Formed in 1996, the Family Law Clinic stresses the importance of a holistic approach to the practice of family law. Many times, clients face a multitude of problems and their legal issues may be the most minor of them all. As a result, students are trained to identify potential social or mental health issues and address them by referring clients to appropriate community resources. For example, the Clinic refers clients to the Center for Child and Family Health, which assists clients with a myriad of issues, such as treating and preventing child abuse. For more information on the services as well as the research and training provided by the Center for Child and Family Health please visit www.ccfhnc.org.
The Family Law Clinic is a one year program that combines the learning of practical skills, North Carolina family law, pretrial litigation skills, and practical civil procedure with supervised representation of live clients. Students will intern in the clinic and extern with local agencies or family law attorneys. A variety of matters are handled by this clinic, including emergency custody orders, absolute divorces, name changes, separation agreements, competency proceedings. Legal Aid of North Carolina partners with this clinic.
Unfortunately, the Family Law Clinic is unable to provide every person who is in need of assistance with legal representation. In an effort to provide those in need with the knowledge and confidence that they can in fact represent themselves, the File It Yourself Clinic (FIYC) and our family law TALIAS projects continue to be very active, not only in our community but throughout the state. The File It Yourself Clinic provides participants who desire to file a custody action pro se with the necessary documentation to “file it” themselves for a nominal fee. In order to ensure that participants are properly completing the FIYC documentation, in September of 2012 we began the “File It Yourself Bundled Services “. During a File It Yourself Bundled Services consultation, the FLC provides a short consultation and assistance with completing the necessary documentation found in the FIYC packet to properly institute a child custody action. As it relates to our TALIAS projects, the FLC holds a session once per month on the various issues that arise in the area of child support as well as a general family law “Q and A” session.
Testimony of Our Client:
Janet Pittman* was finally ready to purchase her first home. The loan officer at her bank told her that she would probably qualify for the First Time Home Buyer’s Program, but she would need to divorce her husband, from whom she had been separated for several years, before her paper work could be completed. The only problem was that Ms. Pittman’s husband was from Kenya and had returned there shortly after their separation. Ms. Pittman had not heard from him since, and had no idea how to locate him. She could not let this obstacle prevent her from purchasing her dream home!
Ms. Pittman was referred to the Family Law Clinic. The student attorney assigned to her case immediately began research on how to locate and serve Ms. Pittman’s husband in Kenya. After several phone calls to Kenyan newspapers, relatives and friends of the couple, the husband was located and served in Kenya by certified mail. Afterwards, the student attorney represented Ms. Pittman in an uncontested divorce hearing, and the client became a thankful first time home buyer.
*The client’s name has been changed to preserve confidentiality.
Supervising Attorney: Nakia C. Davis
Potential Clients: If you need legal assistance, please contact Legal Aid of NC-Durham at 919-688-6396 for a referral to our program.