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Help for Grandparents seeking custody in florida

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Lukes Dad's picture
on Mon, 03/19/2012 - 13:04

More Grandparents Seeking Custody Rights

Coordinator helps speed up, simplify the complicated, paper-heavy process.

Published: Friday, July 22, 2011 at 11:35 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, July 22, 2011 at 11:35 p.m.

LAKELAND | Despite her massive workload, Dorene Yates keeps a pristine desk.



Senior citizens seeking assistance with the legalities of the child custody process can contact Florida Rural Legal Services Inc. by calling 863-688-7376.

For questions about filling out child custody paperwork, call Devreaux Florida Kids Gap Project at 863-298-4400.

Lawyers interested in offering their services should call 863-688-7376 number and ask for Dorene Yates.

A lone force in Central Florida, Yates works as the region's only coordinator for connecting people who need legal help with pro bono lawyers .

And though she says the need for her services has risen in the last year, there is one area especially in focus right now:

Grandparents seeking custody of their grandchildren.

"When these children get dropped off at the grandparents' house and the parents disappear, they can't get them to the doctor," Yates explained, "they can't get them into school and they can't get government help for them unless they file the right papers."

Working from a windowless office at Florida Rural Legal Services Inc. in Lakeland, Yates said she's building a network of lawyers to help assist families through a process she and her colleagues described as a bureaucratic maze.

In a system that can often appear mired with legalities, documentation and stress, Yates and a team of loosely connected organizations are working to help senior citizens by speeding the process that transfers custodial rights to perform the child-rearing responsibilities heaped upon them.

In September 2010, the Pew Research Center published a study in which it estimated that about 4 percent of children in America are being raised by their grandparents, a figure that has steadily climbed in the past decade to represent nearly 2.9 million kids.

Central Florida didn't escape that trend, Yates said.