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01/10/2014
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Updates to Alimony Laws

The Florida legislature has again modified the alimony statute with the changes set to go into effect July 1, 2011.  The clear purpose of the modifications to the alimony statute is to continue to limit the amount and circumstances under which a party can receive alimony.  With the advent of equal opportunities for women, society has gradually become more indisposed to the concept of alimony.  This disfavor is reflected in the legislature’s revisions to the alimony statute.

So, how did the legislature further restrict the ability to obtain alimony.  First, the legislature clarified that, once the basic requirements has been met that one party has a need for alimony and the other party has the ability to pay alimony, the court in determining the proper type and amount of alimony under all types of alimony (permanent, durational, and temporary), must consider all 10 statutory factors already delineated in the statute.

Next, the legislature provided that durational alimony is also available after a long-term marriage of over 17 years if there is no ongoing need for support on a permanent basis.  Permanent alimony continues until death, remarriage or cohabitation by the spouse receiving alimony while durational alimony is only for a set period of time, cannot be modified except under exceptional circumstances and cannot last for any longer time period than the marriage lasted.  Formerly, durational alimony was only available for short-term marriages (seven years or less) or moderate-term marriages (seven years to 17 years).  The latest provision is intended to encourage trial courts to further limit the situations in which they provide for permanent alimony.

Then the legislature made it clear that permanent alimony may only be awarded in short-term or moderate-term marriages under certain extreme circumstances.  In an effort to further emphasize to the trial courts the disfavor that currently exists regarding  permanent alimony in short-term and moderate-term marriages, the legislature required that an award of permanent alimony in a marriage of moderate duration must be based upon clear and convincing evidence as opposed to the typical standard of preponderance of the evidence.  Further, in order to award permanent alimony in a marriage of short duration, the trial court is now required to make written findings of the exceptional circumstances which warranted such permanent alimony.  Additionally, in any circumstance where the trial court awards permanent alimony, it is now required to include a finding that no other form of alimony is fair and reasonable under the circumstances of the parties.  Clearly, these requirements were intended to encourage if not force the trial court to use other types of alimony other than permanent alimony.

Finally, the legislature codified the requirement that has essentially always been in place which is that the party paying alimony should not be left with significantly less net income than the net income of the party receiving alimony except under exceptional circumstances.  If there are such exceptional circumstances, the trial court must make  written findings to support this type of award.

Obviously, these changes are geared to further society’s general disfavor of alimony, and particularly permanent alimony, except under limited circumstances.  The legislature’s changes reflect that societal change.

Careless driving – Traffic Ticket Defense in Gainesville & Ocala

When a driver gets a careless driving traffic ticket it can be a very serious matter. A citation for careless driving normally means a traffic ticket defense lawyer should be contacted.  Many times the charge is the result of a traffic crash or accident.

If the officer makes the allegation of a serious bodily injury, then the consequences can be severe. Accusations of careless driving causing serious bodily injury or death cause mandatory fines and license suspension if convicted. The mandatory suspensions for careless driving are triggered if the cited driver has seioulsy injured or killed another person. In addition to mandatory fines and driver’s license suspension, a violation of careless driving resulting in a death can also result in one hundred and twenty (120) community service hours, which is more than required for a DUI!!!

Reckless driving is a criminal traffic offense. A citation for careless driving is a non-criminal moving violation that carries three (3) points unless there is an allegation of a crash. A conviction for careless driving causing a crash will result in four (4) points. Many times the charge for careless driving will only involve one vehicle, that of the driver who received the citation. In almost all cases the officer that issued the citation for careless driving will not have witnessed the accident. In those instances you should always hire an attorney to fight your traffic ticket.

Careless driving, whether involving serious bodily injury or death, or just a crash where thankfully no person is hurt is a serious traffic offense with potential long term consequences not only to a driving record but to insurance premiums. Please click, call or fill out the form to hire a traffic ticket lawyer now.

Gainesville (352) 371-9141

Ocala (352) 694-4529

Red Light Cameras

As a traffic ticket lawyer in the Gainesville and Ocala area an article stating that red light cameras may be coming to Gainesville, Florida sooner rather than later peaked my interest this weekend. According to the article our commissioners are voting this week on whether to install red light cameras at intersections here in Gainesville. These types of traffic citations for running a red light and being accused by a red light camera are problematic and can be fought. The citations for a traffic violation are mailed to the registered owner.

The article notes a few interesting facts. First some of these red light traffic tickets are being thrown out by the courts. Right now, Florida courts are split on whether citations issued due to red light cameras are constitutional notwithstanding the calibration and maintenance issues. Second it costs too much if citizens fight. That is government admitting what I always say, that if more of us stood up and fought these things then more of us would win. The trouble is that if you find yourself having to appeal a traffic citation, the costs outweigh the individual victory.

Are these red light cameras really deterrents? What is more of a deterrent, the marked cruiser or the camera that a driver may or may not know is present? At the intersection of Archer Road and 34th Street by the University of Florida in Gainesville, the city has installed motion sensors. They look an awful lot like cameras, has that deterred anything?

One example of how this law may be found unconstitutional is if you imagine the owner of the vehicle, if the owner claims they were not the driver, has to swear to an affidavit who was driving the car. What if the owner committed the crime of knowingly permitting an unauthorized operator to drive? This is a violation of Florida Statutes section 322.36 and is a misdemeanor. Then presumably the fifth amendment would protect that owner from swearing anything? Also note how the law shifts the burden of proof to the owner away from the government. This runs afoul to our founding principles. What if we are gathering for the holidays and 12 drivers had access and the owner does not know? All 12 have to be turned in?

If you are cited for any traffic matter, criminal or civil, you should at least speak with a traffic lawyer. Please click, call or fill out the form to hire a ticket lawyer.

Gainesville (352) 371-9141

Ocala (352) 694-4529

DUI Deferment Program for a First DUI in Gainesville, Florida.

A person arrested and accused of a first DUI in Gainesville Florida may qualify for the DUI Deferment Program or DUI DP. The net result of the Deferral agreement is that at the end of supervision, the driver will be sentenced upon charges of Reckless Driving rather than as charged, with a first DUI. If a person qualifies for the DUI Deferment, then legal costs and fees will be less. Not all people will qualify; speak to a DUI lawyer in Gainesville, Florida before you go to court.

The main reason for the drastic reduction in fees and costs is that in order to enter into the program, a citizen accused of DUI, usually must agree to the program within thirty (30) days. Sometimes arraignment is not scheduled for weeks. Furthermore, the time to choose the program usually comes prior to the DHSMV hearing. Less litigation means less in fees and costs. A person arrested for a first DUI in Gainesville still has the right to challenge the automatic suspension of their driver’s license at the DHSMV hearing.  A formal review hearing must be requested within ten (10) days from the arrest. Furthermore, requesting a DHMSV hearing may allow you to see the evidence of DUI sooner than through the normal DUI discovery process.

The main disqualifiers for the DUI DP are if there is an allegation of DUI with property damage or injury or if the person accused of DUI has a significant traffic history. A person accused of DUI with property damage or injury should have representation by a DUI lawyer. An arrest for driving under the influence in Florida has time limitations. If you or someone you know has been arrested for a DUI in Gainesville do not wait for the case to go back to court to take action because, rights may be lost by the time a case returns to court.

Please click, call or fill out the form to hire a DUI lawyer now.

Gainesville (352) 371-9141

Ocala (352) 694-4529