Program aims at custody laws

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 21, 2004

AHOSKIE – Separation and divorce are unfortunate staples of life, but the tragic victims in these acts of disrupting family bonds are the children.

In too many cases, the end result of separation leaves young children without the benefit of having close, personal ties with at least one parent. In some situations, the custody parent fails to abide by the legalities of a separation/divorce and will deny or deter their former mate the opportunity to spend quality time with their own children.

Tomorrow (Friday, Jan. 23) Legal Aid of North Carolina, Inc. will host a Self Empowerment Clinic, explaining custody and visitation rights for residents of the 6B Judicial District – Bertie, Hertford and Northampton counties. This clinic, scheduled for 4:30-6:30 p.m. at the Ahoskie office of Legal Aid of North Carolina (610 East Church St.), is offered free of charge.

Those wishing to enroll are urged to do so immediately due to limited space. Registrations will be accepted from 8:45 a.m. until 5:15 p.m. at the Ahoskie office. Contact Dorothy Harris at 332-5124 (ext. 226) or call, toll-free, 1-800-682-0010.

The clinics will cover the legal rights regarding custody and visitation. There will also be a demonstration on completing custody/visitation complaint forms.

The Self Empowerment Clinics are designed to teach the clients the meaning of Pro se, representing one’s self. Clients are not provided with legal representation. They will be provided with assistance of how to how to fill out and file a custody/visitation complaint form, how to file the form through the legal system and educate the clients on the filing fees.

&uot;If the matter is not resolved through mediation, then the client will have to proceed pro se, representing themselves on a pro se petition in District Court, or retain private counsel,&uot; said Harris.

She stressed this was a &uot;win-win&uot; process, especially for the children of separated or divorced parents.

&uot;By helping these parents reunite with their kids, it’s the children who are the winners in all of this,&uot; noted Harris.

Legal Aid of North Carolina Inc. offers free legal assistance to income eligible individuals in an 11-county service area from Halifax eastward to Dare County. Client representation is limited to matters in civil law.

The mission of the organization is to educate the communities in its service area in regards to legal rights.

Income eligible individuals are assisted in the legal areas of employment, housing, public benefits, consumer rights, debt relief, family law and wills and estates.