Thursday, November 18, 2021

Types of Courts

Judge Judy, Law and Order, and many other lawyer-crime shows portray courtrooms with lawyers yelling, judges slamming gavels, and witnesses crying on the stand. While this does well for the dramatic effect and keeping viewers entertained, this is not an accurate representation of most courtrooms. Did you know that there are many different types of courts? For example, there’s criminal, civil, juvenile, and probate court.

Since Marcie specializes in three different areas of the legal world, I wanted to take a minute to delve deeper into how each of the courts of her three practice areas is different and why that is important to know.

1.) Family Law Courts

Although many family law issues fall under the civil court system, there are some specific issues that are meant for family court alone. Some examples are, “how to divide property between separating spouses, where children will live, and how family members will be financially supported.”

Family courts are also ones that try and ensure that a fair and equitable result is achieved for both parties.

In family court matters are also generally considered private between the two parties, unlike criminal court where high profile cases are often broadcast for the nation to see and weigh in on.

Family and civil courts also use the services of non-judicial personnel (such as mediators, evaluators, social workers) more so than criminal courts to hear and facilitate case decisions and agreements.

2.) Workers’ Compensation Courts

A case in workers’ comp. is presented to an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) otherwise referred to as the Judge of Compensation Claims (JCC) and not a jury like in a criminal proceeding. Where criminal cases can take days or weeks, many work comp. cases are usually wrapped up in a matter of hours. That being said, if the case is more complicated it could take several days.

At a workers’ comp. hearing the injured party usually testifies and answers questions about the accident and related injuries.

Similar to criminal courts, the decision that is ultimately made is not instantaneous. Much like how the jury deliberates, the workers’ comp. judge will take your testimony, witness’s testimony, and exhibits and review them before coming to a decision.

3.) Bankruptcy Courts

One of the biggest differences for bankruptcy courts is that they play a very different role from other types of courts. Most courts end up with a winner-loser scenario. In bankruptcy court, the end goal is to find a compromise between creditors and debtors.

Bankruptcy courts have much more of a limited jurisdiction than other types of courts. This means that bankruptcy courts can ONLY hear matters regarding bankruptcy. Should another issue arise in a different field of law, the court simply cannot hear it.

Finally, unlike other courts that were created by the Constitution, bankruptcy courts were created by Congress so the way you can appeal a claim is different than many other courts.

While each court is different in its own way, the implications that come with appearing before any judge for any matter are very real. That is why it is important to be aware of how your claim will proceed and to make sure that you are best prepared for each step of litigation that you may encounter.

I hope that you have found this blog informative, and it opened your eyes to just how intricate the legal world and court system can be. If you would like to discuss a claim in any one of Marcie’s practice areas please be sure to fill out our contact form. We would love to see you for a free consultation!

***This blog is only meant for informational purposes. Nothing in its contents constitutes legal advice of any kind. Should you need legal assistance please fill out our contact form below to schedule a free consultation.


Thursday, November 11, 2021

What Does it Mean to Settle Your Case?

    Although TV crime dramas like to portray a big, contentious trial with all kinds of twists and turns this is actually not the reality for many family law and workers’ comp cases. In a summer 2021 study, it was discovered that 90% of parents settle their family law cases outside of the courtroom. You can access that study here. It may be fun to see your favorite actor/actress throw around legal jargon and win the big case, but at the end of the day, trials can be lengthy, expensive, and added stress for many. It is important to know that there are options outside of the courtroom and what they can mean for your case.

    Today I am going to give a brief overview of what a settlement is, and what this means for your family law or workers’ comp case.

    The most basic definition of settlement is, “An agreement that ends a dispute and results in a voluntary dismissal of any related litigation.” Settlements can occur in many legal areas. For example, a settlement in business law relates to the closing of accounts. In estate law, this would be the execution of an estate by an executor.

    Settlement is a little different when it comes to Family Law. The purpose of settling your family law dispute is to encourage parties to resolve their differences without having to go to trial. Parties can come to an agreement about things such as child support or divisions of assets and property. This can also be done through mediation, as another way to avoid having to go through a lengthy, costly trial.

    There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to when parties should settle their case. Some people would like to resolve the issues as quickly as possible, where others are comfortable with a longer process so they can resolve all issues and make sure the result is most equitable for them. Parties do have to consider how prolonging their case will affect them emotionally and financially, but ultimately must decide what move is right for them.

    In Workers’ Comp., settlement is also very different. It also helps resolve a dispute outside of the courtroom, but there are many different ways claimants can agree to a settlement. Many people confuse settling a workers’ comp. case with settling a personal injury case, but in fact, the two are very different. In a personal injury case, victims generally can recover the full costs of the accident. In workers’ comp., costs that can be recovered are only those that can be recovered under the workers’ comp. system. I will delve more into those options below.

    It is also important to know that in Florida a workers’ comp. the claimant does not have to be represented by an attorney to accept a settlement. However, a separate hearing will be required by the JCC when claimants are not represented. In Florida, there are many situations that workers’ compensation settlements can provide payment for:

        - Future injury costs. This is calculated based on what a claimant could collect in medical or wage benefits because of their injury. Settlements are generally made to those workers who are going to have ongoing medical needs and may be unable to return to work.

        - Permanent disability benefits. This could be indefinite payments to an injured worker that insurers could be liable for.

        - Past due payments. This could relate to medical payments that need to be reimbursed or other injury-related financial disputes.

        - Vocational rehabilitation. This payment can relate to a form of job retraining. Florida law requires an employer to pay 26 weeks of wage losses as long as the injured worker has attended vocational rehabilitation. This length of time can be extended to 52 weeks in some cases.

    Settlement can be a very efficient tool. It helps people save time, money and avoids the added stress of a trial. It is important to discuss all your options with your attorney and take a big picture look at your case to determine if a settlement is right for you.

***This blog is meant for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. If you require assistance with your workers’ comp. or family law case, or have any additional questions about settlements, please do not hesitate to fill out our contact form below. We would be happy to assist you.


Thursday, November 4, 2021

Contested vs. Uncontested Divorces

    I’ve blogged about divorce a few times now, covering the aspects, what it can mean for your case, and the pros and cons. But, did you know that there are multiple types of divorce? It is important to know the different paths that you can take with your divorce as well as understanding the consequences of choosing one option over the other.

            At its most basic definition, an uncontested divorce is one where the parties agree or compromise on all of the major issues. Major issues include matters related to children, dividing assets and debts, and anything covering alimony or child support. Here are some elements that distinguish uncontested from contested divorces:

-          Uncontested divorces typically take less time. The process itself may still be lengthy, but it is much quicker than divorces where trial, discovery, and other legal procedures are involved.

-          Uncontested divorces are not appealable. Since one of the requirements of an uncontested divorce is that both parties consent to the agreement, the final terms of the divorce will not be appealable.

-          Despite the fact that you and your spouse have agreed to part ways amicably, it is always in your best interest to consult with an attorney so that you can address any issues that you or your spouse are unsure about.

            A simple definition of a contested divorce is that the parties do not agree on major issues and will need to rely on the court to determine the outcome of their case. Below are the elements that make a divorce contested.

-          Contested divorces require more legal proceedings. Parties may be ordered to attend mediation, in the hopes that they can come to a compromise without having to go to trial. However, if mediation does not help, then the next move is to go trial where you will appear before a family law judge.

-          Contested divorces can take a greater financial and emotional toll on both parties as well as any children involved. Since the process is lengthier, the costs will increase and the longer this conflict is drawn out the more bitter feelings may arise.

-          If the spouses cannot come to an agreement through mediation, the judge is ultimately the one who decides the terms of the divorce. The less control spouses have, means that the result may benefit one spouse over the other.

            It is ALWAYS a good idea to consult with an attorney, especially to ensure that your divorce is completed properly and both parties are treated fairly. While you may think it will be cheaper to proceed with a do-it-yourself divorce, incorrect paperwork or lack of understanding in legal proceedings may end up costing you more in the long run.

As I have said previously, divorce is certainly not the happiest time in a person’s life. While there is no guarantee that you and your spouse will be able to come to a compromise and have an uncontested divorce, it is important to be prepared for whatever may arise during legal proceedings regarding your divorce. Having this knowledge will help you to best prepare and approach the conflict in a way that will hopefully benefit you, your spouse, and any children that you may have.

***This blog is meant to serve as informational only and does not constitute legal advice. If you have any questions about divorce, please fill out our contact information below to schedule a free consultation with Marcie!



Time to Say Goodbye

Happy Thursday, all! Enjoy this upcoming long weekend and the unofficial start to summer! Sadly, all good things must come to an end, and to...