 24/7 online or over the phone. Calls to 211 are confidential and can be anonymous.

Our mission at the FOC is serving & empowering families to make children’s lives better.  Part of that mission is providing access to information and resources such as the ones discussed in this article that may help meet a family’s needs. We cannot give legal advice, but these resources can help inform you of options available to you so that you can make the best possible choices for yourself and your family.

This article was submitted by Ashley Pompey, with Cass County Friend of the Court. If you have questions about the FOC that you think would be helpful to address in future columns, please send them to the FOC email address:  foc@cassco.org.

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