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Be sure to check back regularly to get our latest blog posts and news updates.


Is someone trying to adopt your child? Your biological child? And you don’t want them to? For anyone facing a situation where someone is trying to adopt his or her child without consent, it can be helpful to know what Arkansas courts are currently thinking on this issue. Read this to better understand your rights.

“Why don’t you just leave?” A question many of our clients have heard before. The truth is, leaving is not always that simple. For many victims of domestic violence, there are multiple barriers to leaving the abusive relationship: children, fear, love, and even money.

Legal Aid of Arkansas has assembled a list of all the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and Tax Centers for the Elderly (TCE) in Arkansas state. You can find a VITA/TCE site near you by searching in your county section or by calling 1-800-906-9887.

The Federal Trade Commission made final amendments to the Used Car Rule (formally known as the Used Motor Vehicle Trade Regulation Rule). The changes require car dealers to display a window sticker, or “Buyers Guide,” on used cars offered for sale. The Guide discloses whether the dealer is offering to sell a used car “as is” (without a warranty), or with a warranty. The FTC works to promote competition, and protect and educate consumers.

As everyone is scrambling to file their tax returns, or at least planning to file their 2016 return, you should know that there are many choices for how to do it. Below is a list of the different places you can file your tax returns and a brief description of who can qualify.

Whether due to an unexpected job loss, a medical event, a court judgment, or other change in economic circumstances, a person will find that he or she is no longer bringing in enough income to pay his or her bills. This economic condition, in which the money coming in is less than the amount going out to pay debts, is called insolvency. When a person becomes insolvent, he or she may consider bankruptcy as a way to deal with this overwhelming debt and get a fresh start.

Seven Arkansans represented by Legal Aid of Arkansas filed suit today in Pulaski County Circuit Court to stop the Department of Human Services from using a secret computer algorithm to cut Medicaid in-home services for people with disabilities such as cerebral palsy and quadriplegia. The suit alleges that DHS hid the algorithm from public input and oversight in an act of bureaucratic lawmaking that violates the Administrative Procedures Act.

It doesn’t get you into trouble. You’re not giving legal advice. It won’t make the other person stop talking. But what it will do is tell the person on the other end of the line that you care. That you’re human—and not a machine. That someone is listening to them, and that it’s safe for them to keep talking.

If you or someone you know who lives in Woodruff County has been the victim of domestic violence there are resources available in your area. You can go to the Woodruff County Circuit Clerk’s office located on the first floor of the Woodruff County Courthouse located at 500 North 3rd Street, Augusta, AR, and fill out a petition for an order of protection.

There are some common questions pertaining to the guardianship of a minor, including how to file for guardianship and the difference between guardianship and custody. Legal guardianship of minor children is regulated by state laws, meaning each state has their own unique requirements and obligations associated with becoming the guardian of a minor child.

If you are a low income taxpayer, you are eligible to have your income tax return prepared for free at a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance site. There, IRS-certified volunteers will complete and e-file your federal and state income tax return. Some sites are walk-in and some require appointments. Also, some sites, designated as an AARP or TCE site, specialize in senior citizens. See the attached list of NWA sites for the upcoming filing season. Sites open in late January or early February.

There are several important things to remember when filing for an order of protection. This includes the order that any previous acts of violence should be listed in, remembering to take and print photos of injuries to attach to the petition, being as specific and honest as possible when describing details of the assault or injury, and more.

Many of us have seen commercials about reverse mortgages. On the surface, they seem like a good deal. They promise to give people - especially elderly people - access to much needed funds. However, reverse mortgages do come with some drawbacks. Here are the 5 things you need to know about reverse mortgages.

There are many options available to anyone seeking help with tax return preparation that are free to those who qualify. The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program and the Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) program both offer free tax help for all taxpayers, and some VITA sites are even able to prepare Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) applications for free.

Many people anticipate their tax refund to help cushion holiday expenses, pay essential bills, or build savings. Everyone can begin filing their taxes when tax season begins. However, if you’re claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit or Additional Child Tax Credit , due to a new law , you won’t receive your refund until after February 15, 2017.

Are you moving homes sometime in the near future? You should know that it's important to update government agencies of any address changes for a few different reasons. By failing to report an address change, you could prevent the arrival of any government check or letter. This is especially important during tax filing season.

Probate is the process that people's families go through after they die to determine how debts are paid and who inherits what. This process can be expensive and often lasts for more than a year. There are several ways to avoid this process so that you do not own assets at your death.

The Legal Aid of Arkansas Low-Income Taxpayer Clinic (LITC) and the IRS are dedicated to preventing predatory tax return preparers from taking advantage of taxpayers. It's important that you file both an accurate and on-time return and make smart choices when choosing a tax refund preparer if you decide to hire one.

Beginning in 2017, if a taxpayer claims the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) or Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC) on their tax return, the IRS must hold their refund until at least February 15. This change helps ensure that taxpayers receive the refund they are owed by giving us more time to help detect and prevent fraud.

Medical Legal Partnerships have been established in almost 300 health care institutions in 41 different states. The mission? To improve the health and well-being of people and communities by using lawyers to tackle health-harming legal needs and social-conditions.

After months of uncertainty, more than 7,000 elderly and disabled Arkansans can rest easier in their own homes. Federal Judge D. Price Marshall ruled that the in-home care hours that allow them to avoid institutionalization cannot be arbitrarily cut. Judge Marshall ruled that the Arkansas Department of Human Services did not provide adequate notice about changes in the ways hours of care were determined.

For many people, the most impactful barrier to employment in the criminal record. Many employers use criminal records as a way to narrow the applicant pool to whom the employer deems most qualified. However, some uses of criminal backgrounds might violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

More often than we care to think, we’ve all been caught seeking help in a crisis. Oftentimes it’s a crisis involving a problem of close proportions, our personal relationships, families and job contacts. This makes the crisis particularly painful, generally leaving us stress-filled and in the dark as to what to do and what resources are available. It’s during these times that we need to turn to knowledgeable, trusted and reliable resources for help.

If you filed an extension request to file your income tax return for 2015, the deadline is now approaching! You must file your return by Monday, October 17, or face a penalty for failure to return your file.

Did you know that the Fair Housing Act makes it illegal for a landlord to discriminate against a tenant or prospective tenant with an emotional support animal? The Fair Housing Act applies even when the landlord has a “no pets” policy, as long as the landlord owns more than three single family homes.

For any homeowner who may be considering a loan modification under the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP), you need to be aware that HAMP and many of the other programs under the Making Home Affordable program are coming to an end.

We live in a society where getting things done in the fastest and cheapest way possible is the goal. Using Orders of Protection to modify custody orders can do just that: if there is a prior custody order, using an Order of Protection to modify that order only puts a Band-Aid on the bigger issue of modifying custody and has other negative implications as well.

If the child was born during marriage and you and your spouse are separated but not yet divorced, and there is no other court order in place, then you are considered joint custodians and have equal rights of access to the child.

A rent-to-own home contract may seem like a good idea, but purchasers often lose thousands of dollars in these deals and wind up without the home. The sad reality is that few of these agreements end in actual purchases because of the many dangers that come with entering this kind of a contract.

The law surrounding special education is confusing and is not often explained to parents. Many parents are left to figure out the law alone, and are not always fully aware of their child’s rights. To help parents better understand their child's rights, here is a more detailed explanation of the Special Education and IEP law.

The Short family tragedy is a jarring reminder that abuse doesn’t have to be physical to turn fatal.
Source: She Was Leaving Her Emotionally Abusive Husband. Now The Whole Family Is Dead. | The Huffington Post.

The major credit reporting agencies have a big change in the works that could bolster a lot of people’s credit scores.
Source: Is This the Biggest Change to Credit Reports in Years? | Credit.com

This week the IRS warned taxpayers that there has been a recent increase of IRS impersonation scams in the form of automated calls. These callers are demanding tax payments and making threats against taxpayers.

Got a federal student loan complaint? The U.S. Department of Education has officially launched a new complaint site to help solve problems borrowers are having with federal student loan balances, loan servicers, debt collectors and schools’ financial aid offices.
Student loan holders can file a complaint using their Federal Student Aid identification number (FSA ID) or they can submit complaints anonymously.

The IRS recently opened up its “get transcript” function on irs.gov after one year of unavailability. This tool gives taxpayers access to a copy of their tax transcripts and other important tax documents. The IRS has strengthened its authentication process to protect against identity theft. The new process is a two-step authentication process.

The access to justice gap is wide in Arkansas. Nearly one-third of Arkansans qualify for free legal services. Arkansas’s two pro bono law firms, Legal Aid of Arkansas and Center for Arkansas Legal Services, work diligently to address the gap in access to justice.

Filing season for 2015 is behind us, but many taxpayers still owe the IRS. During May the IRS sends out many tax due notices, causing panic for many. If you can’t pay the entire balance due, you don’t have to. The IRS has collection alternatives, including monthly payment plans.

Starting in May, Lee Richardson will provide monthly updates about Legal Aid’s activities, events, and staff. Lee Richardson is the Executive Director of Legal Aid of Arkansas.

The Department of Human Services has unjustifiably and arbitrarily cut Medicaid services for two individuals with severe disabilities, putting them at risk of having to leave their homes and go to nursing facilities.

In observance of Law Day, May 1, 2016, Legal Aid recognized the outstanding volunteer attorneys who donated their time to help clients who could not otherwise afford an attorney. These private attorneys help us ensure equal access to justice for all.

National Reentry Week is a program created by the United States Department of Justice (DOJ). The DOJ is partnering with national and local organizations across the country to coordinate events, and to draw attention to the importance of reentry work.

Until recently, the Craighead County District Court was using a non-criminal statute to criminally sanction people with mental illness. The CCDC has a history of imposing fines and fees on individuals arrested under A.C.A. 12-11-110, Arkansas’s Drunk, Insane, or Disorderly statute.

The deadline to file your individual income tax return is right around the corner. The normal filing deadline is April 15. However, this year, through a weirdness in the calendar, the deadline is extended to Monday, April 18. That’s still only a few days away.

Two years have passed since the comprehensive overhaul of the Arkansas’ expungement statutes went into effect. Providing clearer, standardized definitions for sealing records, the law has had time to be implemented and interpreted by the Courts. This article will focus on the current state of sealing criminal records in Arkansas.

It’s income tax season! With the April 15 filing deadline right around the corner, it seems like a good time to answer some common tax questions.

The Legal Aid of Arkansas Board of Directors will meet at 9:00 a.m. Saturday, March 26th at the Durand Center at North Arkansas College, Community First Bank Partners Room located at 303 North Main Street, Harrison, AR 72601.

The Arkansas Court of Appeals has upheld a $37,800 judgment against a Paragould landlord for violations of the Fair Housing Act. Previously, the Greene County Circuit Court awarded the judgment for an incident that occurred on November 15, 2012.

Legal Aid of Arkansas is excited to announce the sixth annual Spring Break on the Road to Justice Program, running from March 21-24, 2016. With the Road to Justice Program, law students join Legal Aid staff to meet with low-income Arkansans who need legal help.

February 28: on this day in history, attorneys went before the U.S. Supreme Court to argue a case that would become perhaps the nation’s best-known Supreme Court decision, Miranda v. Arizona. That case is about criminal procedure, so you might be asking yourself what it has to do with Legal Aid of Arkansas. Read on!

It's important to understand your rights when a collector calls about an old debt. This FTC article discusses your rights and responsibilities.
Source: http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0117-time-barred-debts

February 10, 2016 – As a result of the recent severe storms and tornadoes in Arkansas, the Arkansas Bar and the Young Lawyers’ Section, in conjunction with FEMA, the American Bar Association Young Lawyers Division, the Arkansas Emergency Management Agency, the Center ...

On March 1, patients and families of Arkansas Children’s Hospital can come to this training to learn about school issues, special education issues, and school safety.
The training will be in the Sturgis Building at ACH, in the Family Resource Center on the first floor. There are two presentations back-to-back. The first is from 6-7 p.m., and the second is from 7-8 p.m.

Circuit Judge Chalk Mitchell receives a plaque recognizing his 13 years service on the Legal Aid of Arkansas board. Judge Mitchell served on the board from January 2002 until he was appointed to the Circuit Judge position in the Fall of 2015.

Get free tax preparation and legal assistance on Super Saturday – Presented by Southern Bancorp! Organizations will be on hand to file taxes, prepare simple wills, advance directives, and powers of attorney for healthcare or financial matters.

(BOSTON) With all the W-2s sent and tax season in high gear, advocates from the National Consumer Law Center and Consumer Federation of America issued their annual advisory warning of the risks and problems faced by taxpayers who use paid tax preparers.

Today, February 1st, marks the day that the majority of taxpayers have received their tax compliance forms (W-2s). If you need assistance filing your income tax returns, locate a VITA site near you. And, if you can’t find a site near you, you can also call 1-800-906-9887 just in case the list has missed a site.

Today, January 29, 2016, marks the 10th anniversary of EITC Awareness Day, a nationwide effort to increase awareness about EITC and free tax preparation sites. This year, IRS is promoting EITC providing information on other refundable tax credits that you may be eligible for.

A judge ruled Wednesday that tenants of Alexander Apartments on Colonel Glenn Road don't have to move out of their homes over the Christmas holiday as Little Rock officials had ordered earlier this week.
Source: Apartments’ tenants stay, judge decides | NWADG

Legal Aid has made Medicaid cases a priority this year and has achieved great results for our clients, but there are still many that need help accessing their coverage. If you’re still waiting on a decision from the DHS regarding a Medicaid, ARKids, or Private Option application, call our Helpline at 1-800-952-9243.
Speed bumps continue to crop up as the Arkansas Department of Human Services attempts to transfer to a new computer software system.

Source: CFPB Monthly Complaint Snapshot Examines Bank Account and Service Complaints > Newsroom > Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

Gov. Asa Hutchinson has directed the Department of Human Services to pause development of its $112-million-over-budget computerized Medicaid Enrollment and Eligibility Framework (EEF) after receiving a report from a consultant recommending he do so.
Source: Gov. Hutchinson Tells DHS To Pause Over-Budget Medicaid Computer System | KUAR

Join us for the 5th Annual Law Day Running Festival on May 7, 2016 in Jonesboro, AR! The festival will feature both a 10K and a 5K. Runners and walkers will be treated to flat and fast courses designed to showcase the historic and cultural center of Northeast Arkansas.

 

Disclaimer
This Blog/Webpage is made available by Legal Aid of Arkansas for educational purposes only as well as to give you general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. Using this webpage does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Legal Aid of Arkansas. The Blog/Webpage should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.

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