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February 2013 Archives

GPS devices may improve domestic violence situation in Orlando

The ending of a marriage can bring many problems, including physical abuse due to escalations of arguments or high emotions. Unfortunately, domestic violence is a very real issue that many people have experienced firsthand. Physical abuse and emotional abuse can often lead to tragic results.

OCBA's 9 Annual Poker Tournament Fund Raiser

Camy B. Schwam-Wilcox, Esq. is the chair of the OCBA Foundation's 9 Annual Poker Tournament. This is a OCBA Fund Raiser, which is going to be held on 3/14 at 5:30 pm at One Eyed Jacks. Contact Camy at camy@cbswlaw.com for more information. The seating is limited and the OCBA Fund Raiser is a very popular event, so get your tickets NOW... $25 to play and $15 to watch. There will be complimentary food and beer while it lasts, and happy hour will be extended to 8:00 pm. There will be a 50/50 raffle and a losers lounge for a $10 buy in. Test out your Texas Hold 'Em skills. (you do not have to be an attorney to attend).

Time Sharing vs. Custody: What does this mean?

Florida has abolished the term "child custody" from the statues and there is no longer a designation of primary and secondary parents. This change in the law is not new; however, the term "custody" is so embedded in parents' minds, that when they are going through a divorce, that is all they have heard of. Many parents state "I want full custody", and technically, in Florida, that term means absolutely nothing. Time sharing is how many overnights the children spend with each parent. Time sharing is different from Shared or Sole parental responsibility. Parental responsibility is the decision making rights parent have over their children. Florida favors shared parental responsibility for children, as parents do have equal constitutional rights to rear their children. Yes, this even goes for unmarried Fathers who have been adjudicated by a court to be the Legal Father (being on the birth certificate alone is not enough).

OCBA's Family Law Section

Camy B. Schwam-Wilcox, Esq., who is the Chair of the Family Law Section of the OCBA will have the Honorable Judge Lubet, and his Judicial Assistant present on the do's and don'ts in his Courtroom. Judge Lubet is currently on the Domestic Violence Injunction bench hearing Injunction cases, and companion dissolution cases. Judge Lubet comes to the domestic bench from the criminal bench, and was a local practitioner for over twenty (20) years before taking the bench.

Mediation and Arbitration: alternatives to Judicial Intervention

The alternatives to Judicial Intervention is Mediation or Arbitration. In the Florida Court system there are several avenues to resolve disputes, whether through court litigation or Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). Mediation is one way to solve disputes through Alternative Dispute Resolution. Mediation is the act of resolving a dispute between two people through communicatory negotiations with a third party involved throughout the process. The third party who facilitates the process of solving the dispute is called the Mediator. This person usually has an expertise in law, interpersonal psychology, or negotiation and will have a certificate in mediation (classes, trainings, and observations are required to obtain your certification).

Newly created commission hears domestic abuse survivor speak

Not all domestic problems lead to violence; however, when they do, the results can be serious and have legal ramifications. When domestic violence leads to death or serious injury to the victim, charges may be pressed. The harm, however, has already been done. In an effort to prevent such injury, one area in central Florida is seeking to reduce the violent end that many victims face, a recent development that Orlando domestic violence survivors should take note of.

Equitable Distribution

In marriage there may be several assets and liabilities from both sides. These assets and liabilities are distinguished form pre-marital, marital, and non-marital to decipher who gets what in a divorce or known in Florida as a Dissolution of Marriage. When a couple goes through a divorce the division of assets and liabilities can be difficult. In Florida we use the rule of equitable distribution (which means 'fair" not necessarily equal, but usually equal is where the analysis will begin) where all marital assets and marital liabilities are divided equitably. Again, this does not mean assets and liabilities are split 50/50, more on the lines of what is fair to each side. A pre-marital asset or liability means this is an asset or liability that one party had PRIOR to the marriage. So whatever you come into the marriage with, as long is it is not co-mingled (mixed together; i.e. bank accounts, refinancing of a home with the other spouse's name being added to the title, etc) this is what you should leave with before the marital and non-marital assets are even dealt with by the Court. A non-marital asset or liability is property acquired during the marriage, but somehow not co-mingled (an inheritance, or monies received after the execution of a post nuptial or prenuptial agreement, etc.). More specifically, if you received an inheritance fund in the stock market for years before your first marriage and you add money from both you and your spouse's income or put your spouse's name on the account, then the account may be considered a marital asset, and now subject to equitable distribution in a divorce. Any asset gained or liability incurred during a marriage with the use of marital funds or marital labor is subject to equitable distribution. Examples could be savings accounts, 401K accounts, vacation homes, credit cards, mortgages, automobiles, automobile loans, etc. Real estate property can be difficult to distribute fairly, one party may either buyout the other to take ownership of the property or they may sell the property and divide the money equitably. When going through a divorce the stress incurred by resolving these ownership disputes can be insurmountable; however, when hiring a divorce/family law attorney these disputes can be resolved with fluidity and less stress incurred on the parties. Before you enter into an agreement that may be binding on you and non-modifiable (you cannot change it later, usually property distributions are not modifiable), you need to know your rights, an attorney can give you the knowledge you need, and the knowledge you obtain is the power you want in the dissolution of a marriage. Visit our website page (www.cbswlaw.com) on Equitable distribution for more information, or call our office (407-245-7700) to set an appointment to speak to one of our qualified attorneys.

Police investigate shooting, domestic fight

Many families in Florida experience domestic problems. These disputes may escalate and can lead to domestic violence. Even threats of domestic violence can result in serious repercussions for an individual accused of making them. Cases of domestic violence are often difficult for all those involved. Readers may find a recent domestic dispute in Florida to be of interest.

What should your Divorce attorney "DO" and "NOT DO".

Going through a divorce often leaves people angry, in grief and filled with mixed emotions. It is a time of intense stress. Clients look to their attorney for answers, to fix the problems or punish the other party for hurtful conduct. Studies have shown that people going through high stress will have "brain chatter" which affects their ability to think clearly and rationally.

Who Owns What in Marital Property?

Who owns what property in a marriage, after divorce, or after a spouse's death depends on whether the couple lives in a common law property state or a community property state. During marriage, these classifications may seem trivial, but in the unfortunate events of divorce or death, these details become very important.

How will my Tax Refund Affect my ability to file Bankruptcy?

This is the time of year that people are waiting for their tax refund, and they want to pay their bills, but that may not be the best use of your tax refund money if bankruptcy is in your near future. If you have weighed all of your financial options, and have realized that you may need to file bankruptcy you should speak to an attorney before you use your tax refund check on bills that may be discharged anyway, thus the refund check could be properly used to finance your bankruptcy case. There are certain liabilities that may be paid for with your tax refund, and one of them is the payment of an attorney to assist you with your bankruptcy (there are other). What we see quite often is a person will try to pay off their credit card debt, medical bills, etc., with their refund, and they have just taken exempt funds and turned them into non-exempt funds and they lose the benefit of the refund...do not let this be you, see an attorney BEFORE you use your refund to determine what is and what is not permissible. Read more about bankruptcy (chapter 7 and 13) on our bankruptcy pages on our website. www.cbswlaw.com

Guardian Ad Litem (GAL)

Family Law Attorney's Camy B. Schwam-Wilcox, Esquire and Jessica D. Thomas, Esquire are Pro Bono Guardian Ad Litems (GAL) with Orange County Legal Aid. A guardian ad litem ("GAL") is a responsible caring adult volunteer, appointed by a judge to advocate for the best interest of a child suspected to be a victim of parental abuse, neglect or abandonment. Orange County attorneys, on an individual basis, have been providing Guardian ad Litem (GAL) services since the early 1970s. Then, in 1978, when the State of Florida mandated the appointment of Guardians ad Litem for children in all cases of abuse or neglect, state wide efforts were initiated to develop a formal GAL Program. The State of Florida proposed a model program that placed a lay person in the GAL position. That model was accepted and is currently utilized throughout the state of Florida, except in Orange County. To learn more about how you can support Orange County Legal Aid visit http://www.legalaidocba.org/guardian-ad-litem.

Orange County hopes to test GPS in domestic violence cases

Victims of domestic violence often live in fear of their aggressors. This can lead to additional emotional distress on top of the physical effects of domestic violence abuse. For victims in Orange County, more help may soon be available.

Emergency Hearings in Orange County

Emergency Hearings can be complicated. Every person's definition of an emergency is different; especially if it involves children of divorcing parents (or separating parents if not married). It is very difficult for an attorney to advise a client of what a Judge will or will not deem to be an emergency and they still want to file pleadings as an emergency. Young lawyers need to remember that you are the person that knows the do's and don'ts of the Judges, and if you know that your clients issue will not be deemed an emergency, you should not jeopardize your reputation and file an Emergency Hearing anyway. YES, you take an oath to zealously represent your client, and you should do so, but you must morally and ethically follow the local rules, administrative rules and your individual Judges procedures. It does not help your client to file a motion on an issue that is not deemed to be an emergency. You waste your time, your clients money and their expectations become harder for you to please as their counselor. Time sharing issues, yes EVEN if it is Christmas, it is not an emergency. Fleeing the country to your spouses "home" country with the actual fear that they may not return, is a true emergency. It is important to know your Judge, and we offer you this opportunity by attending the OCBA Family Law Section's lunch time series of Get to Know your Judges. The next presentation is by the Honorable Judge Bob LeBlanc and it will be at the OCBA Center on February 15, 2013 at noon. This is a brown bag lunch and CLE will be given for the attendees. I hope to see you there to learn not only about what Judge LeBlanc considers an emergency, but other issues in his courtroom. For more information go to www.cbswlaw.com

Justice Teaching

Jessica D. Thomas, Esquire is a volunteer through Justice Teaching. Justice Teaching, was an initiative of then Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice R. Fred Lewis. The ultimate goal of this program is to educate students by pairing a legal professional with every elementary, middle, and high school in the state of Florida. The program "Justice Teaching" aims to educate students in the following ways: promote an understanding of Florida's justice system and our laws, develop critical thinking abilities and problem solving skills, and demonstrate the effective interaction of our courts within the constitutional structure. She was recently recognized for her work at a local elementary school during a county wide Teach-In day. To learn more about how you can support Justice Teaching visit http://www.justiceteaching.org/.