Four Good Things About Your Property Tax Bill

Receiving your tax bill is good news…paying it may be a different story.  The good thing (1) about receiving your property tax bill is that it means you are wealthy enough to own real estate.  The other good thing (2) about receiving your tax bill is that it means no one has taken that property from you.  Your property tax bill is the official notice that you still own what you think you own. Did you receive a property tax bill?  If your answer is “No” that could mean one of three things: You do not own real estate. Something is going on with your real estate. Your tax bill is stuck in the mail. Property owners are held to know that the taxes are due and payable annually according to Florida statutes.  That is one of your duties as a homeowner or landowner.  If you did not receive your tax bill (or notice) in November, that is your Constructive Notice that something is going on with the ownership title to your property. Another good thing (3) about your property tax bill is that you have a while to pay it, though it goes up with each month you wait.  […] Read More

Property Rights & Restrictions

We value property rights in Florida.   If there are restrictions on a property, those are part of the property rights and need to be imposed if they are valid.  However, if the restrictions have expired, that means they are no longer valid, and that is also part of the property rights. You cannot arbitrarily apply restrictions, it depends on how, where, and when the restrictions are recorded.  Restrictions can expire, for example, Davis Shores used to have racial restrictions, which have expired. The Marketable Records Title Act (MRTA) is a Florida statute that cleans up property title.  If you have a mortgage over 30 years, that is the marketable record title.  Before the 1960s, you would have to do a title search to the earliest record back to the patent.  Then in the 1960s, the Florida Legislature said that if you have chain of title for 30 years, you have good title…but there may be exceptions and restrictions. When buying or acquiring real estate, or if planning to make changes to your property, check for exceptions and restrictions on the property…and find out if those restrictions are still valid.   Read More

Seeking Child Support

The Florida Department of Revenue enforces child support with an iron fist, and across state lines, there are treaties between states regarding child support.  You will need documentation from the court regarding your case, and you will have to find out the other state’s procedure.  The best approach is to ask, “How do I do this?” (not, “Do this for me.”). “Hey, I need help, what do I need to do to get it?”  That question may get you farther in pursuing a parent who owes child support and has moved to another state. For those who are supposed to pay child support, I recommend that you pay it.  Be up front and honest about your income, and let the court know immediately if something changes in your income.  That benefits you as far as avoiding legal complications, and benefits your child with your financial support. For more information on child support in Florida, visit the Florida Department of Revenue website at http://dor.myflorida.com/dor/childsupport/.   Read More

Mind Your Social Media

Facebook hit a milestone in August with over 1 billion users active in 1 day.  Some of that may prove advantageous by opposing counsel.  What you post publically could be very interesting to an attorney who is trying to build a case against you. Many states consider what you post publically on social media to be for public consumption.  As long as an attorney or attorney’s representative does not try to contact you via social media, their viewing of your post may be considered the same as reading a magazine article written by you.  That may or may not show your best side in a court of law. Even if opposing counsel cannot use material you posted in court, you may give them information that could be disadvantageous to you.   Read More

Contract Outlaw & Construction Liens

What happens if the subcontractors do not get paid?  The statute says that if the homeowner paid the contractor and the contractor does not pay the subs, that is a felony…and the homeowner may find a lien on his house.   To help avoid a contract outlaw and a lien on your house, ask for these documents: Notice of Commencement – A statutory form that notes the intent to begin improvements, the location of the property, and description of the work and the amount of bond (if any) filed before the start of construction or remodeling.  The Notice of Commencement is recorded and a copy is posted at the construction site. Written list of all subcontractors and suppliers who have a contract with the contractor to provide services or materials to your property.  Request this from your contractor via certified or registered mail. Release of Lien – Written statement that removes the homeowner’s property from the threat of lien – get this from the suppliers and subcontractors before you make any payment.  If the contract calls for partial payments before the work is completed, get a Partial Release of Lien that covers services and supplies used up to that point. We […] Read More

Child Support

For those of you who pay child support, I recommend that you pay it.  St. Johns County is an equal opportunity jailer when it comes to paying child support; whereas, in Clay County, it is all men wearing the inmate jumpsuits.  No matter where you live, you may be able to avoid legal complications by paying child support and informing the court immediately if something changes in your income. Your minor children are entitled to a portion of your income.  However, when a change happens in your income, that will impact the family and you have to adjust immediately by filing a petition.  If the parent who has the child most of the time is on State Assistance, the Department of Revenue gets involved and enforces child support with an iron fist. Obligation to pay child support is based on income—that is just a thing called MATH.  Be up front and honest about your income and you may benefit, as well as your child.  For more information on child support in Florida, visit the Florida Department of Revenue website at http://dor.myflorida.com/dor/childsupport/.   Read More

What’s in Your Medicine Cabinet?

Living better through chemistry may also mean dying more comfortably through chemistry, but once you are gone, where do the drugs go?  If you are a Hospice patient, drug and drug paraphernalia disposal is one of Hospice’s services.  Otherwise the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office has a couple of drop box locations. The St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office ‘Operation Medicine Cabinet’ offers safe disposal of drugs and drug paraphernalia.  If you flush drugs down the toilet, you can introduce controlled substances into the water supply, and if you leave them in your medicine cabinet you might support someone else’s addiction or you could get criminally charged with possession.   St. Johns County Sheriff Office Lobby 4015 Lewis Speedway St. Augustine, Florida 32084 Monday through Friday 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.   Julington Creek Annex 725 Flora Branch Blvd. Saint Johns, Florida 32259 Monday through Friday 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.   Read More

Inherent Prejudice

In 1692 the City of St. Augustine turned 127 years old as a continuously occupied settlement of European and African origin.  Meanwhile in Massachusetts, fourteen women, five men, and two dogs were executed for witchcraft in what would become known as the Salem Witch Trials. Inherent prejudice of the legal system exists where you are going to have a trial, but you are going to hang the accused no matter what the outcome of the trial is.  If all you are doing is going through the motions for due process, then that is a problem. When the judicial system works like it is supposed to, everybody follows the same rules, there is a fair chance for both sides to be heard, and a decision is made.  I have had great trials and lost.  On the other hand, inherent prejudice can leave people singed…if not fully barbequed.   Read More

Discovery & Request for Admissions

For Columbus, discovery meant not finding India.  Though North America was not the continent he was aiming for, he did learn something about the other side of the world.  Discovery in the legal sense has a similar purpose. Legal Discovery is a way of learning information about the opposing side of a lawsuit. Furthermore, Request for Admissions is a chance to admit to the truth of certain statements.  If you do not deny them within thirty days, then you automatically admit everything listed.  Those statements become technical admissions. For example, in a Request for Admissions if I stated that your hair was blue and your left foot was nine feet long, and then you failed to respond to the Request within 30 days, then technically your hair is the color of the sky and you need a custom cobbler. While Discovery and Request for Admissions may not be as exciting as an ocean voyage across unknown waters, they are ways to prompt the truth.   Read More

No-No’s of Courtroom Decorum

Courtroom decorum takes over where your mother left off, and creates an environment where tough situations can be debated without distraction.  Sometimes you need that serious atmosphere to move forward through a difficult legal problem.  In keeping with that courtroom decorum, certain items, behavior, and wardrobe choices should be left at home or secured elsewhere. No-No Items Court is not a good place to have a FaceTime conversation with your brother…but that is another story.  Turn your ringer off or leave your cell phone or electronic device in the car. Also do not bring your guns, knives, scissors, and other weaponry. No-No Behavior Do not come to court just to talk non-stop with those sitting around you.  Take your conversation outside if you have to talk. Do not verbally or non-verbally communicate with prisoners in custody. Limit your comings and goings in and out of the courtroom. Eat, sleep, and chew gum elsewhere. No-No Wardrobe Choices Even if it is Dolce & Gabbana, shorts, tee shirts, and flip-flops are not permitted. Milk-soaked business attire is also frowned upon…but that is another story too. Read More