The Elkhart County Judges, along with the Indiana Supreme Court, recommend against your attempting to proceed in court without the representation of a lawyer. Representing yourself in court should not be taken lightly, and there are many instances in which hiring an attorney is a good idea. If you are charged with a criminal offense, the Court can appoint an attorney for you if you cannot afford to hire one.
The Court, Court Staff and Clerk Staff will not answer your questions on how to accomplish a particular task in the Court system because they are under the obligation to remain neutral in all matters before the court. That means they cannot help or assist either side. If you are seeking a particular form and it is available to all persons upon request, then it will be provided to you. The staff is NOT allowed to assist you in preparation of any form or pleading.
If you decide to represent yourself, you should be aware that you will be held to the same standard as an attorney. You should review the web videos and materials at www.in.gov/judiciary/selfservice. This web site contains general information, as well as, specific instructions and forms on specific types of actions you may be attempting to accomplish.
Some other things to consider if you decide to represent yourself: The Court cannot consider a letter or other document that is Ex Parte (only one side) communication. It means a statement made to the court without the other party had notice and opportunity to respond or be heard cannot be considered. The Court may only consider properly filed pleadings that contain a certificate of service to the other party. The court cannot act on any properly filed pleading without the opposing party having an opportunity to be heard in open court or by filing a responsive pleading.
On the other hand, if you and the other party are in agreement, you may file a stipulation or agreement that is in writing specifically stating your agreement and the document must be signed by all parties before a notary or the Clerk of the Court. The court may not approve your agreement if it is contrary to law.
Remember, every court action is based upon written law/statute, Court Rules or the body of law that develops from Appellate Court decisions. Each of those areas develops and change on a regular basis.
The BEST thing for you to do is consult with an ATTORNEY. If you cannot afford an attorney, certain agencies may be able to assist you, but you must qualify for their assistance based upon financial need.
P.O. Box 1358 117 ½ N. Main St. South Bend, IN 46624
Monday – Friday: 9:00am – 5:00pm
315 S. Second St. Elkhart, IN 46516
Monday: 8:00am – 12:00pm,
& 1:00pm – 5:00pm
Tuesday – Thursday:
8:00am – 12:00pm,
& 1:00pm – 4:00pm
220 West High Street, Elkhart, IN 46516
401 E Colfax Ave #116, South Bend, IN 46617
Monday – Friday: 8:00am – 4:30pm
725 Howard Street South Bend, IN 46617