Self Help Legal Resource

Notice - Only accepting emergency marriage license by appointment. Call 269-983-7111 ext. 8233. Eval

The Niles Office is closed at this Time Due to COVID-19

The Self-Help Legal Resource Center was opened on April 20, 2009, and is designed to make information and forms more readily available to those who wish to represent themselves in court proceedings. Although legal advice cannot be given, staff and volunteers are pleased to assist patrons with the procedural steps involved in filing court documents.

The Self-Help Legal Resource Center of Berrien County was established in St. Joseph on April 20, 2009, through generous funding from the Michigan State Bar Foundation, Fredrick S. Upton Foundation, Berrien Community Foundation and Benton Harbor Connect Up Partnership Fund. It is currently funded exclusively by Berrien County Court System. The Center established a secondary location in the Niles Courthouse on October 17th, 2012.

St. Joseph Office

Niles Office

SERVICES PROVIDED

Child Custody Packet - Not available online fee applies iconExpungement Icon Opens in new window
Child or Spousal Support Modification (PDF) Icon Opens in new windowCivil Small Claims Icon Opens in new window
Divorce Packets - Not available online fee applies iconGarnishments Icon Opens in new window
Friend of the Court Opting Out (PDF) Icon Opens in new windowTraffic Forms Icon Opens in new window
Parenting Time (PDF) Icon Opens in new windowPersonal Protection Order - Domestic Relationship Packet (PDF) Icon Opens in new window
Paternity Motions or Serafin - Not available online fee applies iconPersonal Protection Order Against Stalking Non Domestic Pack (PDF) Icon Opens in new window
Objection to Referees Order (PDF) Icon Opens in new windowProbate Filing Icon Opens in new window
Juvenile Adjudication PDF Icon


Other Services Provided

  • Attorney Grievance
  • Brochures/Handbooks

COSTS

While the assistance given at the Self-Help Legal Resource Center is free of charge, there is a small fee associated with some of the forms and copies.

Form/CopyFee
Copies$0.25 per page
Divorce packet with children$10.00
Divorce packet without children$6.00
Custody packet for unmarried couples$6.00
Single sheet formsNo charge
Small Claims and landlord/tenant forms$0.50
Friend of the Court motionsNo charge
Personal Protection OrderNo charge


ABOUT THE SELF-HELP CENTER

We Can

  • Explain and answer questions about how the court works
  • Provide referrals to attorneys or other resources
  • Provide general information about court rules, procedures and practices
  • Provide information about court scheduling
  • Provide court forms and instructions on how to get forms
  • Answer questions about court filing
  • Check court forms and papers for completeness

WE CANNOT

  • Give legal advice
  • Determine if a case should be brought to court
  • Advise what wording to use on court forms or paper
  • Advise what to say in court
  • Give an opinion about what will happen in court
  • Speak to the judge about a case
  • Change an order signed by a judge

The S-H LRC provides information and assistance to community residents who choose to represent themselves in family court and civil matters providing vital access to justice for our patrons who may be unable or unwilling to retain legal counsel.  Services, other than selected forms and copies are provided at low or no costs.  Our dedicated staff and volunteers are specifically trained to work individually with each patron to determine their specific needs, assist with the completion of court forms, and provide general information about court process and procedures. ….No Legal Advice is given.

Judge Alfred M. Butzbaugh Picture

Retired Chief Judge Alfred Butzbaugh had a vision to recognize that our community needed a place for people to turn to for help with their legal questions.  His vision has become a reality and a success here in Berrien County.