Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What types of cases do you handle?
We handle civil (as opposed to criminal) cases that are non fee-generating. Fee generating cases are cases where an attorney receives payment from any settlement or judgment in his client’s favor.
What are the income guidelines and how do I qualify?
Our income guidelines are based upon the Federal Poverty guidelines. If you meet our income guidelines and have a civil legal problem of the type we can handle, you will qualify for our services.
What are the asset guidelines and how do I qualify?
It depends on how many people are in your household, how household income is shared and bills are paid.
What is the soonest I can get an appointment?
Appointments are based on availability. However, if you have been served with papers you will be treated as a priority and special arrangements will be made to get you an appointment.
I lost my order and need another copy. Do you have one?
If we represented you in the action, and obtained the order for you, we could send you a copy. Otherwise, you will need to go the Court and request a copy.
I need information for my friend; can you give it to me?
We would prefer that your friend call him/herself if he/she need help. However, if your friend is unable to call, depending upon the kind of information you are seeking, we may be able to help.
Can I speak to an attorney on the phone?
No. If you have a problem that we think we can help you with, you will be given an appointment to see an attorney. However, we do not give legal advice about specific fact situations over the phone.
Do I have to have an appointment?
Yes. The only exception would be if you have been served with court papers requiring immediate action such as Rules to Show Cause.
I’ve been served with papers, what do I do?
It is important to know the date on which you received the papers, what kind of papers they are and whether a hearing is scheduled.
Do you make house calls?
Maybe. We do go to homes of disabled people who cannot come to us. You have to request homebound services due to a disability.
Do you do all divorces?
We typically file divorces in situations where there is domestic abuse or where children are at risk.
I’ve been separated for ten years. Can you represent me in a divorce action?
): Probably not since it is unlikely that there would be current issues involving abuse or children at risk. However, we do have a guided interview which may help you fill out your divorce papers and file for divorce on your own here.
I need to get a legal separation. Can Legal Services represent me?
There is no such thing in South Carolina as a “legal separation.
I need child support. I’ve never been married to the father, and I don’t know where he is. Can you get child support for me?
No. The Child Support Enforcement Division of the Department of Social Services is the proper place to seek assistance in such matters. You can visit their website here.
I am in prison and I want to file for a divorce. Aren’t I entitled to a free attorney through Legal Services to represent me in a divorce because I am in prison?
No. Since we only initiate divorces where there is abuse or children at risk, we do not file divorce actions for incarcerated people.
Does my husband have to agree to let me get a divorce?
No. If you have grounds for a divorce, you do not have to obtain the consent of your spouse.
Can I write up a paper giving someone temporary custody of my children?
No. A Court order is necessary to legally transfer custody of a child.
If I give custody of my kids to someone, can I get them back without going to court?
No. If legal custody of your child has been given to someone, you must obtain a court order changing custody back to you. Even if the Court order was for Temporary Custody, another court order is required to change it.
If I’m an unwed mother, do I automatically have custody?
If a child is conceived and born in South Carolina out of wedlock, legal custody is presumed to be with the mother so long as the father hasn’t filed a paternity, custody or visitation action. As far as school, daycare or doctor’s, they will probably not require proof of custody if the child’s father not claimed any rights.
Can I get a power of attorney for someone who already has Alzheimer’s or doesn’t understand what’s going on?
No. A person must be able to understand the nature of what they are signing in order to give someone Power of Attorney.
Can my family “break” my will if I don’t leave them anything?
No. If you are competent to make a will and it is properly drafted and executed, no one can set it aside because you left him or her out. However, a spouse has certain legal rights to part of your estate and cannot be completely disinherited.
What papers do I need to bring with me if I’m making a will?
Usually you don’t need to bring anything. However, if you are planning to divide up parcels of property and will need to refer to surveys or deeds in doing so, you should bring copies of these documents.
If my landlord doesn’t fix things in my apartment, can I quit paying rent?
Can I get representation from Legal Services in a car wreck situation?
No. We are not permitted to “fee generating” cases. In car wreck cases, an attorney gets paid from any judgment or settlement his client receives. For that reason you should be able to find a private attorney to take your case without charging you anything up front.
Can I get representation from Legal Services for DUI or DUS or possession of drugs?
No. We do not represent people in criminal matters.
I was hurt at work. Can I file for Workmen’s Comp through Legal Services?
No. We do not handle Worker’s Compensation cases because they are considered fee generating and you should be able to find a private attorney who will take your case.
Can I represent myself?
You may represent yourself as a defendant, but we do not necessarily advise you to do so if you can obtain representation.
Do you accept referrals from other Legal Services Agencies?
I have a good job, but I cannot afford an attorney. I have rent and other bills to pay. Isn’t your service based on income, where I can just pay a little bit?
Eligibility for our services is based upon income and assets. Although we may be able to consider certain extenuating circumstances, routine monthly expenses such as rent, utilities and groceries are not considered. We are not permitted to charge a fee for our services.