Who Qualifies to Get Help from Utah Legal Services?

Utah Legal Services (ULS) uses three different criteria to determine if they can help you.  They are:

Citizenship/Legal residency  

In general, you must be a citizen or permanent legal residence, unless your case is a result of domestic violence, such as in protective order cases.

Financial  

You must be a low-income Utahn to qualify for our help. The financial criteria is based upon your household size, the household's gross income, and the household's assets.  In most cases, income must be at or below 125% of the current federal poverty level for the household’s size.

Note:  Under some circumstances, such as in protective order cases or seniors, a person may qualify without regard to the household’s financial circumstances.  

Type of Case 

Overall, there are over 360,000 Utahns who are financially eligible for legal help from ULS.  As a result, we must limit the types of cases we can take.  Therefore, you must have a type of problem that is within our current list of priority cases.  You may click here for a list of the type of cases we currently handle.

How to Apply

We encourage you to Apply Online or call us at 801-328-8891 between the hours of 9:00 am and 2:00 pm, Monday through Friday to see if we can help you.

Table of Contents

  1. What Types of Legal Problems Does ULS Help With?
  2. What is the Application Process Like? What Do I Need to Do?
  3. Where Else Can I Go if ULS Can't Help Me?

What Types of Legal Problems Does ULS Help With?

Utah Legal Services (ULS) can only provide legal help to those who qualify in non-criminal cases. We can answer questions, give advice, prepare legal documents, and represent clients in court and before administrative agencies. We cannot assist you in any criminal matter (including traffic violations).  We currently handle the following types of cases:

Family Problems

ULS may be able to help with:

  • Assistance in acquiring a protective order when there is violence or abuse by a spouse, cohabitant or in a dating relationship;
  • Assistance in obtaining a stalking injunction when there is violence, abuse or stalking by someone who is not a cohabitant;
  • Representation in a divorce proceeding or getting a child custody order where violence or abuse are a factor.

Public Benefits Assistance

ULS may be able to help apply for any of the following public benefits and/or appeal a decision if you have been denied or received an overpayment:

  • Financial Assistance (FEP, GA)
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
  • Social Security Disability benefits (SSDI)
  • Unemployment compensation
  • Food Stamps
  • Medicaid
  • Child Health Insurance Program (CHIP)
  • PCN 

Housing

ULS may be able to help with if: 

  • You have received a notice of Eviction and/or received court papers for eviction;
  • Your landlord has locked you out of your apartment without first obtaining a court order allowing him/her to do so;
  • Your home is in the process of foreclosure;
  • Your rental unit is in need of repairs that affect your safety and your landlord is not responsive despite being notified; 
  • Your landlord claims you have abandoned the property, but you did not voluntarily leave;
  • You have received notice of potential loss of a federal subsidy.

Consumer

ULS may be able to help with the following:

  • Contract disputes such as enforceability, breach and right to cancel;
  • Your rights under a lease such as claims of landlord for damages or retention of deposit;
  • You rights under sales agreements such as purchasing an automobile;
  • Credit issues, such as identity theft;
  • Debt collection; or
  • Issues arising out of predatory lending practices (i.e., bait and switch).

Seniors

ULS may be able to help seniors (those 60+) or in some cases, other low-income Utahns with the following:

  • Social Security retirement and other public benefits, denials, and overpayments;
  • Medicare claim or benefit problems;
  • Housing issues, including nursing homes;
  • Limited assistance with estate planning and advanced directives, such as living wills; and
  • Defense of the proposed ward in a guardianship proceeding (we do not initiate guardianship petitions).

Agricultural Workers

In addition to those listed above, ULS may be able to help with the following:

  • Agricultural-related employment issues such as:
    • wages;
    • violations of work contract and working arrangements;
    • work conditions;
    • pesticides;
    • field sanitiation;
    • worker housing;
    • human trafficking.
  • Immigration petitions for citizenship

Native American Indian

In addition to the areas listed above, ULS may be able to help Native American's with the following:

  • Tribal housing on the Ute and Ibapah Reservation;
  • Issues involving the Indian Child Welfare Act;
  • Juvenile delinquency cases in tribal court;
  • Other matters pertaining to Indian Law.

Pro Bono (includes bankruptcy, family issues, QDROs, and guardianships)

Even if ULS cannot assist you directly, we can often find volunteer or pro bono attorneys who are willing to help low-income clients free of charge.  The types of cases we can place with volunteer attorneys depending on many factors, including the expertise of the attorneys themselves and we cannot guarantee placement of any case.  

How to Apply

We encourage you to Apply Online or call us at 801-328-8891 between the hours of 9:00 am and 2:00 pm, Monday through Friday to see if we can help you.  

What is the Application Process Like? What Do I Need to Do?

The most important thing is to call us as soon as you recognize you have a legal problem. Our funding requires us to do an extensive screening to see if you qualify. You will need information and have to go through the process before we can provide any service. Let's start with some definitions of terms that we use.

Definitions

Who is Part of My Household?

ULS defines household as the number of adults and children living with you and who are related by blood or by law as relatives for whom you have a legal duty to support. You are included as a member of your own household, as is your partner if you are legally or common law married. ULS also includes an unmarried partner if you have a minor child in common you are legally obligated to support. However, you should NOT include any roommates or adult children living with you unless you have a legal duty to support them (court ordered guardianship).

What is Gross Monthly Income?

Gross monthly income  is your income prior to taxes being taken out and can include disability benefits, income from unemployment, employment or self employment, general assistance, alimony or child support, veterans benefits, worker's compensation,SSI/SSDI,social security, pension, and investments.

What are Assets?

Assets include the value of ALL you personal items such as TV's, computers, sofas, clothing, beds, etc. It also includes cash and money in bank, credit union or other accounts, a second home or other real estate, vehicles, cars, trucks or motorcycles, money in stocks, bonds and certificates of deposit, work-related tools, and any interest in a business.

What Do I Need?

You will need to know information about the gross monthly income and the assets of every member of your household to complete the interview. Please make sure you have this information before you start the process.  Once you have this information, there are two ways to apply:

Apply Online

Using the online application is the fastest way to determine if we can help.  The Online Eligibility Screening allows you to determine whether you financially qualify for Utah Legal Services (ULS) and if used, gives you priority status when calling us so your wait time will be reduced. It is a secure site so any information transmitted over the online application is secure and confidential. You must have an email address to use this service. The screening process consists of up to 3 steps and may take up to an hour to complete though the online application itself should only take 10-20 minutes to finish.  The entire process is as follows:

  1. You must fill out the online interview that will ask you questions mainly about the problem you have, your gross monthly household income and assets. This interview is available 24/7. This interview will probably take anywhere from 10 - 20 minutes to finish. The interview will let you know if it appears you have the type of problem we can help with and it appears that you financially qualify for our services.  If you don't, the process is complete. If you do, you will have to then complete the next two (2) steps.
  2. At the end of the interview, if it appears that you have the type of problem we can help with and it seems that you financially qualify for our services, you will then need to talk to one of our intake workers, who will verify that we may indeed help you. You will have the choice of talking to us by phone or by online chat. However, the choice of online chat is only available in English and should only be used if you cannot call us. We can handle other languages on the phone via our translator service. This step is available Monday thru Friday, from 9:00 am until 2:00 pm and will probably take somewhere between 10 - 20 minutes to finish. However, if you complete the interview outside of those times, you may fill out the interview and then either call us or return to chat with an intake worker during those times (once you complete the application, these instructions will be emailed to you).
  3. Finally, if the intake worker verifies that you may qualify for our services, you will be able to talk to an advocate. Generally, this will occur at the same time you are talking to the intake worker, in that you will be directly transferred to an attorney or experienced paralegal. This step will take somewhere between 15 and 30 minutes to finish.

Apply by Phone

We use an "automated attendant" telephone system to route our calls. If you have not contacted us before about your current legal problem, press the number "3" on your telephone keypad.  After you press "3", you’ll hear a message about what will happen during the intake process and how to file a complaint if you believe you were not treated properly. There may be a wait before you can speak with someone, perhaps as long as 30 minutes if you call during the busiest times (often on a Tuesday morning after a Monday holiday). Your wait will likely be shortest if you call in the afternoon and in the middle of the week. We do have a call back feature that allows you to put in your phone number and have the system call you back when it is your turn in line.

The first person you will speak with will be an intake worker who will ask you all the information contained in the online application including 1) basic information such as your full name, your date of birth, zip code, and the opposing party’s name; 2) contact information such as your address, telephone numbers where you can be reached; 3) financial information about your household’s income and assets; and 4)  information about your legal problem.  This interview will probably take anywhere from 15 - 40 minutes to complete. 

Based upon all the information you give us, the intake worker may tell you that we cannot assist you with your problem because your income is too high or because we do not help with the type of problem you have. The intake worker might give you a referral to another organization.

The intake worker may also transfer your call to an attorney or specialized paralegal in our office which may take anywhere from 15-30 minutes. Some problems can be resolved over the telephone. In urgent circumstances, you may be asked to come into the ULS office nearest you. For example, this will happen if you are being evicted and you must respond to a summons within the next few days. In that case, we will want to review the papers and the circumstances to determine if you have any defense.

Apply Now

We encourage you to Apply Online or call us at 801-328-8891 between the hours of 9:00 am and 2:00 pm, Monday through Friday to see if we can help you.

Where Else Can I Go if ULS Can't Help Me?

EMERGENCY - If you are being threatened with death or bodily harm or injury, seek safety immediately and call 911 from any phone.

Utah State Bar Resouces

Court Resources

The Utah State Courts put together a short video of pointers located here for presenting your case. The video focuses on the juvenile court and contains some information that is relevant only for lawyers. However, most of the points are universal.

In addition, the Utah State Courts have many resources that may help you.  These are located at www.utcourts.gov.  Some of the most popular are:

American Bar Association Resources

  • Free Legal Answers: Free Legal Answers is a free virtual legal advice clinic.  Qualified users post their legal question, and volunteer attorneys respond with legal information and advice.

Non-Legal Resources

2-1-1 Logo

If you need immediate assistance with housing, food, free clinics, mental health services or other community services call 2-1-1 or online at 211 website.

 

For Assistance with Food or Emergency Shelter - Click on the appropriate link below:

Find a food pantry that serves your local community.

Find a homeless shelter or affordable housing in your local community.

For Domestic Violence - If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, help is available. You can contact the Utah Domestic Violence Council(UDVC) for a list of shelters available by city or call 800-897-LINK (5465) 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for a referral to an agency that can best serve you.

If you need help immediately or are in danger, you should call 911.

You may also call the National Domestic Violence Hotline 24-hours a day at 800-799-7233.