Gainesville Personal Injury, Divorce and Alimony Attorney

North Florida Traffic Ticket Defense

Traffic ticket defense can be rewarding and frustrating. Florida has 67 counties. That means 67 different ways of doing things. Then within those counties different judges and hearing officers with different assistants that all seem to like things done differently too. That is the frustrating part. This is also why it is important that if you want to hire a lawyer to handle your traffic citation that you select an attorney that is from the county or regularly practices within the county where you received the ticket. Consider whether you would drive from the other end of the state to either Marion County or Columbia County for the fee we charge. Do you really want an attorney from a big city down south handling your traffic case in Alachua County or Bradford County? If you are a CDL driver, and need an amendment to the citation to keep your job, this should be an important consideration. 

Your attorney and their staff should be able to answer questions about the county where your traffic case is located. (Unless you are talking to the brand new staff person). For instance, do your attorney and their staff know the difference between criminal traffic court in Marion and Alachua County? How long does it take for the Clerk to set a hearing in traffic court in Bradford County versus Columbia County or Marion County? What do the words used by the Clerk mean? Will your case require a pre-trial? Do you have a chance to have your traffic ticket dismissed if the officer does not show at the next court date? In some counties like Duval and Columbia the answer could be no. In Columbia County it depends.  In Alachua County, Bradford County and Marion County the Court calls the final proceeding something different than that same proceeding in Duval County. What about Columbia County traffic court?

For any county, if you want representation when it goes to court call my office. I have actually appeared in 33 Florida counties as of the typing of this blog. Primarily we take cases in Alachua, Bradford, Citrus, Columbia, Levy, Marion and are moving into Duval, but have serviced others and no two counties do things the same. If you have a traffic case, hire local. Call, click or fill out the form at the top right of the page for a consultation.

Gainesville (352) 371-9141

Ocala (352) 694-4529

Post-Accident Considerations 

It is not uncommon for victims to have uncertainties over just how to proceed following an injury-causing accident, and rightfully so—being injured in an unexpected accident can be quite unnerving in and of itself. The Gainesville Attorneys of the Law Office of Alba & Straile, PLLC discuss some post-accident considerations to keep in mind in the event that an accident an injury were to occur.

It is important to be aware that the actions you take following an accident can potentially impact your right to seek recovery and/or the eventual outcome of your case. For example, preserving evidence at the accident scene (i.e. taking photographs, or identifying witnesses), as well as formally documenting the case (i.e. police report following an auto collision, or incident report following a slip & fall) can play a critical role in your case.

In addition, and depending on the type of incident, you may be required to report the incident to an insurance company, and/or seek medical treatment from an appropriate provider with a certain period of time. Victims should also be aware of any time limitations for filing suit, as set forth by statute.

Adhering to legal obligations and requirements, while doing so in a manner that best serves your interests can be difficult for many, because it requires the ability to properly interpret provisions set forth under an insurance policy, as well as those set forth under Florida law.

Some victims may have concerns over the impact of prior actions, or failure(s) to act, following the incident. Some have questions over potential sources(s) of liability; which person or entity may be at fault; and/or what types of damages they may be entitled to recover. Some have concerns over a pre-existing injury, or a subsequent or concurrent accident. These are all questions that can answered by a skilled legal professional.

By securing representation, you can focus on recuperating from your injuries, while your attorney focuses on seeking the compensation that you deserve.

The Frustration of a Criminal and Traffic Defense Lawyer

Criminal and traffic defense can be a difficult area to practice. It seems that every time a constitutional protection might favor a person, the government finds a way to circumvent or change the law. A recent criminal traffic case of driving on a suspended license reminded me of a stop that, the fact that it is a legal stop, absolutely blows my mind. 

A sheriff’s deputy, while on routine patrol, observed a vehicle and performed a computer check on it’s license plate. The check revealed that the registered owner of the vehicle had a suspended license; therefore, the officer performed a traffic stop. The cop testified that he stopped the vehicle to determine if the car’s registered owner, who had a suspended license, was driving the car. In other words, the officer had no idea if the owner was driving before stopping the car. The officer further testified that he could not remember if the driver was the registered owner of the vehicle or if the driver matched the owner’s description.

Some people would think this is an illegal stop because the officer did not determine or seemingly even investigate whether the driver matched the description of the owner, not even gender prior to the stop or seizure.  To me, it sounds, feels and smells wrong, unfair and unconstitutional that an officer can pull over a man driving a woman’s car because the female has a suspended license without even checking to verify that the gender matches the suspicion of a criminal offense.

Unbelievably, that is the law.  The life lesson is to beware. If driving a car belonging to a person with a suspended driver’s license, then the driver is subject to being detained or stopped for no reason other than the owner’s license is suspended. This is true even if the driver is doing nothing wrong. I am amazed that the Courts think this can happen under the Fourth Amendment.  I completely disagree, but the lawyers wearing black robes have written. Unfortunately, this is an example of case law that I do not like but have to live with as practicing criminal and traffic defense attorney. Traffic stops are often used to gain access to vehicles when law enforcement is really looking for drugs.

The criminal justice system can be frustrating for those of us who believe in silly little things like the constitution. It can be even more frustrating if you are an accused going it alone. Don’t go it alone. For a free consultation in any criminal or traffic matter, click, call or fill out the form.

Gainesville (352) 371-9141

Ocala (352) 694-4529

What is a Custody Order? 

The Gainesville Child Custody Attorneys of the Law Office of Alba & Straile, PLLC understand the difficulties that parents can have when attempting to sort through and make sense of the numerous documents that typically accompany a family law proceeding involving the custody, care and responsibility of minor children. Even the simplest custodial matters can involve an overwhelming amount of paperwork, which can make it hard for parents to understand their rights, duties and obligations as set forth within their custody order. This task can seem all the more daunting when the parents are dealing with child custody issues, while also in the process of dissolving their marriage.

The term ‘custody order’ can be somewhat misleading in and of itself, and for several reasons. First, if you are looking for a document in your file that is simply entitled ‘custody order,’ you are unlikely to find it. In fact, given recent revisions to Florida Statutes, including changes in terminology intended to equalize parental responsibility and reduce conflict, it has become decreasingly common for the term ‘custody’ to be even be referenced in the title of an initial order or judgment, particularly in cases where the parents have equal time-sharing and responsibility.

In addition, the term ‘custody order’ is singular, which can be misinterpreted to mean that each and every issue pertaining to child custody has been neatly and concisely set forth within a single document. However, the actual custody order or judgment, is often little more than a brief document, signed by the judge, and filed with the court, that approves, attaches, references, or otherwise directs the parties to other documents, such as the marital settlement agreement, parenting plan and time-sharing schedule.

In some cases, the parties are able to reach their own resolution regarding custodial matters, and the court will subsequently enter an order approving such agreement. In other cases, issues over custody remain in dispute, and therefore the court must enter a ruling to resolve such issues. For many, custody proceedings involve a combination of both parental agreement and decisions of the court. As such, custodial agreements entered into between the parties, custody determinations made by the court, and the orders or judgments that extend from each, must be considered in conjunction with one another.

Parents should also keep in mind that orders regarding custody and visitation come in many forms. For example, the court may enter an order on a temporary basis while a divorce is pending. A temporary custody order may also be necessary when there is an issue regarding a parent’s relocation with a child, or for jurisdictional purposes when there is an existing out-of-state order. Even final judgments or orders pertaining to custody may be subject to modification in the future. Modifications often address only an isolated issue or issues, and therefore parents must consider the changed terms, while also accounting for any original terms that were not modified.

Consequently, the term ‘custody order’ is essentially just a succinct way of referencing all the documents that set forth the current legal rights, duties, and responsibilities that each parent has over a particular minor child. What is most important for parents, is understanding which custodial terms that they are currently subject to at a given time. If you have any questions or concerns regarding an existing custody order or pending custody dispute, the Gainesville Child Custody Attorneys of the Law Office of Alba & Straile, PLLC are here to help.

How can Mediation Help in my Divorce?

As divorce attorneys, the Gainesville attorneys of the Law Office of Alba & Straile, PLLC know that for many, deciding how to go about identifying and resolving issues in their divorce may be very difficult. Although it would be nice if divorcing couples could agree on all terms at the onset of initiating the dissolution process, this is not always possible. Fortunately, there are alternatives to resolving contested matters without the need to endure the time and expense of a trial, even in cases where initial attempts to negotiate fail. For many, mediation offers an efficient and cost-effective means of terminating a marriage, while also allowing the parties to protect their legal rights and interests and make their own decisions over the terms of the divorce.

In some divorce cases, family mediation is a mandatory requirement, and therefore, for some is viewed as more of a legal obligation as opposed to a viable option to resolving disputes. However, mediation should not be dismissed so quickly. In doing so you may be limiting yourself, particularly if you are entering the mediation with a pre-determined mindset that it will fail, or in other words, an impasse will occur. There are many benefits that can be gained through taking an open-minded approach to the mediation process, a few of which are discussed below.

Mediation can offer the opportunity for each party to openly discuss their position on particular issues, without being interrupted, or having their thoughts or ideas immediately rejected by the other party. Mediation should be viewed as a forum for discussion as opposed to argument. The process can allow each party to actually consider one another’s thoughts, suggestions, perceptions, feelings and potential solutions in a realistic manner. For many, mediation can provide the parties with further understanding as to whether or not their expectations regarding the terms of the divorce are even practical.

Mediation can be particularly beneficial in divorces where the parties share minor children. It can open the doors to future communications with a person that, regardless of divorce, will still be a part of your life, at least to the extent the children are involved. It can help divorcing couples remember that while they no longer share a life together, the children still share the parties as parents. It is important for parents to keep in mind that while they may lack concern over their soon-to-be ex-spouse, a certain amount of concern is necessary to ensure the physical, mental, and financial well-being of any children of the marriage. Mediation can pave the road to ensuring the parties protect the best interest of their children after divorce.

Perhaps the most significant consideration to using mediation over litigation to resolve disputes in a contested divorce is self-determination. Mediation can allow the parties to reach agreement on their own, rather than leave the court to use their own discretion to resolve their disputes based upon the evidence in front of them. Even if the parties are able to reach resolution on at least some issues during mediation, doing is often preferred to leaving all issues for the court to decide. Once the issues are in the court’s hands any result within the law can occur and it may not make either party happy.

Another important consideration is the manner in which mediation can aide in reducing the expenses associated with dissolving a marriage in Florida. For more on this topic, see ‘Cost-Benefit Analysis: Mediation versus Litigation.’

Every divorce can vary—and while mediation is suitable for some—it is not suitable for all. In selecting the appropriate route to take in dissolving your marriage, it is important to understand your options based upon your unique circumstances. Having an experienced divorce attorney on your side can save you time, money, and stress. Whether you are considering or in the process of divorce, contact us, we can help.

Cost-Benefit Analysis: Mediation versus Litigation 

The Gainesville Divorce Attorneys of the Law Office of The Gainesville Divorce Attorneys of the Law Office of Alba & Straile, PLLC know that when it comes to contested divorces, clients generally have two primary concerns: (1) meeting expectations regarding the terms of the dissolution; and (2) doing so in the most cost-effective manner. While for some divorcing couples, it may appear, at least in the initial phases, that trial seems inevitable—this does not necessarily mean that there is no hope for pre-trial resolution. In fact, for many spouses, they later find that they are actually able to resolve disputed matters without court intervention through the process of mediation. Here, we discuss the benefits to mediating disputed matters, in terms of the overall cost and expense of obtaining a divorce. First and foremost in evaluating the cost of mediation, it is helpful to know that: (1) either a public or private mediator can be used; and (2) either party can be represented by counsel at mediation. Although private mediation is typically more costly, for some this approach can be more effective in facilitating negotiation. Likewise, although there are of course attorney’s fees associated with having counsel represent you at mediation, it is important to consider how a legal advocate can improve your chances of successfully reaching resolution on as many issues as is possible. Given the foregoing, consider the cost of mediation as opposed to litigation, based upon a scenario in which a party will be represented by counsel at a mediation that will be overseen by a private mediator. Let’s say the mediation takes 3 hours. In calculating costs, it would be necessary to multiply the hourly rates of both mediator and attorney by three. Now, consider this cost in comparison to the expenses associated with trial… In the overwhelming majority of cases, even attorney-represented private mediation will be the most cost-effective approach in a contested divorce, particularly where the parties are able to reach full agreement on all terms. However, even partial resolution can reduce costs, by limiting the number of issues that your attorney will need to address at trial. Two additional thoughts should be taken into consideration in comparing divorce costs associated with mediation versus litigation at trial… First, it is important to evaluate whether, given prior attempts at negotiation, it is unlikely that mediation will provide a forum by which the parties can reach agreement. In some cases, family mediation may be mandatory, and therefore, a valid attempt at reaching resolution should be made, while also ensuring that mediation is as brief as possible in circumstances where the parties’ ability to negotiate seems altogether pointless and/or futile. In other cases, and regardless as to whether mediation is mandatory or non-mandatory, an attorney can aide in ensuring that the topics addressed in mediation are limited to those which are most likely to be resolved. Second, it is helpful to consider the cost-benefit analysis of mediation from the perspective of a family law attorney. Representation in divorces, and any family law proceeding for that matter, are never taken on a contingency basis, meaning that the attorney has ZERO financial stake in the outcome. In fact to do so would be against rules of professional conduct. Thusly, when your attorney recommends, suggests, or advises, that disputed matters over the terms of the divorce are capable of resolution through mediation—such analysis is offered solely for the benefit of the client. In other words, if your attorney didn’t genuinely care about their client’s interests they could simply allow the parties to relentlessly and persistently continue their disputes in a long, expensive, drawn-out process, in which the court will eventually decide for them. Consequently, it is important to keep in mind that if, upon attorney evaluation, it is determined that mediation may be a practical solution in your divorce case, such advise should generally be considered for exactly what it is – your attorney’s concern over the well-being of their client! At the same time, we preface such contentions with the view that properly assessing the best approach to take in a divorce is more appropriately left to the determination of an experience qualified divorce attorney. Not every divorce is the same, and neither is every divorce attorney. We encourage all divorcees to know their rights, understand their options, and take measures to protect them. know that when it comes to contested divorces, clients generally have two primary concerns: (1) meeting expectations regarding the terms of the dissolution; and (2) doing so in the most cost-effective manner. While for some divorcing couples, it may appear, at least in the initial phases, that trial seems inevitable—this does not necessarily mean that there is no hope for pre-trial resolution. In fact, for many spouses, they later find that they are actually able to resolve disputed matters without court intervention through the process of mediation. Here, we discuss the benefits to mediating disputed matters, in terms of the overall cost and expense of obtaining a divorce. First and foremost in evaluating the cost of mediation, it is helpful to know that: (1) either a public or private mediator can be used; and (2) either party can be represented by counsel at mediation. Although private mediation is typically more costly, for some this approach can be more effective in facilitating negotiation. Likewise, although there are of course attorney’s fees associated with having counsel represent you at mediation, it is important to consider how a legal advocate can improve your chances of successfully reaching resolution on as many issues as is possible. Given the foregoing, consider the cost of mediation as opposed to litigation, based upon a scenario in which a party will be represented by counsel at a mediation that will be overseen by a private mediator. Let’s say the mediation takes 3 hours. In calculating costs, it would be necessary to multiply the hourly rates of both mediator and attorney by three. Now, consider this cost in comparison to the expenses associated with trial… In the overwhelming majority of cases, even attorney-represented private mediation will be the most cost-effective approach in a contested divorce, particularly where the parties are able to reach full agreement on all terms. However, even partial resolution can reduce costs, by limiting the number of issues that your attorney will need to address at trial. Two additional thoughts should be taken into consideration in comparing divorce costs associated with mediation versus litigation at trial… First, it is important to evaluate whether, given prior attempts at negotiation, it is unlikely that mediation will provide a forum by which the parties can reach agreement. In some cases, family mediation may be mandatory, and therefore, a valid attempt at reaching resolution should be made, while also ensuring that mediation is as brief as possible in circumstances where the parties’ ability to negotiate seems altogether pointless and/or futile. In other cases, and regardless as to whether mediation is mandatory or non-mandatory, an attorney can aide in ensuring that the topics addressed in mediation are limited to those which are most likely to be resolved. Second, it is helpful to consider the cost-benefit analysis of mediation from the perspective of a family law attorney. Representation in divorces, and any family law proceeding for that matter, are never taken on a contingency basis, meaning that the attorney has ZERO financial stake in the outcome. In fact to do so would be against rules of professional conduct. Thusly, when your attorney recommends, suggests, or advises, that disputed matters over the terms of the divorce are capable of resolution through mediation—such analysis is offered solely for the benefit of the client. In other words, if your attorney didn’t genuinely care about their client’s interests they could simply allow the parties to relentlessly and persistently continue their disputes in a long, expensive, drawn-out process, in which the court will eventually decide for them. Consequently, it is important to keep in mind that if, upon attorney evaluation, it is determined that mediation may be a practical solution in your divorce case, such advise should generally be considered for exactly what it is – your attorney’s concern over the well-being of their client! At the same time, we preface such contentions with the view that properly assessing the best approach to take in a divorce is more appropriately left to the determination of an experience qualified divorce attorney. Not every divorce is the same, and neither is every divorce attorney. We encourage all divorcees to know their rights, understand their options, and take measures to protect them.