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Initiative Underway to Provide Family Law Clinics Statewide

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Initiative Underway to Provide Family Law Clinics Statewide
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Legal-Aid Clinic, June 7, 2018, in Vicksburg
Courtesy: Miss. State Supreme Court

Mississippi legal aid services are partnering with law firms to help people who can't pay hundreds of dollars for an attorney.

Joycetine Spaulding of Jackson, and her husband didn't know where to turn when their daughter, 37-year old Tammyetta Spaulding, disappeared in September of 2016. They needed legal guardianship of their two granddaughters to take care of them. The couple couldn't afford an attorney. Spaulding says they constantly had to explain their situation to try to obtain services for the children and register them for school and were turned away. A hospital co-worker told her to call The Mississippi Volunteer Lawyers Project.

"It helps when we go to the doctor. I show them the piece of paper and now I don't have to keep explaining my situation over and over again. I don't have to worry about reliving all that crime again," said Spaulding.

Spaulding's daughter's case remains unsolved. Gayla Carpenter-Sanders is with the Mississippi Volunteer Lawyers Project. She says they're partnering with organizations and law firms to provide legal advice at clinics statewide, free of charge, for those who qualify and can't afford the legal fees.

"You have some clinics that are just focusing on guardianships. You have other clinics that are focusing irreconcilable difference or no-fault divorces or they may be assisting with name changes," said Sanders.

Sanders says attorneys walk people through the process step-by-step, provide the needed documents and it's up to the person to follow-through. The state supreme court is pushing the initiative and seeking to expand it because there are not enough legal aid attorneys to help those who qualify. Clinics are being held through November. People can contact the Mississippi Volunteer Lawyers Project to register.