Client Story

Legal Services for Veterans

Posted by on Nov 6, 2018 in Blog, Client Story, Funder, Veterans | Comments Off on Legal Services for Veterans

It’s Veterans Day and we honor veterans and service members in Illinois and across the nation who have served in the military to protect our country, our freedom and our American values. But when the holiday has come and gone, more than half a million veterans remain homeless, and many more face legal problems that they struggle alone to resolve—eviction and foreclosure, custody of their children, child support, and obtaining benefits, among others. While there is a constitutional guarantee for legal representation in criminal matters, no such right exists for civil legal matters. Therefore, veterans who risked their lives for the safety of our country are left to sort through their complicated legal issues alone if they cannot afford the assistance of a lawyer. Fortunately, Illinois has stepped up to address this issue. The Illinois Armed Forces Legal Aid Network (IL-AFLAN), a project of the Illinois Equal Justice Foundation which Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance Foundation is a part of, seeks to correct this problem. IL-AFLAN provides free legal help to veterans, active duty military and their spouses and dependents across Illinois. The network does so via a telephone hotline. Those who need help can contact 1-855-452-3526 or visit the website, www.ilaflan.org. One veteran, a current law enforcement officer, saw the IL-AFLAN hotline number in a magazine, and called it for help.  He had physical custody of his eight-year-old daughter, but his ex-wife refused to pay child support or officially change legal custody. He lacked the funds to initiate a lawsuit, but he called the IL-AFLAN hotline, which immediately connected him with a Land of Lincoln attorney. She represented him on a successful motion to modify custody, and he receives support and was able to enroll his daughter in his local elementary school. Without IL-AFLAN, this veteran may never have gotten connected to an attorney who could assist him with his legal problem. However, not everyone needs an attorney to represent them. The IL-AFLAN hotline is staffed by attorneys who have been able to resolve 65% of calls by providing callers with instructions and advice, as well as help completing forms and documents. When more than a phone call is needed, the caller is referred to an appropriate IL-AFLAN member, like Land of Lincoln. Since its launch last year, the IL-AFLAN statewide network has provided civil legal services, ranging from brief advice to extended courtroom representation, to over 2,000 veterans and service members. Many of the legal difficulties veterans face are directly tied to economic, family and housing stability. Without access to legal services, these veterans would have had to face life-changing problems alone, potentially with dire consequences. Veterans not only deserve our praise, they deserve legal help when their families, housing, and economic stability are on the line. Any veteran or active duty military member who is facing a civil legal problem at 1-855-452-3526. IL-AFLAN is there for you. ——————————— Clarissa Gaff is the Executive Director of Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance...

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Justice for Mary

Posted by on Sep 18, 2018 in Client Story | Comments Off on Justice for Mary

Justice for Mary

Mary is a 60-year old senior who despite her own significant health issues, works as a caregiver for elderly clients. As a caregiver, she drives from home to home helping seniors with daily living activities. Mary contacted Land of Lincoln because of significant debt, including her car payment, which ate up nearly half of her take-home pay.   In the past decade, Mary has dealt with scarring of her lungs from rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis in both her hands, undergone two back surgeries, and continues to have severe tremors in her right hand that remain unexplained. While trying to pay for her medical debts and car payment, she had to give up living on her own because she couldn’t pay her rent and utility bills. She was forced to move back in with her ex-husband to try and make ends meet. She was also locked into a predatory car loan for a 2001 Buick Century. She still owed over $12,000 for a 17-year old car that was sold to her without a working odometer. Her car payment was $470 a month. She had to continue to pay on the car, because without it, she would lose her job and be unable to keep her medical appointments. Land of Lincoln assisted Mary by filing a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy. Our attorney filed a Motion to Redeem the car, citing that it was only worth $150. She argued that it was an older car and should have never been sold to Mary without a working odometer. As a result, Mary redeemed her car for $150. This freed up $470 a month to pay for day-to-day needs including rent. The bankruptcy also offered her the opportunity to reapply for utilities. Our attorney helped her apply for food stamps, and also provided her with a list of low-income housing options in her community.  Mary is thrilled with the results, and for the first time in a very long time, she can begin to live independently without fear of losing her job or car. “Land of Lincoln has helped me get everything in order and has eliminated a lot of my stress.” –...

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