Know Your Rights

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Updates:Hurricane Idalia

Hurricane Idalia continues to strengthen and is expected to intensify as it approaches the Gulfcoast.
GLS offices will be closed on August 29th, and August 30th. In the case of a fire, police or medical emergency, call 9-1-1.

1. Sign up for Alert Pinellas at
2. Monitor local news media, National Weather Service, and the County’s social media channels, @PinellasGov for Facebook and Twitter.

3. Check regularly for updates and shelter information. Situation: The Pinellas County Board of County Commissioners declared a State of Local Emergency due to Tropical storm Idalia's expected escalation into a hurricane.
Situation: Evac Zone A & Mobile Homes are ordered to evacuate starting at 7p.m. Monday, 8/28. Pinellas County recommends that anyone evacuating go to a zone higher than Zone B in case conditions worsen.

FIND YOUR EVACUATION ZONE: Visit Download the Ready Pinellas app at

If your property has a landline, call (727) 453-3150 and enter your 10-digit home phone number.
Residents who are deaf or hard of hearing can contact the County Information Center via online chat at


Register for special needs shelters if needed by calling the County Information Center at (727) 464-4333.
Ten public evacuation shelters are open, including pet-friendly and special needs shelters.
Full list of shelters:

SPECIAL NEEDS TRANSPORTATION: Special needs transportation will begin Tuesday morning. County staff will contact special needs residents who have pre-registered to arrange transportation to the nearest shelter. If you need help with transportation or have other special medical needs, you can register now by calling the County Information Center (727) 464-4333.


A NEEDS BAG FOR EMERGENCIES (please note: this bag may differ based on one's specific needs)
Basic items to include: 1. Water: one gallon per person, per day (3-day supply for evacuation.)
2. Food: non-perishable, easy-to-prepare (3-day supply for evacuation)
3. First aid kit
4. Medications (7-day supply) and medical items.
5. Copies of personal documents (medication list and pertinent medical information, proof of address, deed/lease to home, passports, birth certificates, insurance policies)
6. Family and emergency contact information.


1. Residents should capture photographs of their property before the storm makes landfall. These photos can serve as evidence of any damages caused by Tropical Storm Idalia, which is crucial for applying for assistance through the Florida Emergency Management Agency.

2. DCF Releasing SNAP Early due to Hurricane Idalia

Funds will be available starting on Tuesday, August 29, 2023. The Department encourages recipients who purchase food prior to landfall to focus on non-perishable items.

SNAP recipients in the following counties will receive their benefits early:
Alachua, Baker, Bay, Bradford, Calhoun, Charlotte, Citrus, Clay, Collier, Columbia, DeSoto, Dixie, Duval, Flagler, Franklin, Gadsden, Gilchrist, Gulf, Hamilton, Hardee, Hernando, Hillsborough, Jefferson, Lafayette, Lake, Lee, Leon, Levy, Liberty, Madison, Manatee, Marion, Nassau, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, Putnam, Sarasota, Seminole, St. Johns, Sumter, Suwannee, Taylor, Union, Volusia, and Wakulla counties.

3. Receive Emergency Medications in Advance:
Rx Open provides information on the operating status of healthcare facilities in areas impacted by a disaster. When the map is active for an event, users can use the Facilities map to search for individual facility status. The Counties map displays a summary of operating status at the county level. Access the website for more information.

(The information on this page is obtained from Pinellas County, the Florida Emergency Management Agency, and other community partners.)

Family Law Tips

- If you are in fear of domestic or have been a victim of domestic or sexual violence you may qualify for a protection order to keep that person away from you whether you are married or not.

- The length of time it takes to get a divorce in Florida depends on if the couple agrees to the divorce or not. Florida law requires a judge to wait 20 days from the time a divorce petition is filed to grant a divorce, unless the couple waives this requirement. The law also requires each side be given 30 days to prepare for a final hearing of divorce, unless waived by the couple. Ultimately, whether the divorce will be contested or not determines the length of time it takes to get divorced in Florida.

- When a couple is not married and there is neither an acknowledgement of paternity form or a paternity order in place, the mother is the natural guardian.

- When you involve your children in your divorce, you are putting them in the middle of a high conflict situation, and it is extremely dangerous to your relationship with your child and puts them in an anxiety provoking situation. This can also be extremely damaging to your legal case on custody.

- Even if you are not current on child support or not paying support, you may be entitled to timesharing with your children.

- All property accumulated in a marriage is likely to be deemed martial property and to be split in the divorce, therefore it cannot be sold, destroyed, or given away while the divorce is ongoing.

- Who gets the house in a divorce? A judge can award the marital home to one spouse as part of property distribution in your divorce, provided the party can pay for the costs to maintain the home. A court will look at several factors to decide who gets the house and may also order the house be sold and the proceeds divided. This assumes that the house qualifies as “marital” property and not one spouse’s sole, separate property.

If you are a victim of domestic or sexual violence, GLS can assist you with protection orders, divorce, paternity and many other family law issues.

Housing & Financial Stability Tips

- Read your lease before signing.

- If your lease ends and you do not sign a renewal you are now on a month-to-month that only requires 14 days-notice to vacate.

- Know your responsibilities under the lease/know LL’s responsibilities under the lease.

- Put all requests for maintenance/repairs in writing.

- Security deposit is not at issue until after you have vacated the property.

- Low income, disability, age, lack of ability to find alternative housing arrangements, and other general difficulties will not prevent an eviction.

- Evictions stay on your record, even if they are ultimately dismissed.If you cannot pay for it with cash, you cannot afford it.

- Having an emergency fund is a must.

- Have a plan every month for every dollar you earn.

- List your debts smallest to largest and knock them out.

- Doing a budget takes about three months to perfect. Don’t worry about not being spot on every time.

Taxation Tips

- Don’t forget to file your taxes in a timely manner! Find the deadlines early. If you have a balance due and you do not file and pay your taxes on time, you will face added penalties and fees on any tax liability that you owe.

- If your employer mailed you an incorrect tax form, diligently reach out to them and or the IRS in order to rectify any incorrect information. Filing a tax return using different information than what is reported on your tax form may lead to increased processing time, penalties, and a potential audit examination. Avoid this by requesting a corrected tax form from your employer or reach out to the IRS.

- If you are due a refund, failure to file your Federal tax return within three years of the date in which it was due will result in the loss of that refund forever.

GLS can assist you in reviewing incorrect tax form or addressing tax controversies.
lgbtq rights

LGBTQ Rights

Name Change FAQs:

- You must have lived in FL for 6 months before applying for a legal name change.

- There is a filing fee waiver for the $400 filing fee (Affadavit of Determination of Civil Indigent Status). If your income is too high to get a waiver, you can ask for a payment plan.

- Your name won't automatically be changed on all your documents. Use your court ordered document to change your name everywhere else it appears.

- Surgery is NOT required to change your gender marker and a court order is NOT required to change your gender marker.

GLS can assist with lost or incorrect birth certificates.

For more information about legal name changes, visit

For information about trauma-informed care and more resources CLICK HERE.