Gartin Building Courtroom with the Great Seal of the State of Mississippi

Guardianship Clinic will assist with school enrollment in Hinds County

July 27, 2010

Legal assistance will be available Aug. 4 and 5 to help establish guardianships to allow Hinds County children to enroll in school.

Schools require documentation of legal guardianship before enrolling a child living with someone other than a parent. Grandparents and other relatives must have guardianship documents filed in Chancery Court. Attorneys working with the Mississippi Volunteer Lawyers Project will assist low income people with the filing of guardianship petitions in Hinds County Chancery Court.

Guardianship clinics will be held at the Jackson Eudora Welty Library 3:30 to 7:30 p.m. Aug. 4 and on the third floor of the Hinds County Chancery Courthouse at 316 South President St. from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Aug. 5.

The Mississippi Volunteer Lawyers Project can provide legal assistance to qualifying low income people who need help getting children enrolled in public schools in Hinds County. This includes city and county schools.

Volunteer lawyers donate their time to assist. However, persons seeking to obtain legal guardianship are responsible for paying the $107 Chancery Court filing fee. The court requires cash or a money order.

The service is provided in an effort to avoid delays in enrollment. La'Verne Edney, general counsel of the Mississippi Volunteer Lawyers Project, said, “ Unfortunately, we have had situations in which children were out of school for up to a month because they did not have the guardianship documents done. We are trying to provide a service to allow children to register on the first day of school and not have to start later.”

This is the third year that the Volunteer Lawyers Project and the Hinds County Chancery Court have worked together to provide the guardianship clinic. Hinds Chancery Judge Denise Owens said the clinic helps solve problems for people who don’t have money to hire lawyers and don’t know how to obtain a guardianship.

Judge Owens said, “In the past, at the beginning of the school year, people would show up at the courthouse because the school district would tell them to go get a court order for guardianship. People would show up at the courthouse thinking there are orders available for them to get. Unfortunately they did not know how to access the courts in order to get the guardianship orders.”

At the clinic, volunteer lawyers will draft the pleadings required to request a guardianship, and get a judge to sign them.

Mississippi Volunteer Lawyers Project Executive Director Shirley Williams said, “The Mississippi Volunteer Lawyers Project has witnessed, year after year, the gratifying experience of how just one act of public service can make a difference in the lives of those who are unable to afford legal representation. We are grateful to Judge Denise Owens, the Hinds County Chancery Court staff, and all of the volunteer lawyers for partnering with us to make this effort a success.”

Persons seeking to establish guardianship and enroll children in a city or county public school in Hinds County must bring with them to the guardianship clinic documents including:

• recent utility bill or tax bill in the guardian’s name;

• mortgage document or a current lease. Lease papers must list the child as a tenant.

• child’s birth certificate long form;

• child’s original Social Security card;

• child’s Mississippi Immunization Form 121;

• withdrawal papers from the last school the child attended;

• photo identification of the person seeking guardianship of the minor child;

• photo identification of the natural parent or parents of the minor child;

• death certificate of a child’s deceased parent;

• proof of income such as check stub or income tax return;

• court filing fee of $107 in cash or money order. Personal checks are not accepted.

Persons seeking guardianship must have consent from the natural parents. The natural parent or parents must accompany the person seeking guardianship to sign documents.

For more information about the guardianship clinic, call the Mississippi Volunteer Lawyers Project at 601-960-9577.