Author: Andrew D. Wheeler

Florida Parenting Plans

Florida parenting plans govern post-divorce relationships with children by identifying the time each parent will have with their children, as well as each parent’s responsibilities to make decisions for the children.

Florida’s Seniors vs. Crime Project

Florida seniors have an ally to protect them from scams and fraudulent practices.  The Seniors vs. Crime Project was formed in 2001 by the Florida Attorney General’s Office to reduce the victimization of senior citizens who, due to their age, are targeted for specific crimes or scams. The Project provides various educational and crime prevention programs to senior citizen groups, investigates complaints and seeks compensation for seniors where appropriate and establishes investigative agencies with senior volunteers to assist with investigations. The Project handles thousands of cases for seniors every year. Since 2001, local Project offices have handled more than 39,000 cases, and recovered over $16,000,000 in funds, plus over $12,000,000 in realized gain for Florida seniors. That is a total of $28,000,000 recovered for Florida seniors that would have otherwise been lost without intervention by the Project. The Seniors vs. Crime Project assists people aged 55 and up who are involved in civil disputes with contractors and other businesses or individuals who may have defrauded or otherwise taken advantage of them financially. There is no charge or …

What is Collaborative Divorce, and is it the Right Path for You?

The collaborative divorce process enables couples who have decided to divorce, separate or end their marriage to work with their lawyers and other family professionals in order to avoid the cost, stress and uncertain outcome of a contested divorce.

Florida Power of Attorney: What it can do, and what it can’t do.

A Power of Attorney is, generally speaking, the most important document in a comprehensive estate plan.  A Power of Attorney is a legal document that delegates authority from one person to another. The person who makes a Power of Attorney (called the “principal”) grants their agent specified rights to act on the principal’s behalf. The scope of a Power of Attorney can vary widely, as authority is limited to specified acts or authority is broadly bestowed upon the agent to engage in a wide range of action.  Each person’s need for a power of attorney should be assessed under their particular circumstances. If the Power of Attorney is “durable,” then the principal’s authority to act survives incapacity.  In other words, if the principal is injured or unconscious in a way that prevents them from being able to take action individually, the principal’s authority will remain active even under these conditions.  To make a power of attorney durable, a principal simply needs to make that intention known in the wording of the Power of Attorney. A …

Elder Exploitation in Florida

Florida’s Elder Exploitation Law On October 1, 2014, Florida Statute 825.103, entitled “Exploitation of an elderly person or disabled adult” took effect.  This law makes it easier to prosecute people who prey on elders and the law increases penalties for crimes against elders. How does the newly revised statute define exploitation of an elderly person or disabled adult? The revised statute focuses on financial exploitation of elderly and disabled adults. It targets people who use funds, assets, or property of elderly or disabled adults with the intent to deprive them of the use of those funds, assets or property, or to benefit someone other than the elderly person or disabled adult. It also targets people who breach their fiduciary duties, misappropriate money, and fail to use an elderly person’s or disabled adult’s income and assets for the necessities required for that person’s support and maintenance.  Fiduciary duties can exist where a person, whether related or not to the elderly person, establishes a position of trust with an elderly person and then, using that position, misappropriates funds or …

Making Decisions in a Florida Divorce

Here’s an extremely practical article about making personal judgments during a divorce. So many clients want their attorney to make both legal and personal decisions for them during a divorce, but an attorney’s advice should never be a substitute for personal values and goals. Be active in your case and ask questions to ensure that the outcome reflects what you value most. Family law and elder law attorneys follow the direction of their clients when they make legal decisions to protect their clients.  The given direction, however, should always be determined by the client.  The decisions that are made during a divorce are often difficult decisions.  Attorneys are often well-versed in matters of divorce law and procedure.  However, every client’s goals and interests are different, and the legal course of a case should reflect those goals and interests.  Therefore, no matter how knowledgeable or experienced your attorney is, make sure to communicate information and ask questions as you proceed toward a divorce.

Who gets the family pet?

I recently received a call from a gentleman who was preparing for a divorce, and he was concerned about a custody issue. Interestingly, the couple had no children during the marriage. He wanted to understand his rights to custody of a pet, in this case a dog. In a divorce, the question often arises: Who gets to keep the family pet?   Florida family laws are designed to protect the best interests of children in divorce.  Based upon a myriad of factors, the court will determine what it believes to serve the interests of children due to social, economic, educational, emotional and other factors that will serve the children’s interests, and assign custody accordingly.  Pets are not given to either of the divorcing parties based upon this standard.  Rather, pets continue to be viewed by the law and courts as personal property.  Therefore, the court will award the family pet or pets to one of the parties based upon the equitable distribution standard. Pets that were acquired by one of the parties prior to the divorce will …