Muscatine Legal Services (MLS) is a private, non-profit corporation which was founded in 1971. The primary purpose of MLS is to provide low-cost legal advice or representation to persons who would otherwise be unable to afford legal assistance.
MLS is governed by a board of direction. There are currently seven community volunteers serving on the board from a variety of professions and backgrounds.
Contrary to common belief, MLS is not affiliated with the more widely known Legal Aid and receives no Federal or State funding.
Of Course, MLS maintain a good relationship with other legal services or legal aid organizations but is entirely independent. MLS receives funding from:
The mission of MLS is to provide quality legal assistance to low-income residents of Muscatine County.
The following are types of civil matters handled by MLS, but are not limited to:
Dissolution of Marriage
Actions for Child Support
Family Law Matters
Guardianship or Conservatorship
Social Security Claims
In addition to these civil matters, MLS handles cases which are appointed by the court. MLS assists defendants in criminal misdemeanor cases. These cases include persons who have been charged with offenses such as driving while intoxicated or shoplifting, and who are entitled to representation but can not afford to hire a private attorney.
Also by court appointment, MLS handles cases of children in need of assistance (CINA), or children who have been accused of delinquent behavior; or both type of cases being in juvenile court.
Services are offered to residents of Muscatine County whose income falls below 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines.
Occasionally, a case will be accepted where the client does not reside within the country, but the action is occurring in Muscatine, and the person otherwise qualifies for MLS’s services.
MLS charges civil clients a minimal attorney fee. These fees range from $20 per hour up to $100 per hour based upon the clients’ income level. Clients are also responsible for court costs and service fees.
MLS also has a domestic Violence Victim Assistance program. MLS partners with Family Resources to offer free representation in obtaining restraining orders. In addition, MLS will provide no-cost assistance to victims in divorce and custody actions, provided that they are separated from the abuser for a period of six months.