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Durham Program Hopes To Ease Difficulties Of Child Custody Battles

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DURHAM, N.C. — To get an attorney to take on a child custody case, you are looking at spending a minimum of $5,000. Most people cannot afford the fee and simply give up hope, but now there is a program designed to help people regain hope and their children.

Tony Johnson, 5, gets lots of hugs from the woman he calls Nanna. Tony's grandmother, Carline Harvey, has raised him. For years, she did not have legal custody of Tony. When he ended up in the hospital, doctors told her she could not authorize his care because she was not his legal guardian.

"It's like watching your child drown and everybody's standing around. Nobody's helping you, you're asking people to help and nobody wants to help," she said.

Attorney Pamela Glean teaches at the North Carolina Central University School of Law. NCCU and the Carolina Dispute Settlement Services of Raleigh are holding clinics to help people like Harvey.

"It's more of a social problem than it is a legal problem," Glean said.

The goal is to help them learn to navigate the complicated and expensive world of custody battles.

"We've had people hug us, crying, thanking us profusely. They are so relieved," Glean said.

Harvey was more than relieved when they helped her get full custody of Tony.

"I wouldn't have done it without them. I wouldn't know what to do, what pages to turn, who to talk to or anything," she said.

Harvey said she hopes her story will inspire others to take the ball and run with it. The next NCCU Family Law Clinic will be from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. Friday at 300 S. Salisbury St., Suite 305, Raleigh, Carolina Dispute Settlement Services. After that, starting in January, sessions will be held monthly in Durham and Raleigh.

For more information, you can call the NCCU School of Law at


Participants will be asked to pay $10 to cover the cost of printed materials.


Amanda Lamb, Reporter
Chad Flowers, Photographer
Kamal Wallace, Web Editor

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