County to open help center for indigents in family law cases

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NOTE: This program was not funded for FY2016, and ceased operations on Oct. 1, 2015.

A new self-help legal program will open its doors in the Collin County Courthouse April 1, staffed with a lawyer to help qualified indigent residents representing themselves in family law cases.

The Collin County Self-Help Center for Pro Se Indigent Assistance is a collaborative effort between the Collin County District Courts and the Law Library to provide forms review for those who have qualified as unable to afford filing fees.  

Collin County Commissioners Court approved the pilot program last fall, which is funded from the Law Library Fund and created from statutory filing fees -- not tax dollars.

The center is located just inside Auxiliary Courtroom 3 on the first floor of the courthouse, and will be staffed by attorney M. Lee Bean, who will be available for walk-in customers on Tuesdays from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., and on other days by appointment only. The attorney will review qualified final orders before people go to court and walk them through the steps of presenting the final order to a judge, but cannot give legal advice or represent people.

Family law cases include divorce, suits affecting parent-child relationships, modifications of final divorce decrees and orders in suits affecting parent-child relationships.

Indigency for the program is based on specific financial criteria, including that the filer's income must be at or below 125 percent of the Federal Poverty Level. Applications must be reviewed by submitting an Affidavit to the Indigency Department on the 2nd Floor of the Collin County Courthouse before filing a pleading with the District Clerk.

The courthouse is located at the intersection of Bloomdale Road and U.S. Hwy. 75 in McKinney.  The center's phone number is 972-548-4558.