Friday, November 16, 2012

Can You file suit for Alienation of Affection in Florida

Alienation of affection(s) is a legal action, a tort based on willful and malicious interference with marriage relations by a third party. The elements constituting the cause of action are wrongful conduct of the defendant, plaintiff's loss of affection or consortium of spouse, and a causal connection between the two. Not all states recognize the right to bring an alienation of affections action. It is usually viewed as not being relevant or easily applied in modern society.

Legislation was enacted in Florida to abolish the right to bring an alienation of affection lawsuit.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

At what age does Florida allow children to stay alone?

Florida does not have a stead fast rule regarding the age that children can stay home alone. Instead the Department of Children's and Families does offer guidance to parents at the criteria they need to consider prior to allowing there children to stay home alone. Because children mature at different rates, there is no single, pre-set age at which children are considered “old enough” to stay home by themselves for short periods. Parents must evaluate their child’s individual development and physical capabilities.
Is my child comfortable, confident and willing to stay home alone?
Does my child consistently follow my rules and guidelines?
Has my child demonstrated good independent judgment and problem-solving skills in the past?
Is my child able to stay calm and not panic when confronted with unexpected events?
Have I brainstormed with my child about what unexpected situations could possibly come up while he or she is alone, and how to handle them?
Is my child consistently truthful with me? Does he or she readily come to me with problems and concerns?
Does my child understand the importance of safety and know basic safety procedures?
Will my child make decisions to stay safe, even at the risk of seeming rude or overly cautious to other children or adults?
Does my child have the ability to calmly provide his/her name, address, phone number and directions to our home in an emergency?
Can my child lock and unlock the doors and windows of our home?
Can my child tell time?
Is my child able to work independently on homework?
Have my child and I established a clearly structured routine for when he or she is home alone, with defined responsibilities and privileges?
If I have more than one child staying home, have the children demonstrated the ability to get along well and solve conflicts without physical fighting or adult intervention?
Have my child and I had some “dry runs” to allow him or her to practice self-care skills while I am at home, but purposefully “not available”?
Is our neighborhood safe?
Do we have neighbors that my child and I know and trust?
After reviewing this list of questions, you’ll have a better idea of how ready your child is to stay home alone. These are only general guidelines. Parents and other caregivers must also consider other factors specific to their individual child and family circumstances in order to make the best decision.
Parents and caregivers should begin leaving children home alone progressively—for only a short time, at first, and stay relatively close to home.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

How Child Support is Determined in Florida

Child support is a substantial commitment. Under Florida law, child support payments are intended to be used for your child's portion of expenses such as rent, electricity, food, transportation, and his or her hobbies/entertainment.   Determining the appropriate child support payment amount and method can seem daunting, but having a good understanding of the process is invaluable.

Child support obligations under Florida Law

Both parents have a monthly child support obligation.  If the child lives with his or her mom, then the child's dad sends his monthly contribution to mom so she can add it to her contribution and use the combined monthly total to pay the child's hobby/entertainment expenses and portion of the household bills.  Child support obligations are determined by a three-step process.

How child support is determined in Florida

1. Both parents' income, before expenses, are added together to get a combined income.  For example, if both parents make close to minimum wage and dad's income is $1,290 per month and mom's income is $1,060 per month, the combined income is $2,350.
2. Each parent's proportion of the combined income is calculated.  In this example, dad's income is 55 percent of the combined income.  Mom's income is 45 percent of the combined income.
3. Each parent is assessed a child support obligation proportionate to his or her percentage of the combined income.  The Florida legislature has a child support guidelines chart, which provides a predetermined basic monthly child support amount based on the parents' combined income.  For the purposes of the example, the chart indicates the basic child support obligation for a combined income of $2,350 is $515 per month.  Dad would be responsible for 55 percent of the $515, or $283.25 per month.  Mom would be responsible for 45 percent of the $515, or $231.75 per month. 

How the child support payments will be made

Once the court has calculated the child support, the court will decide to whom and how the payments will be made.  The court can order that the child support payments be made directly to the parent with whom the child lives.  If child support payments are made directly, the parents are responsible for keeping accurate records indicating how much and when each payment is made.  Alternatively, the court can order child support payments to be made to the state disbursement unit, where it is collected, recorded, and disbursed.  The court can order that the child support be paid voluntarily or by an automatic deduction from each paycheck. 

Allowable child support deductions

Parents are not allowed to stipulate to a lower child support payment.  Only a court order can create or change a child support obligation.  However, child support payments can be reduced or increased depending on the proper application of allowable deductions.  What constitutes an allowable deduction has been the subject of much controversy and subsequent litigation.  Some allowable deductions include the following:
  • Health insurance premiums
  • Mandatory retirement payments
  • Other child support payments
  • Alimony
  • Union dues
  • Uniform expenses
An experienced family law attorney will know the most current allowable deductions.  

If you fail to make timely child support payments

If you fail to make timely child support payments, you can be held in contempt of court.  The court has several tools to encourage parents to pay child support.  It can suspend privileges such as the privilege to drive, operate a business, or travel abroad.  If you fall behind in child support, the court can order you to sell almost anything you have of value.  Additionally, parents who owe overdue child support must use any income tax returns towards their child support balance.  Moreover, if the court determines the late-paying parent has money or valuables and is not paying off the child support debt, the court can have him or her put in jail for 5 months and 29 days. 

If you need help

If you are concerned that your child support payments haven't been accuratel

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Repost from Ann Shaw, having a attorney is still a good idea

The Store Bought Will Or, How to Save Now and Pay Later

By Ann Shaw, Attorney at Law
I recently received a request from an out of state client to handle his deceased uncle’s estate. Uncle had passed away in a nursing home in St. Pete, and the estate qualified for "Summary Administration" under Florida law.
The nephew sent me his uncle’s will for filing in the Probate Court. The will certainly looked official, with "Last Will and Testament" printed in large letters on top, and with the Uncle’s signature and three witness signatures, all notarized, at the bottom. The will was not prepared by an attorney, however, and that caused unnecessary expense in the end.
The problem was, the will was not "self proving." A "self proving" will is properly acknowledged by the testator and witnesses before an officer authorized to administer oaths (usually a notary public). A self-proving will may be admitted to probate without testimony of the attesting witnesses. Although a notary signed and stamped the will signatures, the required language acknowledging that the testator had declared that he was signing his will, and that the witnesses signed in the testator’s presence, was missing.
When a will is not self-proving, testimony from a witness to the will is required. That meant that I had to hunt down one of the witnesses and bring them before a circuit court judge, or court-appointed commissioner, or clerk or deputy clerk of the circuit court. The expense involved in doing this more than offset the "bargain" that Uncle got by having a non-attorney (of course the preparer didn’t sign their name) prepare his will, and added to the time required to probate the estate. Fortunately, the witnesses were still in the area. If none of the witnesses were available, further procedures would have been required.
The moral of the story is, have your estate plan prepared by an attorney. Saving a few dollars now may mean that your heirs have to spend many more dollars later.

Monday, April 9, 2012

The Importance of Last Will and Testament ( taken from Law Depot)

Despite recognizing the importance of having a Last Will and Testament, as many as two-thirds of adult Americans don’t have one. The reasons for this range from simple laziness to discomfort at the thought of one’s own death. For many, thinking about their own death makes the concept real. As long as they can avoid thinking about it, they can ignore the inevitable.

Unfortunately, failing to plan for one’s death won’t prevent it from happening. Because of that, it is important to write a Last Will and Testament.

Every Adult Needs a Will

While people often think that only the elderly need to have a will, it is advisable for adults of all ages to have one. It is especially important for parents of minor children, even if they don’t have significant assets. Without a will, the government decides who will become your children’s guardian. In order to have a say in who will care for your children—should you die before they reach adulthood—you must draft a Last Will and Testament to state your wishes.
Even adults without families can benefit from having a Last Will and Testament. You have worked hard to earn what you have—your home, your car, your bank account—shouldn’t you have a say in how it will be distributed in the event of your death? Without a will, your wishes will be irrelevant, and the state will decide how to distribute your estate. Precious heirlooms, that you may wish to give to a friend upon your death, will instead be sold at auction and the money will go to the government. In order to make sure that your estate is handled according to your wishes, and that your money is given to a friend, charity, or other organization of your choice, you must draft a will.
According to the United Way, 60% of Americans die without a Last Will and Testament, leaving the government to decide how to divide their estate. If you want to have the final decision about how your estate is distributed after you pass on, a Last Will and Testament is a vital document.

Keep Your Will Up-to-Date

Once you’ve drafted the will, it’s also important to keep it up-to-date. If you have a new child after you draft your will, you must update the will to include that child, even if you wish to state that the child will receive no part of your estate. In most jurisdictions, if you don’t name all of your heirs, they or their legal guardian(s) will have the right to contest your will.
James Brown—the Godfather of Soul—had his will contested in early 2007 because it failed to name the late singer’s youngest son, James Jr, and his widow Tami Rae Hynie (though, there was considerable controversy surrounding the legitimacy of Hynie’s marriage to Brown).
Brown’s will appears not to have been updated since the birth of James Brown Jr, so it is unclear whether the omission was intentional or not. The singer’s intention, however, is irrelevant. Having failed to name one of his heirs meant that Brown’s will was open to contest, highlighting a situation that can happen to anyone’s estate, should they fail to update their will after major life events such as marriage or the birth of a child.
In order to make sure that your will is up-to-date, you should review your will after the following events:
  • You get married or divorced (a change in marital status may void your will);
  • You are unmarried, but have a new partner;
  • The amount of money and/or property you own changes significantly;
  • You move to another jurisdiction (some states do not recognize out-of-state wills as valid);
  • Your executor or a significant beneficiary in your will dies;
  • There is a birth or adoption of a child in your family;
  • You change your mind about the provisions in your will.

No Excuse

While the legal fees associated with hiring a lawyer to draft a will are a deterrent for many Americans, the number of inexpensive, do-it-yourself options that are available eliminates this obstacle. It is now quick and easy for anyone to write their own Last Will and Testament.
Given the number of easy-to-use, low-cost alternatives to hiring a lawyer to draw up a will, there is simply no excuse not to plan for the inevitable. As uncomfortable as it may be to think about it, we are all going to die. By drafting a Last Will and Testament, you ensure that your family is taken care of, and that your estate is handled according to your wishes—not the will of the government.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Common Landlord Mistakes

Foreclosure filings are on the rise and more and more people are purchasing these properties and using them as rentals. With the occurrence landlords and tenant relationships are on the rise. There are several mistakes that residential landlords tend to make, first make sure you have a well written lease. Leases they sale at the office supply stores or online are cookie cutter leases and may not meet the needs or concerns you have with renting your property. Second ask for references you will renting to someone you don't know and therefore you want to provide references so you can discern whether or not they will be good tenants. Third make sure you keep the security deposit in a separate account. It doesn't matter whether it's interest or non interest bearing the money must be kept separate from your own.  Fourth you will want to take lots of detailed pictures of the property before renting it out and more pictures after the tenant leaves. These pictures are worth there weight in gold if the property becomes damaged. And lastly you may want to consult with an attorney,  a good  attorney can help you prepare for your role as a landlord and avoid making costly mistakes.

If you need more information check out the link below:

This blog does not constitute legal advice if you want legal advice you should contact a lawyer licensed by the bar of your resident state.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Why do lawyers use ESQ. and what does it mean?

Although this not a legal question it is one that comes up often so I decided to address it in my blog.
Esquire (abbreviated Esq.) originally was a social rank title above that of mere gentleman, allowed, for example, to the sons of the nobles and the gentry who did not possess any other title. On this basis, a gentleman was designated Mr ('mister' before his name), whereas an Esquire was designated 'Esq.' (without a nominal prefix) after his name. A very late example of this distinction is in the list of subscribers to The History of Elton, by the Rev. Rose Fuller Whistler, published in 1882, which clearly distinguishes between subscribers designated "Mr" and those designated "Esquire" — of higher social position; though old-fashioned, "Esq." remains widely used in upper-class circles.

In the United States, there are no native titled gentry or nobility. The suffix "Esq." has no legal meaning (except in some states), and may, in theory, be adopted by anyone, (given its meaning, any man). In practice, it is used almost exclusively by lawyers (of both sexes), and so it generally may be assumed that, when "Esq." appears on business cards or stationery, the man or woman so identified is a member of the bar.

That "esquire" may be used to indicate that an individual is a lawyer is a remnant of the British practice, in which barristers claimed the status "Esquire" and solicitors used the term "Gentleman". In the United States, though a lawyer may choose to specialize in litigation or other types of law, there are no licensing or bar membership distinctions between the equivalent roles of barrister and solicitor.