Attorneys (especially those that practice in Family Law, Landlord-Tenant and Small Claims) generally offer free consultations. We know this because up and down every single webpage you have searched, you will see the words “free consultation” appear on an attorney's website. But have you really thought about what that means? What is so special about a free consultation and what do you get out of it? Are you receiving legal advice? Is it simply an opportunity for the attorney to give you a quote of his or her fees? Are they rushing you out of his/her office? Or is it something different altogether?
The answer to these questions depends on which of the attorneys you consult. Let me take you through what many lawyers offer in their free consultation. You may be surprised to learn that sometimes you won’t even speak to an actual attorney. Instead, some divorce attorneys have their secretaries or paralegals (which isn’t much better) take the new client consultation and, even though it is unlawful, have that secretary or paralegal give legal advice. So, what do you get from most lawyers?
- - You contact them for help
- - They immediately ask you about your financial ability to pay their fees
- - You can either pay their fees or you can’t
- -They set an appointment for you to come into the office if you can afford their attorney’s fees
- -At the in-person consultation, they spend a few minutes with you talking about their fees and asking you to sign a retainer agreement.
What exactly did you get out of that “free consultation”. Did you get helpful tips related to your family law case? Did you get direction? Someone to listen to your questions and concerns and answer them? Or did you simply learn what that attorney charges for every case, including yours, and were given a quote?
We treat your initial consultation differently than the far majority of our colleagues because it’s not really a consultation – it’s a strategy session. We charge a reasonable and affordable fee but here is what you can expect from it:
- When you call, I will immediately set an appointment for you to see one of our family law attorneys.
- The fee for the strategy session varies depending on the issues. It can be as low as $25.00 to $100.00 for 60 minutes.
- During the appointment, the I will obtain information regarding (assuming it's a Family Law inquiry) your marriage, separation, your financial issues in the divorce case including child support, alimony and equitable distribution, whether you have a case pending or anticipating to file.
- I will then ask you about your goals, questions and concerns that you have. I won’t rush you, as I like to take my time going through these issues with you.
- I will then ask you questions about any concerns we have concerning your pending or anticipated filing.
- Only then will I begin to discuss not just what your fees may be but also what your budget should be for a case like yours. I am not a cookie-cutter lawyer. I will also discuss whether an attorney fee motion is appropriate in your case.
- If you are ready to retain right then and there, I will start the paperwork. If you need time to think about it, no problem. Either way, once you retain me, I will usually apply the consultation fee you paid toward your retainer. For example, let’s say the fee was $100.00. Let’s also say the retainer to start on your case was $750.00. You don’t pay $750.00. You pay $650.00.
Although legal residence and domicile both refer to the place where a person has a fixed abode with a present intent of making it his or her permanent home, residence is an objective fact while domicile places the emphasis on intent. A party may intend to make Florida his or her domicile and residence, but the party has no Florida residence if he or she does not have the requisite presence in Florida for six months before filing. [Fla Stat Section 61.021; McCarthy v. Alexander, 786 So 2d 1284 (Fla 2d DCA 2001) (trial court properly dismissed wife's petition for dissolution of marriage for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction where wife had not been present in Florida for six months before filing).]
A marital settlement agreement is essentially a contract. In order to have a legally enforceable contract, you must have the following four present: Offer, Acceptance, Consideration & no valid defenses. Usually, a challenge to or effort to change such agreements are subject to contract law. As a result of it being a contract, the agreement can usually be changed by agreement of the parties. If there is no agreement present, it can be difficult to change.
The one complaint I hear from tenants that call in looking for legal advice, is the landlord's wrongful withholding of their security deposit. Most landlords hope you don't give them the required notice per Florida Statutes (depending on your tenancy), whereby they will attempt to withhold your deposit. Here are some things you can do to ensure you are not a victim:
This is a notice of my intention to impose a claim for damages in the amount of upon your security deposit, due to . It is sent to you as required by s. 83.49(3), Florida Statutes. You are hereby notified that you must object in writing to this deduction from your security deposit within 15 days from the time you receive this notice or I will be authorized to deduct my claim from your security deposit. Your objection must be sent to (landlord’s address) .
If the landlord fails to give the required notice within the 30-day period, he or she forfeits the right to impose a claim upon the security deposit and may not seek a setoff against the deposit but may file an action for damages after return of the deposit.
While we do not practice adoption law, nevertheless, this is an important topic that will have a major affect on adoption proceedings moving forward.
According to police, they believe that the murder of Florida Jewish law professor Dan Markel was sparked by a bitter divorce battle with his ex-wife. Authorities arrested a man with a long criminal history, Sigfredo Garcia, 34, in connection with Markel's 2014 killing. Garcia's attorney had said that his client is innocent. New details released in court on June 2nd, show that investigators believe Markel's death was connected to his acrimonious divorce with law professor Wendi Adelson, even though the police were careful to avoid calling her a suspect. Police believe that the motive for the murder stemmed from Adelson's family's "desperate desire" to move the estranged couple's children hundreds to miles away to South Florida. In addition, Markel had filed court documents complaining that Adelson's mother had disparaged him to their children, and asking that she not be alone with her grandchildren. A hearing on that motion was pending at the time of Markel's murder. There is also a police affidavit present, stating that Charles Anderson was "involved in a personal relationship" with Garcia's girlfriend. DeLeo said at the press conference that Rivera is a suspect in the case, and is currently in federal custody on unrelated charges.
Three women that have children with New York Giants cornerback Janoris Jenkins, are looking to have their child-support payments modified upward, according to multiple reports. Jenkins has five children with four different women and recently, signed a five-year $62.5 million dollar deal with $28 million guaranteed after his first four seasons playing for the St. Louis Rams. One of his exes, Sontaevia Armstrong has filed court documents in Florida requesting Jenkins to pay for her and their two children to live in a "man-guarded and gated community," as well as "pay for private school, healthcare and security for her and the kids."In addition, according to multiple reports, La'Tasha Jones and Lakenya Campbell have also filed court documents seeking increased child support and benefits, otherwise known as a "Supplemental Petition for Modification of Child-Support." Furthermore, Campbell is requesting that the court deviate from the child support guidelines "5%," as a result upon Father's failure to spend any time with the child." In order for a child support Order to be modified, it must be proven that there has been a "Substantial change in circumstances since entry of the original Order, and that it's material and was not anticipated at the time of rendering the original order." Also, if based on the revised incomes of both parties, results in the child support amount changing by at least 15% or $50, then that is also grounds for the parties' child support payments to be modified.
The Road to an Amicable Divorce
If you are facing divorce and you have heard horror stories of how destructive it can be for families, it is important to understand that you and your spouse have the power to have an amicable divorce. Consider the following pieces of advice:
Be united on matters involving children
Custody issues are typically the most stressful and emotional parts of a divorce. Deciding where the children should live and how much parenting time each parent gets can be difficult, especially when a custody decision also has financial consequences in the form of child support.
If you and your spouse can agree that a custody battle is harmful to your children and agree to work together, your kids will likely fare much better. You were able to work together as a team while you were married, so continue those same efforts.
Leave girlfriends and boyfriends out of it
If you and your spouse are dating other people, don’t let them play a part in your divorce. Their involvement will only increase the tension and hurt feelings. They may be a part of your future, but it is not fair to your spouse to allow an outsider to play a role in your divorce.
Mediate sooner than later
If you and your spouse can enter your divorce with the goal of mediating and settling the issues between you, it will put you in the right frame of mind to accomplish your goal of an amicable divorce. It is important to inform your attorney that you want to mediate and settle your divorce. You can even start the mediation process before the divorce action is filed. Settling your divorce is not only better for your children, but it typically will save you a substantial amount of money.
Play nice and be honest
You should never attempt to hide assets or default on bills. This is not a way to “punish” your spouse because it only harms everyone involved. If you take actions attempting to make your spouse pay or otherwise damage her, it will only make your divorce last longer and be more expensive.
Our office is located in St. Petersburg, Florida.
When Should I Contact a Divorce Attorney?
Many individuals wait too long before contacting a family law attorney to help them. If you and your spouse cannot agree on important issues surrounding your divorce, the sooner you get advice and guidance from legal counsel, the more likely you will obtain a positive result.
The following are a few examples of when it is imperative to contact your divorce attorney:
Your spouse has filed divorce papers
If your spouse has already retained a lawyer, filed divorce pleadings and had you served, she has been thinking about and planning for divorce for some time. Whether you are shocked or you expected it, the only way to catch-up and protect your rights is to contact us immediately. If you fail to timely respond to the divorce petition, it could result in a default judgment against you.
You’re the victim of domestic abuse
If your spouse is abusive, let us help you take legal action to get the protection you need. You should call the police if you are in immediate danger or fear for your safety. Once you and your children are in a safe place, we can explain your options including filing for divorce, obtaining a protection order, and/or a child custody action.
Moving with the children
If you or your spouse wants to relocate with your children, it can be a highly emotional and contentious matter. Whether you want to move or your spouse is trying to move, we can help you with the relocation process.
Modification of child support payments
If your income (or your ex-spouse’s income) undergoes a significant change and you can no longer afford your child support payments, we can help you seek a modification of the order.
Our office is located in St. Petersburg, Florida and we offer free consultations.
WHAT IS A COLLABORATIVE DIVORCE?
BENEFITS OF COLLABORATIVE DIVORCE
HIRE A ST. PETERSBURG COLLABORATIVE DIVORCE LAWYER TODAY!
A lawyer for property management groups and landlords
For nearly three years, Jerome Williams has been representing the interests of landlords and property management firms throughout Pinellas County, Florida (St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Largo, etc.) including Tampa. His clients have come to know him as a meticulous provider of legal solutions for property rental matters.
Rental properties are significant investments that must be protected. It is vital when dealing with the sometimes complex legalities of rental property that you retain an attorney who has extensive experience in this area of law. Jerome C. Williams, Jr. has focused exclusively on landlord and rental property management legal issues (excluding foreclosures) since 2013. His dedication to this area of law has earned him respect in the field and made him the go-to attorney when issues arise.
Clients of attorney Jerome C. Williams, Jr. find him to be refreshingly friendly and engaging. He keeps his practice at a manageable size so that he can continue to provide personal service to each client. He is accessible and maintains regular contact to update you on the status of your case. He fully and patiently explains all proceedings so that you are confident in making informed decisions. Many firms that practice in the area of residential rental law only work with clients with large portfolios of properties. Attorney Williams serves a more diverse clientele, and he works mainly for owners of apartment complexes.
Residential landlord and tenant law
Attorney Williams' concentration on residential landlord and tenant law has equipped him with a long history of experience and legal knowledge to protect your rights in this area. He is well versed in all facets of rental law. Clients rely on Jerome C. Williams, Jr. to assist with:
Contact a methodical St. Petersburg, Florida residential rental lawyer
Take the first step by calling a Florida attorney with the knowledge and experience to get your rental back on track. Whether it’s resolving an issue, addressing a lease violation or evicting a tenant, you can count on St. Petersburg’s Jerome C. Williams, Jr. The first step is to set up a consultation to go over your issue and formulate a strategy to ensure legal success. Call today at 888 813-5897 for your free consultation.
Our Family Law Focus:
Divorce, Child Custody, & Alimony
JC Williams law practices in the area of family law, an area of the law that includes, divorce, alimony, custody disputes, equitable distribution of assets, relocation, enforcement, and modifications. Our firm is dedicated to finding a resolution to these often very contentious issues. Our goal is to protect your family and your children through family law matters. Our attorneys are experienced in trial advocacy and litigation, but aware of the need for a resolution which preserves the best interests of you and your family.
Attention to the Individual Client is number 1
The practice of family law requires a close attention to the financial, personal and emotional aspects of a person’s life. These private characteristics are complex; requiring a unique plan to achieve the particular goals in any family law matter. With this philosophy in mind, JC Williams Law provides a specific plan in close consultation with each Client in order to navigate their specific family law issues.
Dedicated St. Petersburg & Clearwater Family Law Resolution
Family law is criticized by some as being a cumbersome and overly elongated process which negatively affects the family rather than providing a means of healthy transition. There are cases in which litigation cannot be avoided. JC Williams Law addresses each case with an eye towards amicable resolution and litigation if necessary. The Attorneys at JC Williams Law have witnessed first hand how the family law process can create unnecessary additional tension within families. Those affected the most are often those whose names appear on no legal pleadings, the children. JC Williams Law wishes to minimize the impact of the family law process and promote a future that is far less turbulent.
Why Choose JC Williams Law to represent you?
Legal issues that affect the family can be complex and emotional. JC Williams Law prides itself on its focus towards resolution, rather than the conflict. It is a paradox that the law propels people into bitter conflict in an effort to reconcile difference during a separation or parental conflict. JC Williams Law advises Clients as to the possible solutions and the risks involved in each case. While the focus at JC Williams Law is an amicable solution that allows for lessened conflict in the future, the Attorneys at JC Williams Law have significant litigation experience to assure complete and competent representation through the entire legal process.
Attorneys representing you in child support cases in Clearwater and Pinellas County, Florida
Your children’s financial well-being should not be compromised because of your divorce. Divorce lawyers at the St. Petersburg law firm of JC Williams Law have experience negotiating and litigating equitable support arrangements that protect your children’s health, home, education and future.
Our firm can put your family in the best position possible during your divorce. We can also help you with enforcement issues if the other parent refuses to abide by your divorce judgment and with modification of an existing child support order if your circumstances have changed.
We strategize the most beneficial allocation of other resources for your family’s financial protection — including your retirement funds, marital home and St. Petersburg assets.
Divorce lawyers advising you about Florida child support guidelines
Both parents share the obligations of raising healthy, happy children. The courts rely on the Florida child support guidelines to calculate the total amount and your portion of financial obligations to your children. Calculations are based on individual circumstances — including your income, your contribution to your children’s health and childcare expenses and the percentage of time the children spend with you.
Our family law team begins by determining the likely outcome should a court decide the issue of child support payments. We then discuss other personal considerations that may alter the statutory amount. A child’s special needs, private school education or treatment for a medical condition, for example, may require additional funding and time commitments. After discussing your goals for your family, we devise a strategy for obtaining a fair distribution of responsibilities.
Consult a child support attorney in St. Petersburg about your child’s right to financial support
Learn more about the equitable distribution of child support responsibilities after your divorce. Call St. Petersburg family law firm JC Williams Lawat 888.813.5897 or contact us online.
St. Petersburg Paternity Attorney
Prove or disprove a father’s biological relationship
Fatherhood comes with many important benefits and responsibilities. Evidence of paternity gives a father the opportunity to reunite with his children and protects his visitation and childrearing rights. Proof of paternity also allows children to receive full advantages from both parents — including child support, inheritance, public benefits and insurance. On the other hand, negative paternity test results can help a man avoid lifetime financial liability to a child who is not his.
The family law attorneys at St. Petersburg firm JC Williams Law guide parents through paternity issues. We advise both men and women about their legal options for proving or disproving paternity.
Legal presumption of fatherhood
A man is legally presumed to be the father of a child if:
- The child was born or conceived while he was married to the mother
- He legitimized the child through marriage to the mother
- He adopted the child
- Court proceedings established that he is the father
- An administrative order was issued based on genetic testing
- The father and mother officially acknowledged paternity
We review individual circumstances to determine whether parents have a legal basis for claiming paternity and the best means for establishing fatherhood.
Genetic testing produces reliable scientific proof of paternity. The Florida Department of Revenue administers and regulates DNA testing. Parents may not need to go to court, but can instead seek an administrative order directly from the agency. If one party refuses to cooperate, however, we ask a court to intervene and order the DNA testing.
Florida putative father registry
The Florida putative father registry provides a means for asserting paternity by an unmarried biological father. The system administered by the Florida Department of Health protects a father’s rights if the mother places their child up for adoption or if she enters dependency proceedings.
Find out more about proving and disproving paternity from experienced Pinellas County family law attorneys
Legal shared parental responsibility addresses the issues of decision making, communication difficulties, and one parent usurping control. There is a legal presumption of equality, each parent retaining his or her rights and responsibilities to the child. The legal issue is whether or not there should be:
- Full shared parental responsibility with both parents conferring and cooperating prior to making an decision and making all decisions jointly.
- Ultimate responsibility where both parents are still required to attempt to confer and cooperate but one parent has "final word" to make the decision if the parents cannot agree (instead of running to court each time for the court to make the decision).
- Sole parental responsibility, with one parent entitled to make all decisions without having to confer and cooperate with the other parent, with or without the responsibility or duty to keep the other parent informed and involved.
Effective October 1, 2008, Fla Stat 61.13(3) includes as a factor for determination of the best interest of the minor child for the purposes of establishing or modifying parental responsibility and creating, developing, approving, or modifying a parenting plan, subsection (q) "the demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to maintain an environment for the child which is free from substance abuse." If you suspect that the other party is a substance abuser or has been accused of being a substance abuse user, you might address the issue with your lawyer (assuming you are being represented by counsel). Usually, the individual being accused of substance abuse will be in a state of denial, which is common as both alcoholism and substance abuse are diseases of denial. If possible, information should be gathered on the earliest experiences with substances in their family growing up, in their adolescence, peer, family and other influences and patterns of use throughout the years.
Mercifully, there is not a great deal of technical language used in small claims courts. However, as a Small claims attorney, there are a number of legal terms that one should be cognizant of. While this post is not geared towards a small claim attorney, one bringing forth a legal claim in Small claims court, or defending one should be aware of these terms. Here are the following terms:
Pro se litigants may be told that because you are in small claims court, you don't need to have any legal knowledge or understanding about how legal claims work. You may be led to believe that all you will need to be able to do is:
- briefly state the nature of your dispute
- organize any evidence and witnesses you think will help back up your version of events
- come to court on time
- be polite, and
- let the judge decide if your case is any good.
- If you don't understand the legal rules the judge will apply to decide your case, you may waste time and energy pursuing an obvious loser
- If you don't understand the legal realities that underlie your case, you may prepare irrelevant arguments. In a worst-case scenario, you may not even understand--and therefore fail to fulfill--the key legal requirements necessary to have a judgment entered in your favor.
- If you win and especially if you lose, you won't know why.