Mediation Instead of Trial

In Mediation, you do not get as much of a winner and a loser, but you do get to settle the matter.  Depending on your circumstances and your goals, Mediation may be the right thing for you. A trial is going to result in a winner and a loser, and a judge is going to decide which is which.  In Mediation, however, you have the opportunity to sit down with the other side and hammer out a deal.  Then once the deal is made, it is made, and you have settled the issue.  It gives both sides more control over the outcome. There are a number of civil law matters where Mediation can be used, such as divorce.  Seek competent legal counsel to determine if Mediation is an option in your case, and if it would be beneficial to you.   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

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

Do-It-Yourself Divorce

The Florida Supreme Court has do-it-yourself divorce forms available online, but that may not be in your best interest.  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. 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 show up with 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. Divorce is not rocket science, but it is not basket weaving either.  Do not put yourself in harm’s way by making an ignorant mistake in court.  Competent legal counsel can properly represent your case…and also take the emotion out of the situation so you can move forward through the process. Read More

Mediation & Horsemeat – Dividing the Leftovers

You can beat a dead horse…it just is not going anywhere. Do you want a Judge to decide what to do with the meat of the matter, or would you rather decide yourselves what to do with the carcass of a bad situation?  Sometimes mediation is an option…sometimes it is not a bad option. The Judge may tell you to grind up the meat and feed it to your children as part of child support (though probably not).  You do not know what a Judge will do, neither do you have control over their decision.  You may prefer mediation instead where you and your opponent could decide to sell the meat for dog chow and use the money from the sale to buy food for your children. The nice thing about mediation, especially in divorce, is that it is up to you and your soon-to-be-ex-spouse to shape the outcome.  Generally it is easier to live with an agreement you create, rather than trying to follow someone else’s order.  Mediation gives you more control over your future. Read More