Choices in Divorce

Well, you picked her, now what are you going to do?  There are choices in divorce just as there are in marriage.  Divorce can be a very long, expensive courtroom drama…but it does not have to be.  You can choose NOT to make it a blood sport, and it does not have to cost a lot or take a long time.  Therapeutic Divorce offers each side an opportunity to negotiate a deal through their own choices instead of following the decisions of a judge. When the love is gone, it is only math. 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, and also does not make public those details.  Because the process goes through mediation and not through the court, the dirty laundry is hampered from public view. In some cases, divorce is necessary, but it does not have to be a Kardashian epic drama.  If both sides are ready to sit down and take the necessary steps to complete […] Read More

Sleeping with the Enemy

Most good legal stories start with a woman.  The first case I ever had started with a woman.  In the Bible, what happens to man?  Woman.  God asks Adam, “Who told you you were naked?”  Eve.  King David?  Bathsheba.  Sampson?  Delilah.  Do not go to an Evidentiary Hearing after a Temporary Injunction unprepared—bring legal representation. In a Temporary Injunction, fifty percent of the time the affidavit against the defendant is lies.  Say the right thing on an affidavit and hubby cannot come home, get his stuff, or even write—it does not matter if he is the homeowner or pays most or all of the rent.  A Temporary Injunction takes the defendant out of the home fast and without warning.  Hubby leaves only with what is on his back as far as personal belongings go. The Evidentiary Hearing is like a mini-trial; both parties appear before a Judge and are subject to the complex details of the law, the rules of court, and the rules of evidence.  You have the absolute right to represent yourself in court, but without legal training and experience, you can unnecessarily change the outcome of the Hearing, sometimes with disastrous results.  If you sleep on your […] Read More

Consenting Adults & Married Couple’s Homestead

It takes two consenting adults to sell the homestead property of a married couple—the husband and the wife—even if only one name is on the deed. Regardless of whether or not your wife’s name is on the deed of your primary residence, she has to give her consent to sell the property.  You cannot sell your house to surprise her with an RV.  You have to get your wife’s permission to sell the house that she lives in. Even if you bought the house before you ever met her, put only your own money into it…your house is roped in when you tie the knot. You also cannot will your homestead to your kids and kick your wife out upon your demise.  You may be married till death do you part, but your wife is not going anywhere you die unless she wants to. 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.  However, upon the dissolution of the marriage, the […] Read More

Legal Aid in Civil Matters

In a criminal case you have a Constitutional Right to an attorney, but what if you are poor, elderly, disabled, and your landlord has locked you out?  The Sixth Amendment does not cover your court cost and appoint legal counsel to assist you for a landlord-tenant dispute.  That is where Legal Aid plays a vital role in providing legal services for civil cases. St. Johns County Legal Aid is a local non-profit agency that primarily serves the most vulnerable demographic of our population—the poor, the elderly, and the disabled—aiding awareness of legal rights and options in matters of debt, foreclosure, housing, elder law, family law, and many other civil subjects.  Their motto is “A Wealth of Justice for Those Who Have Neither.” If you think you cannot afford an attorney in a civil case, contact your local Legal Aid office.  Even if you do not qualify for Legal Aid, they have a lot of pamphlets you may find helpful.  You can visit their office at 222 San Marco Avenue in St. Augustine, or call to make an appointment at (904) 827-9921.  The Legal Aid website is http://www.jaxlegalaid.org/home.html.   Read More

Proper Legal Representation in Domestic Violence Cases

I graduated from Palatka High School and I do not remember domestic violence being part of the curriculum.  Nevertheless, cases involving domestic violence show up in the Putnam County courts, and often unprepared. Putnam County is the poorest county in Florida.  Furthermore, unlike St. Johns County or Duval, Putnam does not have a Legal Aid branch.  Thus Putnam lacks that legal resource for justice for the poor, the elderly, and the disabled.  Cases involving domestic violence are sometimes where a poverty of justice appears. 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 Judge can only call balls and strikes—he or she cannot rule on conjecture. 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.  Do not put yourself in harm’s […] Read More

Quick Question V. Best Answer in Legal Matters

Jack Sprat could eat no fat, his wife could eat no lean, so they decided to get divorced and divide everything in between.  Mrs. Sprat was so tired of cooking to her husband’s dietary specifications, and she wanted to get divorced with as much speed and economic efficiency as possible.  So she downloaded the necessary documents from Jack Rabbit Legal Forms…but then she had a question. No problem at all, Mrs. Sprat thought, and she popped into an attorney’s office one day while she was out shopping.  “Oh, I do not need an appointment,” Mrs. Spratt told the attorney, “because I just have a quick question.” “What are you trying to accomplish?” the attorney replied, and “How successful are you trying to be?” Mrs. Sprat was quite taken aback by the attorney’s questions.  “Why, you do not even know the nature of my business!” she retorted. “Which is why I need to know the nature of your business to give you a full and proper answer,” said the attorney.   The fast answer may not be the best answer to a legal question depending on your circumstances.  Consult competent legal counsel to discuss the details of your case and learn […] Read More

Right to an Attorney

You have a Constitutional right to an attorney in a criminal case, not in a civil case.  That does not mean you should avoid hiring an attorney for cases of home foreclosure, credit card debt, or divorce.  Decisions in a legal conflict can be difficult to make on your own.  Attorneys remove the emotion so their clients can take the necessary steps to move through a legal problem. You may not be able to see every legal angle as effectively as an attorney, plus, you have to follow the rules and procedures of court—if you do not know what the rules and procedures are, you may miss opportunities to present key elements of your case.  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. A lawyer can reframe the situation into business terms to help you look at the possible choices and consequences. The more you know, the less stress you have about the unknown.  Seek competent legal counsel to learn what choices you may have and to review the legal process of your case. If you think you cannot afford an attorney, contact […] Read More

The Three D’s & Our Public Defenders

Attorneys deal in the three D’s—Debt, Death, and Divorce.  Generally those are not happy circumstances and so lawyers enjoy such titles as “weasel” or “shark” or “blood sucking attorney.”  Those terms can make for humorous attorney jokes, and sometimes we deserve some of that reputation.  However, when you are in trouble, whether it is civil or criminal, you want the best weasel or shark or blood sucking attorney you can find to obtain the best result possible under the circumstances.  Our Public Defenders are not the least of these. Legal Counsel is so necessary in a criminal case that if a defendant cannot afford counsel, the State provides counsel without fee.  Contrary to what some people believe, attorneys working in the Public Defenders office are not attorneys who received bad grades in law school or could not find jobs elsewhere.  They are some of the best public servants we have.  They cannot pick and chose their cases.  They take all qualified applicants regardless of the charge or defendant.  They are also in Court working criminal cases with the State Attorney’s office almost every day.   Read More

How Much Does a Divorce Cost?

You know why divorces cost so much?  Because they are worth it!  (The humor of this joke depends on your circumstances, just as the length and cost of a divorce does.) A divorce can cost roughly $500 to $5,000 depending on your attorney, amicability, and how well prepared you are.  It can be done cheap and fast.  If both sides are ready to sit down and take the necessary steps to complete the procedure, then it can be over and done within about a month.  Furthermore, Florida is a no-fault state, meaning you can get divorced if you just say the marriage is irretrievably broken. Once the love is gone, it’s only math, and lawyers can help you get through the long division.  In a personal situation, you may need separation from the emotional aspect in order to proceed with the “business” of divorce.  Lawyers remove emotion so that a problem can be resolved. Divorce is sometimes necessary; however, you can leave the courtroom drama to television, and leave the big budget production to a film crew.  Seek competent legal counsel to discuss your circumstances and your divorce options.   Read More

Not ‘As Seen on TV’

Representing yourself is easy…as long as there is a script and a producer.  A real court; however, is NOT ‘as seen on TV.’  It is not the Jerry Springer Show or Judge Judy, and a real court case can take longer than the 43 minutes of a TV episode. Do-it-yourself is great for raising a Chia pet, but in a legal matter, you can go in there, mess up the presentation of your case, and put yourself in a position where no one is able to fix it.  Res Judicata means that when a case is decided, it is decided (an attorney cannot help you after final judgment).  Online legal forms may save you attorney fees…and cost you your case. The more you know, the less stress you have about the unknown.  Seek competent legal counsel to learn what choices you may have and to review the legal process of your case. If you think you cannot afford an attorney, contact your local Legal Aid office.  Even if you do not qualify for Legal Aid, they have a lot of pamphlets you may find helpful.  The Legal Aid website is http://www.jaxlegalaid.org/stjohns.html.   Read More