Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Changes in Florida Alimony?

The Sun Sentinel Editorial Board penned an opinion the other day regarding potential changes to Florida alimony laws.  The changes, including one regarding custody, are summarized as follows:

"The two major basic assumptions that would change are: 1) That alimony is forever, and 2) That one parent should be favored over another in custody decisions.

House Bill 455, which has passed major House committee tests, provides formulas the courts would use for deciding how much alimony is due from which spouse and how long it should last. In general, spouses with higher incomes would pay more and a longer marriage would result in longer payments. However, it would be rare for payments to continue longer than 75 percent of the marriage's length.

Meanwhile Senate Bill 250, which also has had committee success, requires judges to presume that a 50-50 custody arrangement for minor children 'is in the best interest of the child.'"

Read the entire editorial here.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Death Penalty in Florida

As reported by the NPR:
The U.S. Supreme Court struck down Florida's death sentencing system as unconstitutional on Tuesday, casting doubt on the status of all the state's death sentences.
 Attorney General Pam Bondi issued the following statement:
 "In light of today's United States Supreme Court decision holding Florida's capital sentencing procedure unconstitutional, the state will need to make changes to its death-sentencing statutes. ... The impact of the Court's ruling on existing death sentences will need to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis."
Read the whole story here

Friday, January 8, 2016

The Way We Practice

The Honorable Judge Anne Kass, a District Judge in the Second Judicial District State of New Mexico, penned an article that sums up what are firm is about.  I'm posting the full article below but you can find the original here:
Good Divorce Lawyers Tell You Bad News

I have heard people who are thinking about getting a divorce say, "I want the meanest, toughest attorney I can find. I want a fighter." I always shudder and say that a fighter is the last thing anyone should want in a lawyer.

Fighter-attorneys may make a client feel good as they harass and humiliate the other spouse, but fighter-attorneys cost tons of money and they always make things worse--for both parties.

So, what are the characteristics of a good lawyer in divorce cases?

First, the hallmark of a good lawyer is that he or she will tell a client things the client does not want to hear. A good lawyer gives clients bad news.

In divorce cases there is always a good deal of bad news to be given.
  • There will not be enough money to maintain the standard of living the family is    used to.
  • Often the family residence will have to be sold.
  • Each parent will spend less time with the children because there will be a second home in which the children will spend time.
  • The children may begin to misbehave or do poorly in school or exhibit other unfortunate problems, which will consume more time, energy and possibly money to pay counselors to try to solve.

The list of bad news goes on and on. The fighter-attorney fails to warn the client--allows, or even encourages, the client to hold on to unrealistic expectations. The good lawyer does not.

Clients sometimes say to a lawyer who tells them what they do not want to hear, "Whose side are you on anyway?" But a good lawyer is on the client's side when they explain reality.

Another sign of good lawyers is that they get along with one another. They are courteous to one another, and they are able to trust one another. They exchange information promptly. They cooperate. Fighter-attorneys do all sorts of stuff to aggravate the other side, which may provide a perverse kind of pleasure while it is happening, but in the end, non-cooperation between lawyers generates enormous legal fees and it increases the bitter feelings between the parties which ultimately damages their lives and the lives of their children. People who hire fighter-attorneys can expect a scorched-earth result. They are often surprised to discover they themselves have to live on that scorched earth.

Divorcing couples are wise to hire lawyers who are peace-makers and problem-solvers. Look for a lawyer who has gone to the trouble of getting mediation training, and watch out for attorneys who do not tell you things you do not want to hear.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Let Us Help You

If you find yourself in a situation that requires legal representation, let us help you.  Our office is prepared to assist you with what ever problem you face.  You will find that our fees are reasonable and based on your ability to pay.  Feel free to call at any time of the day (904) 737-9797.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Florida Supreme Court Removes Judge From Office

The following is a summary of the case In Re Laura Marie Watson:
The Florida Judicial Qualifications Commission (JQC) determined that Laura Marie Watson, a judge of the Seventeenth Judicial Circuit, violated the Rules Regulating Professional Conduct and recommended that she be removed from office due to her actions while a practicing attorney and her demeanor during certain proceedings. The Supreme Court found that the JQC’s findings and conclusions were supported by clear and convincing evidence and that removal was the appropriate sanction, holding that Watson’s conduct in the proceedings at issue was fundamentally inconsistent with the responsibilities of judicial office.
You can read the full case here

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Don't Let the "D" Word Scare You

Being served with "divorce papers" or, more formally, a Petition for Dissolution often comes as a surprise.  Whether or not the separation was anticipated receiving a packet of papers from a process server can be unsettling.  Mr. Bettman and myself are here to help you.  It is what we do. We understand the importance of your present and future well-being.  Our forward-looking representation ensures you receive what you deserve from your time being married, enabling and motivating you to begin your next journey in life.

If you find yourself in the unfamiliar situation of the divorce process give our office a call.  We are available anytime at 737-9797.

Prisoner Wins Claim in the 11th Circuit

In an opinion dated yesterday, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of a prisoner on his claim that he was questioned in violation of his Miranda rights and his lawyer was ineffective for failing to move to suppress the statements he made during that interrogation:

The court held that the state court’s decision that petitioner had waived his ineffective assistance claim by entering a plea was contrary to clearly established federal law, and the court rejected the district court’s alternative reasons for denying petitioner's claim. Petitioner's allegation, if true, would entitle him to habeas relief. Because neither the state habeas court nor the district court afforded petitioner the opportunity to develop the factual basis for this claim, the record before the court is insufficient to properly resolve the petition. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded for the district court to hold an evidentiary hearing and to reconsider petitioner's claim.
You can read the full opinion Arvelo v. Secretary, FL DOC, No. 14-11441 (11th Cir. 2015)

Alimony Reform in Florida

This story is somewhat old but worth read.  The story was originally published on digitaljournal.com

Matthew Brickman Explains Why Alimony Reform In Florida Is Dead

In a surprise twist the Florida alimony reform bill appears dead for 2015. The legislative session ended on May 1st and with it any chance of reviving the bill. Matthew Brickman, family divorce mediator and founder of iMediate Inc explains what happened.

May 28, 2015 / PRZen / WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- A renewed effort to fundamentally change Florida’s alimony system was gaining momentum as The Senate Judiciary Committee initially approved Senate Bill 1248 on an unanimous vote that would end permanent alimony, and determine a formula for the length and amount of alimony while also creating a “50-50” child-sharing arrangement. The bill got a step closer to Gov. Rick Scott’s desk after passing the Appropriations Committee unchanged in a 12-6 vote.

Matthew Brickman of iMediate Inc commented on this in a phone interview by saying, "The reform this year was designed to bring people together on the issue but as negotiations and various drafts of the bills were exchanged, it actually created deep divides."

He went on to say, "Last time the bill was proposed it passed both The House and The Senate, only to be vetoed by the governor. This time around the governor told lawmakers to not to bring back the retroactivity provision and leave out the drama."

Mr. Brickman referenced that he would continue to post updates on the future of alimony reform moving forward. The full video can be seen below.