Teleconferencing allows for state-wide talks with attorneys

By Jackson Foster
UNC Staff Writer
the Durham VOICE

The Technology Assisted Legal Instruction and Services (TALIAS), based out of North Carolina Central University, provides legal clinic services to low-income residents in underserved communities through teleconferencing.

Greg Clinton, Director of IT, and Pam Glean, Associate Dean for Clinical and Professional Skills, pose in front of the videoconferencing screens that links universities across the state and allows for attorneys to talk to people no matter where they are located.

TALIAS lets lawyers communicate with people across the state, and one of the things they are doing is holding a series on different topics in family law led by attorney Nakia Davis, supervising attorney of the Family Law Clinic at NCCU.

Davis leads the series of discussion titled, “Child Support: ‘It’s More Than Money’.”

In between these sessions she holds question and answer sessions about anything having to do with family law, and she does her best to tell it straight.

In response to a question about how to handle a case about how to reevaluate the amount of child support Davis said, “Let me tell you where people mess up.”

“If you have an agent, get with your agent,” she said. And that does not mean calling them. “Make an appointment. They have good advice.”

Davis said that agents can run worksheets to show how child support payments may change.  With so many variables though, she continued, it is hard to tell if it will go up or down, and an agent can give a rough idea of whether it would be better to reevaluate or not.

“Once it’s in court, it’s in court, and it is what it is.”

The session was open to all questions, and many were about divorce.

She explained, “You have 30 days from being served to respond.” Also, if you don’t respond in the 30 days then the person who served the papers is granted their requests.

“I advise you count 30 days and put it on your calendar,” she said, adding that it is possible to request an additional 30 days.

Davis also recommended getting an attorney if equitable distribution is desired by either side in the divorce, “it is intricate and detailed,” she said.

One woman, who called in from Elizabeth City, who did not identify herself, had papers scattered around the table at which she was seated.

She kept asking questions about a multitude of unrelated scenarios leading Davis to ask, “Where are you getting all these questions? Who are you?”

“People in my congregation,” the woman responded. She had collected questions and situations from people at her church and was there to get them answers.

She wanted to know how to handle serving divorce papers to someone when their location is not known.

“Someone in that church knows where she lives,” Davis commented.  The woman laughed and said she attended a different church.

Davis responded by saying it is possible to serve papers by trying to find them through the Department of Motor Vehicles, and if that does not work then they can be served by publication in a newspaper.

The questions dealt with more than divorce though, with another participant asking who was responsible for child support in the case of a teenage pregnancy where the teenagers were under 18.

“Parents are liable,” Davis said. “Don’t care if they’re mad or if they don’t agree with it. The law is the law.”

These sessions are open to the public and take place at the NCCU School of Law. The next session on child support is titled “Child Support Show Cause Orders,” where Davis will talk about nonpayment. It takes place on Nov. 6th at 6 p.m.

On Oct. 23rd two attorneys will talk about the “Two sides of Domestic Violence” at 6 p.m.

The main distribution of these services is through videoconferencing with locations at Legal Aid of North Carolina offices and NCCU, Elizabeth State University, Winston-Salem State University, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University and Fayetteville State University.

These locations also will be linked via the teleconferencing equipment for the sessions.