When NOT To Send Flowers

When someone has filed against you a Temporary Injunction for Protection Against Domestic Violence, that is bad timing for a big bouquet of red roses.  It is a violation of the injunction to have contact of any kind, including phone calls and sending flowers. A Temporary Injunction of this type means the defendant cannot come home from work that day, not even to get his belongings.  It takes the defendant out of the home fast and without warning, often with only the clothes on his back…even if he pays most or all of the rent or mortgage. Sometimes that is necessary.  I have great compassion for trial judges who have to make tough decisions in cases of domestic violence and try to err on the side of not getting somebody hurt (or worse). If you are a defendant in a domestic violence case do not send flowers, but do bring an attorney.  Yes, your partner may be lying, but the Judge will probably rule on the side of caution.  Use legal representation to properly sort out your rights from the wrongs.   Read More

Legal Class on ‘Domestic Violence Laws and Resources’

This FREE class will be presented by St. Johns County Legal Aid at 4:00 p.m. at the Southeast Branch Library (6670 US 1 South, St. Augustine, Florida).  The program is free and open to the public.  For more information, call (904) 824-6900.     Read More

Who Needs a Lawyer at an Evidentiary Hearing After a Temporary Injunction?

Answer:  Both sides.  A Temporary Injunction for Protection Against Domestic Violence separates the two parties until they can both appear before a judge at an evidentiary hearing.  That hearing is like a mini-trial.  While you can represent yourself in court, this is a situation where it is advantageous for both parties to have competent legal representation. The law is technical, and from a technical standpoint there are things you can mess up that will hurt what you are trying to accomplish.  Judges have to make tough decisions in these matters, and they generally want to err on the side of not getting somebody hurt (or worse).  The judge will have better evidence to make a proper decision if you have counsel.  While you have the absolute right to represent yourself, without legal training and experience, you can unnecessarily change the outcome of the hearing, sometimes with disastrous results.  Do not put yourself in harm’s way by making an ignorant mistake in court. Also, an attorney can reframe the situation so you can objectively evaluate your legal choices and the consequences of those choices. Read More

Marriage Choice

SpaceX had a failure to launch yesterday, but not same-sex marriage.  A lawful marriage is now a choice for same-sex couples in Florida, which could create a new necessity for the gay and lesbian community:  divorce. With just a minute to spare on the countdown clock, SpaceX cancelled its Tuesday mission, citing a problem with a “thrust vector control actuator.”  When it comes to dissolution of marriage, Florida is a no-fault state, so you do not have to give a reason to get divorced, though “thrust vector control actuator” sounds like it would strain any relationship. If marriage is a choice; divorce might be a necessity, but you can choose how you go about it. In divorce, when the love is gone, it is only math.  (In rocket science, it is always only math.)  If your marriage has a failure to launch (or other irreconcilable difficulties), you have a choice of how to deal with it: Courtroom Drama OR Therapeutic Divorce You can choose all the courtroom drama drawn out over a fortune in legal fees, or you might consider Therapeutic Divorce. The idea behind Therapeutic Divorce is to work out the details while allowing both sides to continue to […] Read More

New Lease on Life – Legal Aid

What do you do if you are disabled, elderly, living on a fixed income, and your landlord locks you out of your apartment?  Contact Legal Aid. St. Johns County Legal Aid “Provides a wealth of justice for those who have neither.”  It is a lot of administrative law, poverty law—a lot of law that most people are unaware of—that makes a huge difference in individual’s lives.  It can give a new lease on life, whether in a landlord-tenant case or other civil law matter (such as consumer debt, foreclosure, housing, elder law, and family law). If you are seeking an attorney but think you cannot afford one, contact your local legal aid office.  Even if you do not qualify for service, the offices have many helpful pamphlets or they can refer you to attorneys willing to take cases at reduced rates.  St. Johns Legal Aid is located at 222 San Marco Avenue in St. Augustine and they are open 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. every business day. In St. Johns County, visit http://jaxlegalaid.org/v2/pamphlets/St.%20Johns%20County%20Legal%20Aid%20Information.pdf, and in Jacksonville, visit http://www.jaxlegalaid.org/v2/. Read More

Bad Decisions in Horror Movies & Divorce

If you are in a horror movie, you make bad decisions—it is what you do.  In divorce, you can hide behind the chainsaws, but you do not have to.  If both sides are ready to sit down and take the necessary steps to complete the procedure, then a divorce can be over and done with in about a month, and it does not have to cost a fortune…and nobody has to head for the cemetery. Marriage is a choice; divorce might be a necessity, so why not get in the running car to leave a bad situation?  Therapeutic Divorce offers that running car. Florida is a no-fault state, meaning you can get divorced if you just say the marriage is irretrievably broken.  Furthermore, you can choose to have a Therapeutic Divorce (which has nothing to do with aroma therapy and also does not mean you keep getting divorced until you feel better).  The idea behind Therapeutic Divorce is to work out the details while allowing both sides to continue to be good parents, good employees or employers, good at whatever it is that they are.  It keeps the focus on the business of how best to deal with the details. […] Read More

Love & Math

When the love is gone, it is only math.  If both sides are ready to sit down and take the necessary steps to complete the procedure, then a divorce can be over and done with in about a month, and it does not have to cost a fortune or the remainder of your sanity. Marriage is a choice; divorce might be a necessity, but you can choose how you go about it.  Divorce does not have to be a blood sport. Florida is a no-fault state, meaning you can get divorced if you just say the marriage is irretrievably broken.  Furthermore, you can choose to have a Therapeutic Divorce (no, that does not mean you keep getting divorced until you feel better).  The idea behind Therapeutic Divorce is to work out the details while allowing both sides to continue to be good parents, good employees or employers, good at whatever it is that they are.  It keeps the focus on the business of how best to deal with the details. Advantages to Therapeutic Divorce include the following: You negotiate the settlement (instead of having a Judge decide it for you). No public records—because Therapeutic Divorce goes through mediation and not […] Read More

Wills & Spouses

Getting married can change your life.  It can also change what happens after your death.  You cannot disinherit your spouse…no matter how much you may want to.  Regardless of what your will may or may not say, your wife or husband is entitled to your homestead property when at death you do part (unless there is a properly executed marital agreement). Even if your will was made before you got married, your spouse is still entitled to half your estate, the same as if you had died without a will. You may be “ABD” (All But Divorced), but happily or unhappily, while you are still married, you and your spouse have a Tenancy by Entirety.  Tenancy by Entirety includes the unities of Joint Tenancy with Rights of Survivorship plus the Unity of Marriage, which subscribes to the legal fiction that husband and wife are one entity.  As long as the marriage is intact, neither can break the tenancy nor otherwise convey the property. If you want your children to inherit your homestead without having to share with your estranged spouse, then divorce may be part of your estate planning.  ‘Putting your affairs in order’ may literally mean ‘putting your affairs […] Read More

May Day & Marriage

May of 2013 was the most popular month for marriages in St. Johns County…it was also the most popular month for divorce.  While 166 couples got married in May 2013, 89 couples dissolved their marriage that same month. Marriage is a choice; divorce might be a necessity, but you can choose how you go about it: Courtroom Drama OR Therapeutic Divorce You can choose all the nasty he-said / she-said courtroom drama drawn out over a fortune in legal fees, or you might consider Therapeutic Divorce. The idea behind Therapeutic Divorce is to work out the details while allowing both sides to continue to be good parents, good employees or employers, good at whatever it is that they are.  It keeps the focus on the business of how best to deal with the details. Advantages to Therapeutic Divorce include the following: You negotiate the settlement (instead of having a Judge decide it for you). No public records—because Therapeutic Divorce goes through mediation and not the courtroom, your dirty laundry remains your private matter. The process does not have to be expensive or take a long time. When the love is gone, it is only math. If both sides are ready […] Read More

Misconceptions About Representing Yourself in Domestic Violence Cases

Misconception is when you think you are pregnant, and then you are not.  Misconception is also when you go to an Evidentiary Hearing after a Temporary Injunction for Protection Against Domestic Violence and think you will win because you have a note from your mother saying your ex-boyfriend is violent.  If you think you are saving money by not having an attorney represent you, you could be putting yourself at risk if your ex is violent. You cannot just say, “He hit me.”  You have to have admissible evidence and follow proper procedures in order for the court to act on your claim. In cases of Domestic Violence, you can get a Temporary Injunction separating yourself from a potentially dangerous situation until both parties appear before a judge at a hearing.  That hearing is like a mini-trial.  You can represent yourself in court, but those who do often bring affidavits that are not admissible, or they want to phone a friend.  The hearing is not a game show and it is not Judge Judy. The law is technical, and from a technical standpoint there are things you can mess up that will hurt what you are trying to accomplish.  If […] Read More