Frequently Asked Questions
Can the VLP give me a free lawyer?
No, the VLP will not provide you a free attorney to go to court for you. VLP staff and volunteers help you help yourself by providing opportunities to speak with a volunteer attorney about your case. The volunteer will give you advice about what you can do with your case and review your forms, but they will not act as your attorney. You are responsible for all required actions in your case.
How do you qualify for VLP Services?
To qualify for VLP services, clients must be low-income. More specifically, clients must be at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL). Clients must have a civil (non-criminal) legal matter in one of the following counties: Spokane, Pend Oreille, Ferry, Stevens, and Lincoln. The VLP primarily assists in the area of Family Law but can also assist with certain Housing, Wills & Estates, and Consumer Law matters.
Can I ask VLP staff legal questions?
VLP staff are not attorneys and cannot answer legal questions or give legal advice.
What areas of law can the VLP assist with?
The VLP generally assists with the following legal issues: Divorce, Legal Separation, Parenting Plans/Custody, Minor Guardianship, De Facto Parentage, Modification of Child Support, Modification of Parenting Plans, Contempt, Wills, Bankruptcy, and Small Claims Defense.
If the area of law you are seeking help with does not fall into one of the categories listed above, then the VLP probably cannot assist you. The VLP cannot help in criminal law matters.
How will the VLP help me?
The VLP is designed to provide legal education and guidance so you are better prepared to face your legal matter. The VLP offers clinic appointments where you can meet over the phone with a volunteer attorney, videos to teach you about court procedures and help you fill out your forms, and volunteers in certain courtrooms.
The VLP has volunteer lawyers in the courtrooms for the Family Law Status Conference docket and the Civil Motion docket. What are these about?
Status Conference – In court volunteer attorneys are there to review final documents related to Family Law matters.
Civil Motion Docket – In court attorneys are present to help you negotiate settlements of garnishment/collection actions. The volunteers may be available to assist further privately on a case-by-case basis.
I called CLEAR, but I haven't heard anything from the VLP. What should I do?
After you have called CLEAR, CLEAR refers you to the legal aid program that is capable of assisting with your legal issue. If you are referred to the VLP, VLP staff office will call you within two weeks of your CLEAR referral. Please be patient. We are a nonprofit staffed primarily by volunteers. During holidays or busy times it can take longer for the VLP to get in touch with you.
I want to get help from the VLP, but I am unable to drive to Spokane. Is there another way to get help?
VLP clinics and classes are currently held via telephone or WebEx. Infrequent community events with the VLP and partner organizations occur regularly. For information on local free legal events coming soon, check the VLP Facebook page, or look under COMMUNITY EVENTS in our RESOURCE section.
My first language is not English. Can the VLP still help me?
Yes. The VLP and its volunteers can use a translation service via telephone to communicate with clients who do not speak English.
How should I prepare for my clinic appointment?
Before your clinic appointment,
Fill out your forms as much as possible – mark any questions you are unsure of how to answer.
Gather all your case information to bring with you (this includes all documents you have filed or been served).
Write a list of specific questions you have for the volunteer.
Can I have more than one clinic appointment?
Yes, you can have more than one clinic appointment. After your appointment you may call the office to schedule a follow-up appointment if necessary.
How long will the VLP help me?
Each program participant is allowed a maximum of 5 hours of volunteer time. The VLP will assist you until this time has run out. Clinic appointments, phone calls, and emails all count toward this time. When your matter is completed, the VLP will close your case. For help after this time, you must call the CLEAR line to seek assistance.
Will I see the same lawyer every time?
No, you probably won’t see the same volunteer every time. The attorneys who help at the clinics volunteer their time based on their private practice schedule.
What if I don't agree with what the lawyer tells me?
The attorney speaking to you at the clinic appointment is not your lawyer, so you can choose not to follow their advice. This is your case, and you are free to take whatever actions you would like with it.