Latest Posts was last modified: March 18th, 2016 by Howard Iken
Your Marriage Might Not Last, but Alimony Could Be ForeverIn Florida, alimony is not automatic and is not ordered in every divorce. However, alimony is not a rare occurrence. Alimony is defined as one spouse’s payment to the other spouse, either through an agreement between the couple or under a court order. Alimony is also known as spousal support or maintenance, but they essentially mean the same thing. The goal of spousal support is to ensure that both spouses can meet their financial needs.
Florida Alimony Reform Group's Multi Year Effort Failed Again - 2022Governor DeSantis Vetoes Another Attempt at Alimony Reform Alimony reform groups have been trying for years to push through a revamp of alimony laws. Most notably, the proposed amendments have included the elimination of permanent alimony, a more defined and consistent way to calculated alimony, and tweaks to other highly debated provisions in the current law. Those other tweaks include prohibitions on receiving alimony where the individual lives in what is called a “supportive relationship” (a relationship that mimics an intact marriage). There is also an effort to protect potential alimony payors that are retired, or on the verge of retirement.
Another Great Client Comment!Ayo & Iken Partner Jeana Vogel has an impressive history of accomplishments for her clients. There is no shortage of great testimonials about her work and we frequently see repeat clients that want to come back to Ms. Vogel for help. The entire team at Ayo & Iken is always proud to see the latest comments from her clients: A client’s comment from a recently completed case:
When Politics Enter the Family Law CourtroomThe last two years have altered all of society. The primary issues include the pandemic, the ongoing, bitter political rhetoric, and racial divisions. As if that is not enough, now we are divided by links to foreign nationality and allegiance to perceived sides in distant wars. These issues have permeated all aspects of society. As a prominent law firm, we have seen more than our share of how these issues invaded the courtroom and how they are used as weapons in family law cases. One ongoing controversy we could never have predicted is the issue of covid vaccinations and how it interacts with parenting. Parents are fighting it out with every possible permutation: should kids get vaccinated, should unvaccinated parents have their parenting time affected, and what information do we use to guide our decisions? I ran across a highly well-thought-out court decision by a court in Canada. The decision is lengthy, informative, and enjoyable to read. The court decision does not give the ultimate answers, but it shows the problematic job judges have to weigh parents’ arguments that want the best for their children. I will provide a link to the document for those who like to read in-depth. Here are some interesting questions and observations of the judge in an argument on whether the children at issue will be required to get a covid vaccination:
A Real-Life Appeal, Transcript, and Results - Ayo & IkenA Look Inside of an Ayo & Iken Appeal: Good morning, and may it please the court, my name is Jason Scott Coupal from a law firm of Iowa. I represent the wife, Irene Samaniego, who is the appellant here today. Your Honor, it is the wife’s position that the court erred by summarily denying her permanent alimony, attorney’s fees, and her request for a life insurance to secure any alimony awarded. To go back, this was a case where the marriage at the time of separation had been approximately 22 years long. At the time of the trial, the marriage was about 23 years.
‘May it Please the Court’ Anatomy of an AppealWhen the matrimonial bond is broken beyond repair, and couples find themselves standing on opposite sides of a courtroom, parties often find out the hard way that a judge’s ruling isn’t always as predictable as they may assume. Whether it’s a decision on child custody, time-sharing, equitable distribution, or financial support, a plethora of factors are considered before the final chapter in the life of “Mr. and Mrs.” can come to an end. Not everyone is smiling when the gavel strikes the sound block, but in some cases, the losing party may have a valid argument that a trial judge erred in the final ruling. In that case, a complainant may request a rehearing or have the case forwarded to a district court of appeal for a review of the decision.
Ayo & Iken Recap - August 2021FLORIDA – Attorneys who choose to practice family law are a special breed. Nearly every case is a potential powder keg of emotion, ready to explode at the slightest disruption. Attorneys at the Ayo & Iken Law Firm chose this path because they have either experienced a high-conflict divorce personally or have a particular passion for protecting children and vulnerable litigants. Ayo & Iken Attorneys handle a plethora of family and criminal law cases throughout each year. Whether it is establishing paternity, time-sharing, financial support or initiating a divorce, fighting false allegation or seeking protection from domestic violence, Ayo & Iken attorneys will go to battle for their clients to achieve the desired outcome.
Should a Child’s Gender Identity be Decided by One Parent or the Courts?In recent years, gender dysphoria in prepubescent children has become a hotly contested issue, especially in high-conflict custody disputes. In some cases, children as young as 3-years-old are being told they are a different sex than the one matching their chromosomes. This has led to some parents taking drastic measures to permanently change the sex of their child. One such case in Texas made national headlines after a man refused to accept his ex-wife’s efforts to transition their son into a girl.
Deciding if Children Should Testify in Court - Rare But Sometimes NecessaryChildren will say the “darndest things,” often embarrassing mom or dad at inopportune times. Whether it’s something as benign as little Johnny suddenly blurting out a profanity picked up from an adult conversation or as catastrophic as revealing one parent’s illicit drug habit, children are unadulterated parrots. That’s why attorneys will often try to introduce children as witnesses in family law cases, because their testimony is nearly incontrovertible. However, not all parties to a case will agree, especially the judge.
Republican Senator Unexpectedly Shelves Florida Alimony Reform EffortTALLAHASSEE – Year after year, Republican lawmakers push to end permanent alimony in Florida, but due to opposition from Democrats or missed deadlines, the effort always seems to fall short. This year was supposed to be different, but in an unexpected turn of events, Sen. Joe Gruters suddenly withdrew Senate Bill 1922, dashing the hopes of permanent alimony payers
Rep. Rodriguez: ‘Gender Equality, Fairness, Time-Sharing’ Fundamental in Alimony BillTALLAHASSEE – A renewed effort to reform Florida’s antiquated alimony law is making its way through the Florida legislature and proponents of the latest bill say changes are long overdue. HB 1559 and SB 1922 are sponsored by Representative Anthony Rodriguez (R) of Miami and Senator Joe Gruters (R) of Sarasota, respectively, and are scheduled for debate in several committees this month.
Could the Fourth Attempt at Alimony Reform in Florida do the TrickTALLAHASSEE – In baseball, a third strike usually means the batter is out, but advocates for alimony reform say it’s been three balls and this time they’re hoping for a homerun, or at least a walk to first base. Senator Joe Gruters (R) of Sarasota and Representative Anthony Rodriguez (R) of Miami filed companion bills Monday, in an effort to, once again, reform Florida’s antiquated alimony rules. If adopted, the measure would completely do away with permanent alimony and force the party seeking support to demonstrate the need for bridge-the-gap, rehabilitative, or durational alimony. In addition, the courts must provide in writing the type of alimony and length of time in which will be required by the obligor. The length of any award would not exceed 50% of the length of the marriage or five years, whichever is shorter. If an obligor remarries, the recipient will no longer be able to request a modification based on the income of the obligor’s new spouse.
Is Gender Equality a One-Way Street with Time-Sharing, Child Support, and Alimony?The pejorative term “deadbeat dad” became popular in the mid-1970s, around the same time federal lawmakers passed Title IV-D, which provides states with the ability to enforce child support orders against delinquent parents. During that time, mothers were frequently granted primary custody of children in paternity cases, resulting in the vast majority of child support orders being issued against men. When fathers refused or were unable to pay the required support, they were often called deadbeat dads.
When Breastfeeding Disrupts Time-Sharing Between Fathers and InfantsBill and Sue decide to go their separate ways, but both parents agree to co-parent and equally divide time-sharing with their child. But there’s a problem; Sue wants to nurse the infant for up to a year, which would limit how much time Bill can spend creating a bond with the child.
Child’s Mental Health at Greater Risk Amid Pandemic, Especially During DivorceChildren suffer the most from divorce, but eliminating school, extracurricular activities and social interaction can cause irreparable harm to developing personalities, emotions, and behavior. I spoke with Dr. Mitchell Kroungold, a forensic psychologist, specializing in family and dependency cases and he says although most people have adapted to “the new normal,” we may not realize how much it has affected our mental health. Dr. Kroungold says, “Children are little people. Those who are normally very active in sports or extracurricular activities are becoming depressed, irritable, argumentative, and defiant.” Dr. Kroungold goes on to say, “Some of them who are developing athletes, all of the sudden, who knows what’s going to happen in terms of their athletic performance and their self-esteem, and relating to their friends…”
Man Recommends Body Cams for High Conflict Child Custody ExchangesWhen the sentence came down, the judge, she looked at Jeff and told him that she believed he shot him on purpose and that she was going to put him away to the max of what the 10, 20 Life Law would let her.
Man Fights for Freedom after Life Sentence for Accidental ShootingThen I hear her screaming. When I got around the corner, there was this big, old guy, six foot something guy. He's got Collette by both arms and she's kicking at him, trying to get away from him. That's all I see is this big old guy there, hurting my girlfriend. So I ran up and said, "Okay, let her go, let her go." I swung the gun as hard as I could and I smashed him in the head with it. The gun fired above his ear.
Courts Extend Domestic Violence Protection to Family PetsAugust 25th, 2018 is a day private security contractor Sean Corrigan will never forget. That’s when his estranged wife set fire to their Lutz, Florida home, intent on killing their five dogs in the process. Sean was working in Iraq when he received news of the fire and that his wife Brandi Corrigan was responsible. Sean had just found out his wife was cheating on him and was planning to file for divorce, but he didn’t expect the kind of terror that would follow.
Gary Dolgin is running for Circuit Judge in Hillsborough CountyYou know, a lot of people out in the public have no idea who the judicial candidates are and sometimes they just skip voting in their race. They'll come and they'll vote for president or maybe Senator or governor. By the way, there's no Senate or gubernatorial race on the ballot this year. But I always say to people out there in my humble opinion, whether I'm running for judge or not, judges are probably the most important race on the ballot because they affect your life potentially more than other people on the ballot.
Appeal Court Overturns Trial Court Ruling for not “Grossing-Up”WEST PALM BEACH – In a surprising Fourth District Court of Appeal decision, Ayo & Iken Attorney Tasha Simmonds convinced a panel of Judges to reverse a Palm Beach County Judge’s decision, granting inequitable child support in a paternity case. The paternity action was initiated in January 2019 by a North Carolina man (the petitioner), whose identity we are withholding until the final outcome of the case, in an effort to establish a time-sharing agreement with his ex-girlfriend (the respondent). As with all paternity cases in Florida, child support is determined by the combined income and percentage of time-sharing by both parents. In this case,
Judicial System Beginning to Shut Down Amid COVID-19 PandemicOn Friday, Chief Justice Charles Canady issued an administrative order that will limit almost all face-to-face legal proceedings in all 20 judicial circuits. The order suspends all criminal and civil jury trials until March 27, 2020 or until further notice by the Supreme Court. Justice Canady also authorizes local judges to conduct legal proceedings remotely. First appearance hearings and other “mission critical” court functions will continue.
Permanent Alimony Rule Remains in Effect, After Senate Snubs 2020 Reform BillMarch 4, 2020 TALLAHASSEE – Despite its relatively effortless passage through the Florida House, the 2020 alimony reform bill, HB843, failed to marshal enough attention from Senate leadership to move forward with debate. Supporters of the bill hoped to bring an end to permanent alimony and allow retirees the option to modify or stop paying alimony altogether. Although the bill was not gender specific, opponents of the measure, like the Florida Bar and Florida National Organization for Women believed its passage would overwhelmingly harm women. Consequently, Democrats and Republicans were divided over the proposition, with Republicans voting in favor of reform.
Alimony Reform is Headed to the House Floor, But What Are its Chances in 2020?TALLAHASSEE – There is a lot of confusion with this year’s attempt at reforming alimony in Florida. Just six other states, including Florida, still have permanent alimony, but for some reason lawmakers in Tallahassee just can’t seem to get it past the finish line. So, what are its chances in 2020? HB843 passed its final hurdle on Wednesday and now it’s headed to the House floor for debate. The Bill’s sponsor Alex Andrade (R) from Pensacola is optimistic, but he told one news outlet that his optimism might be “naïve.” Despite his personal concerns, he says he’s grown so passionate about the issue that he’ll most likely present it again next year, if it ultimately fails.
Alimony Reform Bill Moves to House Judiciary Committee After Another VictoryTALLAHASSEE – House Bill 843 made its way through the second phase of review Tuesday, leaving just one more committee hurdle before heading to the House floor. Several Florida residents and expert witnesses traveled to Tallahassee to give public testimony in support and in opposition of the Bill, which would essentially do away with permanent alimony in Florida, but Bridge-the-Gap, Rehabilitative and Durational would remain in effect.
Alimony Reform Bill Clears First Hurdle Without Bi-Partisan SupportSo we have just come out of our committee meeting with the Civil Justice Committee on the Alimony Reform Bill, which was presented by the house, HBA 43. I'm here with John, who's going to tell us a little bit about how he perceived the meeting, and it looks like that it has passed at least this juncture. So John, tell me a little bit how you feel about that?
2020 Florida Alimony Reform BillLast month, House Republicans Robert “Alex” Andrade, Spencer Roach and Anthony Sabatini introduced HB 843, in another attempt to reform alimony laws in Florida. On January 13th, Senator Kelli Stargel joined fellow Republicans by introducing her own version of the alimony reform bill, SB 1832.
Declaring 2A Sanctuaries and Florida Gun LawsLast year I interviewed Ayo and Iken attorney Bruce Przepis to discuss Florida gun laws and recent proposals by county and city officials to declare their jurisdictions a second amendment sanctuary district. We had an opportunity to interview Hernando County commissioner Steve Champion regarding his proposal, which received unanimous support by all five commissioners on December 17th. Hernando County joins Citrus Lake, Sarasota and Wakulla counties in adopting the measure. But the language varies from county to county. There is even talk of refusing to obey the red flag laws and proposing an option for constitutional carry. That basically means there are no restrictions or permits required to carry a firearm openly or concealed.
Woman Finds Alienated Father After 44 Year SearchHi, I’m Tom Lemons with the Ayo & Iken Report. Today, we have Dawn McCarty, she is the chairperson of the National Parenting Organization, a chapter here in Florida. And she’s here to talk to me today about some of the things and some of the work she’s doing here in the state to try to correct and bring awareness to laws that just aren’t working equally among parents. And she has a few other things that she’s going to do. She’s going to tell us a personal story of her own that really drove her to enter this type of work. And we’re going to talk about some other things. So Dawn, thank you for joining us today.
Founder of First Battered Women’s Shelter Criticizes IndustryToday, we have a very special guest on the Ayo and Iken Report. A woman who has spent a lifetime battling radical feminism, and she actually established the very first domestic violence shelter in the world. Please welcome all the way from London, England, author and activist Erin Pizzey. So Erin, thank you so much again for joining us. First I just want to start by, can you tell us just briefly a little bit about your history, because we have a lot of people in the United States know who you are, but there are some who do not and they would love to know a little bit about your history. Erin Pizzey: Well, I think the most important point about why I ended up working and creating a refuge, was because as a child, both my parents fought all the time. They were very dysfunctional and verbally and emotionally extremely violent. And I always used to think to myself, as a child, “If I have a girl, first of all, I don’t want to be like them. And secondly, I want to make it possible for children not to have to go through this.” And so I was married and I was living in Hammersmith, London with two children and a dog and a cat. And I became very interested in the emerging women’s movement, which had actually come from America, and it was created in Washington by a small group of women who set out, who had originally been in the South of America fighting against apartheid in schools.
Lawmakers in Tallahassee Take Another Shot at Reforming AlimonyTALLAHASSEE – An unexpected development has brought a glimmer of hope to thousands of obligors who are trapped in what some lawmakers argue is long-overdue change to the rules of alimony in Florida. For decades unfair practices and antiquated statutory laws have devoured the livelihoods of estranged former breadwinners, with no end in sight. Several previous attempts failed to make it past committee, due to opposition leaders and groups who believe long-term alimony is an entitlement for post-divorce survivors. But a lot has changed since the last effort earlier this year and lawmakers are now receiving backing from both sides of the aisle, as a new group of proponents are taking a more diplomatic and rational approach to gain bi-partisan support.
Heartbreaking Documentary Reveals Millions of Abandoned ParentsI'm Tom Lemons, and this is the Ayo and Iken Report. Currently, there are over 25 million parents erased from their children in North America alone. That according to Erasing Families Impact Campaign and presented in a new documentary, Erasing Family. Today, we have Director Ginger Gentile all the way from Los Angeles, California, who will tell us more about the film and the trauma that families endure when children are forced to erase one of their parents.
When Domestic Disputes Turn CriminalDomestic violence affects people of all ages, gender, races, religions, sexual orientation, and socioeconomic backgrounds. When relationships begin to fail, emotions may run high, which often leads to threatening behavior or acts of violence. Depending on the severity of one's actions, the consequences could result in civil action or criminal charges. Ayo and Iken Attorney Howard Ellzey is here with us today and he'll give us some insight into what things to avoid and what to do if you are accused of domestic violence. I'm Tom Lemons and this is the Ayo and Iken Report.
Alimony Reform Advocates Poised to Strike Again in 2020TALLAHASSEE – One of the most contentious elements of a divorce, aside from child custody issues, is who gets what and how much alimony should someone be obligated to pay. Child support still has its quirks in Florida, but at least there is a formula by which litigants can estimate the amount a non-custodial parent should pay. But alimony, on the other hand, has basically no boundaries and a judge, essentially, decides the amount and length of obligations on a case by case basis. Let’s compare a few of the best and worse states around the country for alimony – best and worse – depending on who is the payer and recipient are.
Attorney Explains How Mental Health Issues Affect Family CourtAccording to the National Institute of Mental Health, nearly one in five Americans live with varying degrees of mental illness. When substance abuse and mental illness are combined, it can have a devastating effect, not only for the user but for their loved ones as well. Either factor can strain a relationship to the point of divorce. And when that happens, attorneys find themselves caught between doing what’s best for their client and finding solutions to help the underlying issues. Ayo and Iken attorney Crystal Phillips is with us today, and she’ll talk about these issues and how women are affected by divorce and child custody. I’m Tom Lemons and this is the Ayo and Iken Report.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month – Know the FactsDuring the month of October, domestic violence (DV) victims join supporters and advocates to raise awareness and hold fundraising events for those who have suffered familial or intimate partner abuse. In addition to private funding, federal, state and local governments provide most of the financial aid to qualified non-profits, which usually come in the form of grants. In addition to non-profits, the federal government also provides money to courts and law enforcement agencies for specialized resources, training, and to expand facilities. Despite these resources being available for nearly 26 years, there is still a lot of confusion as to who are considered victims and what defines an act of domestic abuse. There are several studies that provide varying statistics on domestic violence, but depending on who you ask, the numbers can be vastly different.
Ayo & Iken Recap October 2019Ayo & Iken Attorney Jason Ponder recently closed the books on a case where the client was expecting to pay a shocking amount of alimony and child support. Thanks to Ponder’s exceptional mediation skills, which is one of his strong points, he decided to try and negotiate a much lower obligation for his client. Ponder says his client’s attorney was asking for a whopping $15,000 per month in combined support. Ponder told his client, “Lets see what’s driving the other side,” and sure enough, the children turned out to be his soon to be ex-wife’s most important issue, not money. After a full day of mediation, Ponder was able to negotiate his client’s obligation from $15,000 to $7,000, and finally to just $1,300 per month in child support. And in the end, the pair agreed to split the equity in their home evenly.
LGBTQ Cases – A Discussion with Attorney Jason CoupalUntil recently, family law cases involving same sex couples was a complex area of practice, not only for the client but for attorneys and judges alike. Today we have Ayo & Iken attorney, Jason Coupal, who specializes in same sex divorce and custody cases and he’ll give us some insight into how the courts are becoming more familiar with the LGBTQ community. Jason is also passionate about legal history, so we’ll talk about the differences in common and civil law, as well as other judicial systems around the world. I’m Tom lemons and this is the Ayo and Iken Report.
More Women Recognize a War on Men in a “Woman’s World”The most common aphorism within the men’s rights movement is “The pendulum has swung the other way” or some variation of the adage. Feminism in the 1970s and 80s brought about substantial change for women’s rights, especially in the workplace, but many say men’s rights are now being trampled by progressive ideology, social justice, the #MeToo movement, and radical feminism. After the Violence Against Women Act was passed in 1994, men began noticing drastic disparity in the family court system.
Are Father’s Rights Advocates Dangerous to Women, Minorities and LGBTQ Community?What is the “agenda” of fathers’ rights groups? There are literally hundreds if not thousands of websites and social media sites around the world that provide a platform for men to share experiences. Are feminists suggesting that men have no right to free speech? Do they, like women and minorities, not have the right to advocate when there are signs of injustice?
George Zimmerman Speaks Out About “Red Flag Laws”Owning firearms in the United States has become nearly as offensive to some citizens as proclaiming to have voted for President Donald Trump, and the more we hear news of mass shootings the more likely gun owners and Second Amendment supporters will be portrayed as society’s villains. But is politicizing mass casualties the answer to ending domestic terror? Are more stringent background checks going to prevent would-be murderers from carrying out a massacre? Would allowing a private citizen the power to decide if a person mentally stable enough to possess firearms a sensible way to prevent theoretical carnage?
Who Decides the Fate of Your Children in Dependency Court?According to information provided by the Florida Guardian Ad Litem Foundation, the program has represented over 200,000 children since it was established over 35 years ago. The Guardian Ad Litem program, or GAL, is made up of over 10,000 volunteers who represent abused, neglected and abandoned children in dependency cases. Each of Florida’s 20 Judicial Circuits operates an independent branch of the GAL program. According to the latest statistics, GAL has represented over 39,792 children, so far this year. Records indicate that the program received $52,403,790 in funding for 2019-2020 and that CASA, a national organization that supports and promotes court-appointed advocates for abused or neglected children, has provided funding in the past.
2019 Ayo & Iken Scholarship Recipients AnnouncedFor the past 6 years, Ayo & Iken has awarded scholarships to high school students. We are proud to announce two more winners of the Ayo & Iken Children of Divorce Scholarships. High school students that part of a separated or divorced household, where the parents successfully co-parent are invited to write an essay discussing how their parent successfully navigated those waters and ended up being great examples of parenting skills.
Here at Springstead High School in Spring Hill, Florida, where it's grad night here for hundreds of students just like those across the nation who are preparing to make decisions that could affect their entire life. Friends and family filled the bleachers to show their support for hundreds of students that accomplished the first of what is hoped are many lifetime achievements that will guide them for years to come. And while the colors flew high and patriots pledged their allegiance, proud parents anxiously waited to hear their son or daughter's name to be called and watched them cross the stage in a fleeting moment of glory that will only happen once in a lifetime.
Pro-Choice Activists March at Lake Eola ParkThe Ayo & Iken Report was in Orlando last weekend where a large group of pro-choice activists marched from Lake Eola Park to City Hall, in support of women’s rights. A smaller group of pro-life supporters, comprised of several physicians and members of the Orlando Republican Executive Committee also converged in the area, where they held a prayer vigil Saturday evening and protested the opposition’s march on Sunday. Florida State Representative Anna Eskamani tells the Ayo & Iken Report that infanticide doesn’t exist and it’s “illegal.” She goes on to explain, “…that type of rhetoric is inflammatory, inaccurate, and fully designed to continue to perpetuate what are myths around abortion access.” Orange County Republican Executive Activist Committee Chair Todd Catella says he is uncompromising when it comes to life. “I’m here today to defend and protect life, and also to support the president’s agenda. Donald J. Trump is 100% pro-life, and the Republican party is 100% pro-life. So, we are here today defending the unborn, those that have rights that aren’t listened to.”
Who Wants Instant Citizenship? Who Wants Free Grant Money? Just Ask VAWAThat’s right, instead of walking thousands of miles in dangerous caravans, throwing your children over 30’ walls, or being cramped in a Chinese shipping container, let the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) pave your way to instant citizenship. That’s just one of many benefits included in H.R. 6545, the resolution that passed the Democrat led House on April 4th.
EYE ON YOUR FUTURE: Marital vs. Non-Marital AssetsIt is really easy to do when you are in love. You just got married and your new husband or wife has moved into the home you owned before the marriage. It is death ‘til you part so discussions move toward putting your new spouse on the home’s title. Then discussions turn to pooling finances together into one pot to make it easier to start a family. So that inheritance from your grandparents and the settlement from the car accident you received is moved into a joint love nest.
Ayo & Iken Report - April 5th, 2019Hi, I’m Tom Lemons, Host of the Ayo & Iken Report. A new series on family law issues around the state of Florida. Spring is here and legislators in Tallahassee are turning up the heat on alimony reform, equal child custody and other family law issues. Anyone who’s experienced a contentious divorce knows that the rules aren’t always black and white. And sometimes, the outcome isn’t quite what you expected. In March of this year, Republicans in both the House and Senate filed separate alimony reform bills that are currently making their way through various legislative committees.
New Alimony Bill 2019
Lawmakers File Family Law Bills Ahead of Legislative SessionLawmakers are filing bills at a fast and furious pace to be addressed as the Florida legislative session kicks off March 5, including two key proposed bills concerning family law. Florida House and Senate members will be considering bills that if passed would have ramifications on court cases involving children, as well as establish new rules for determining guardianship and jurisdictional issues.
Alimony Reform Group Outlines Hopes for 2019 BillYears of frustration is not stopping a group from launching a renewed fight for alimony reform in Florida this legislative session. Dozens of alimony payors and reform activists met for a statewide conference held by the Florida Family Law Reform Political Action Committee in Kissimmee on Feb. 2 to discuss a new bill they hope to see filed in 2019. PAC members from across the state came to show support with participants from South Florida to Pensacola in attendance. Currently, the search is on to find sponsors in the Florida House and Senate of a bill drafted by the committee that would bring about major changes to alimony laws in Florida. PAC officials urged the crowd to contact their elected officials and encourage them to support alimony reform. “We have been through a six year journey to try to reform the archaic alimony laws in Florida. We are working hard to keep alimony in place, but eliminate the abusive parts of the law – especially permanent alimony,” said PAC Chairman Michael McAuliffe.
Human Trafficking in FloridaHuman trafficking is the forced exploitation of a person within or across borders through the abuse of power or position by the trafficker. The first law in the United States regarding human trafficking was put into place in 2000 and was known as the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act. Human trafficking is broadly separated into labor and sexual exploitation, with the most common forms of human trafficking being:
Year in Review: A Banner 2018 for Ayo & IkenIt has been a year of impact at Ayo & Iken on behalf of our clients, and a year of growth for the firm as we continue to provide top notch legal services to Floridians across the state. Join us in reflecting on 2018 as it has truly been a remarkable year for all of us. New Horizons: The year ended with a bang for the firm with plans to open a new Ayo & Iken office in Ft. Lauderdale. The new office will be led by Attorney Lee Feinberg, who in September entered his 26th year practicing family law. Feinberg, who is also a Florida Supreme Court certified mediator, will be practicing out of the South Florida Business Journal building at 6400 N. Andrews, in Fort Lauderdale. Feinberg’s level of experience and aggressiveness representing his clients will be a great asset to South Florida. Righting a Wrong: Orlando Attorney Jason Ponder
2018 Ayo & Iken Holiday PartyIt is that time of year again. The Ayo & Iken legal team, family, and friends travel from various locations in Florida to spend time together celebrating the holiday season. It was great to see everyone in one place and have a chance to get to know family members. Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah to all! 2019 will be a great year helping clients throughout Florida and working together as a team!
Parental Kidnapping Becoming MainstreamIt has happened again and will continue to happen. It is sad but all too common for a child custody case to become national news as one parent alleges the other parent kidnapped their child. This time Tampa made national news as a young mother wept in front of television cameras saying the father of her 3-year-old son had kidnapped the boy and taken him to Lebanon, a country that does not recognize international laws concerning rights of parents to their children in the United States.
Alimony Reform in the Midterm ElectionWith many expecting a new debate to emerge in 2019 in the Florida legislature over alimony reform, candidates on both sides of the controversial issue won and lost primaries Tuesday, while the Republican Party’s primary winner for governor had the endorsement of an influential pro-reform movement in the state. U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Palm Coast, shocked many by taking out longtime Florida politician and Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam easily winning with 56 percent of the vote to Putnam’s 34 percent. Numerous pundits have touted an endorsement from President Donald Trump as putting DeSantis over the edge.
New Florida Laws - Marriage, Divorce, Custody, & Military - Ayo & IkenOur Ayo & Iken attorneys are reacting to three new laws which took effect July 1 that will alter the landscape of family law dealing with child care for deploying military members, equitable distribution of marital assets, and the banning of underage marriage barring extenuating circumstances.
Alimony Tax Law Deadline ApproachingAre you considering a divorce with a major sticking point being alimony? If so, it is imperative that you pay attention to changes to federal tax laws effective Jan. 1 which could drastically affect your finances if you file for divorce after Dec. 31. Our Ayo & Iken attorneys, area tax professionals, and statewide alimony reform advocates are eyeing the portion of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act signed by President Donald Trump in December 2017 that removes the ability of an alimony payor to deduct said alimony from his or her taxes, and an alimony recipient to report received alimony as income after 2018.
20 Ways to Spot the Psychopath in Your LifeThe condition of psychopathy may be one of the most misunderstood disorders, although it is frequently represented in movies, books, and other media. Psychopathy is a complex issue. According to the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, psychopathy is a subset of antisocial personality disorder. Others have argued that psychopathy is a completely separate condition. In either case, it is estimated that between .2 percent and 2 percent of the population fit the criteria for a psychopath, and
Claudia Blackwell for JudgeST. PETERSBURG – It is with great pride and excitement that the law firm of Ayo & Iken is supporting our St. Petersburg-based Attorney Claudia Elizabeth Blackwell in her campaign for election as Circuit Court judge in Florida’s Sixth Judicial Circuit’s Group 9 serving Pinellas and Pasco counties. Ms. Blackwell is the second member of the Ayo & Iken legal team that has run for judicial office. Attorney Blackwell has long been a key member of the Ayo & Iken team as a stalwart to her clients in our St. Petersburg office serving them with professionalism and dedication. As a member of the Florida Bar since 1995, Attorney Blackwell has more than 20 years of legal experience in Florida including regular court appearances and the completion of more than 20 trials. Ayo & Iken partners Alberto Ayo, Howard Iken and Jeana Vogel are extremely excited to support Attorney Blackwell’s candidacy for the Circuit Court bench.
How to Catch a Sex Predator—Sex Sting Operations UncoveredIn 2017, Florida police arrested 277 people in a sex sting operation. Those arrested included pharmacists, police officers and doctors. The sex sting operation, known as “Operation No Tricks, No Treats,” ran from October 10th to October 15th, and was spearheaded by the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, although several law enforcement agencies took part in the operation. False advertisements were posted on social media sites and websites, with the law enforcement officers posing as underage girls and boys on the Internet. Of the 277 arrested, 209 of them were charged with soliciting undercover detectives, while 51 were charged with prostitution on the Internet. The remaining 17 were charged with other offenses.
Ayo & Iken Recap - May 2018Our dedicated group of attorneys at Ayo & Iken continue to make a difference in their clients lives on a day-to-day basis tackling the toughest legal situations. It has been a busy time for the firm as the cases we have tackled have run the gamut from dealing with serious child time-sharing issues to fighting for a client unfairly paying alimony. Many of our cases are highly emotional and handled with the utmost compassion and professionalism for our clients. Here is what we have been up to in recent weeks:
Social Media: The Courts Are WatchingSocial media’s domination of society is having an effect on the court system as well and experts are now starting to quantify its impact on the legal system and how attorneys will use it to benefit their clients in both criminal and civil law. Family law is no different as our Ayo & Iken attorneys will tell you those social media posts you throw up on Facebook, Instagram, or the like, are increasingly being seen in court.
Difficulties Divorcing a NarcissistAs American writer Jonathan Franzen wrote, “nice people don’t necessarily fall in love with nice people.” If you have been married to a narcissist for any length of time, you are probably painfully aware of this fact. Although almost all of us exhibit narcissistic qualities from time to time, full-blown narcissistic personality disorder is believed to affect about 8 percent of men in American and about 5 percent of women. And if you think it is tough being married to a narcissist, you better put on your crash helmet if you are thinking of divorcing one. In fact, divorcing a narcissist can difficult.
Dads In Divorce: Now More Than Just A WalletDads are considered an important part of children’s lives, now more than ever. A shift in society has finally filtered down to the divorce process. No longer is the secondary role of “visiting parent” a guaranteed outcome for dads during the divorce process. Thanks to a new way society looks at men, more flexible gender roles, the influx of new, younger judges on the bench, and a fresh generation of family law attorneys, dads are no longer considered a non-essential appendage to the family unit.
Bad Cops Are Not Held Accountable—And Majority of Police Officers AgreeIt has been more than three years since Michael Brown was killed by a police officer in Ferguson, MO, leading to protests which bordered on riots and calls for justice. Since that time there have been similar incidents across the United States. Many police officers now say their colleagues simply are not doing their jobs properly, and that when they do not do their jobs, they are not held accountable. In fact, a survey found that more than half of the officers surveyed—53 percent—said their department’s disciplinary process was not fair, and nearly three-quarters of those surveyed claimed officers who “consistently do a poor job,” are not held accountable for the poor performance. This particular survey included 7,917 police officers in 54 different police departments. Some of the responses came after five police officers were shot by a sniper in Dallas. To some extent, the attitudes of the officers toward Black Lives Matter and other protesters, as dependent on the race of the officer being surveyed, and included the following results:
Expansion of Custody Rights for Deployed Military MembersAs an effort to widen control military service members being deployed have over issues concerning their children is sailing through the Florida House and Senate, opposition from the Family Law Section of the Florida Bar has emerged. House Bill 1217, known as the Uniform Deployed Parents Custody and Visitation Act, sponsored by Rep. Larry Metz, R-Groveland, and a sister bill in the Senate, SB 1598, sponsored by Sen. Kathleen Passidomo, R-LaBelle, have both sailed through committee in both chambers. The act which has been enacted in 13 states, provides for more parameters for parents deploying for service to find agreements for their child’s care. The sweeping new 19-page bill would allow for a deploying person to enter into quick agreements for child time-sharing and custody issues with the other parent.
Valentines Day and the Rise in Divorce CasesABC Action News interviews Attorney Howard Iken about Valentines Day and what it means to the numbers of divorce filings in Florida. Attorney Iken shares statistics of cases filed by Ayo and Iken.
Ayo and Iken - Florida Family Law Legislative RoundupA family law bill banning child marriage that seemed to be on its way to an easy ride through the legislature after a unanimous passing in the Florida Senate became a lightning rod for controversy in the House as members took up its sister bill. SB 140, sponsored by Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto, R-Naples, which easily passed through several committees and won a 37 to 0 vote in the Senate this week, states that a marriage license may not be issued to a person under the age of 18.
Ayo and Iken RecapThings have been very busy recently at the law office of Ayo & Iken as our attorneys have been tackling some tough issues. Our attorneys dealt with serious child custody issues, advocated for a client at trial, and had victory in a parental rights case that is very rare in Florida. Also, one of our attorneys has achieved the honor of also teaching at a local college and we welcomed a new legal mind to the firm with decades of experience practicing law. Here is a look at what we have been up to:
Florida Legislative ReportIt has been a busy first week legislative session in Florida for several family law bills that have been proposed in both House and Senate. Surprisingly, it is still legal for teens under the age of 18 to be married in Florida, but that may change with a new bill that has already breezed through committees to the Senate floor. SB 140, sponsored by Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto, R-Naples, has easily passed through the Judiciary; Children, Family and Elder Affairs; and rules committees in unanimous votes. The bill states that a marriage license may not be issued to a person under the age of 18. The bill would also mandate that parties to a marriage file a written and signed affidavit with the county court judge or clerk of the circuit before a clerk can issue a marriage license. Each party would also have to provide his or her social security number for purposed of child support enforcement. If approved, the bill would take effect July 1. Here are some other family law bills making their way through committee:
Alimony and the New Tax PlanAs everyone knows President Trump has signed into law the new tax bill. This tax bill has been a frequent subject of congress, the media, and various advocates. The change that most affects many Ayo and Iken clients is the new tax treatment for alimony payments. The change promises to effect future alimony negotiations, future court cases, and decisions whether to reopen past alimony judgments. This is a decision of national significance and will affect alimony in every single state. This change represents a huge shift in the treatment and calculation of alimony. It will be years before “equilibrium” is restored in the way we negotiate, litigate, and calculate alimony. As with all new cases there will be arguments over interpretation for certain situations.
DUI Arrests Spike During the Holiday SeasonIt is definitely that time of year again; there is a chill in the air in many areas, and the time for eggnog, pumpkin pie, holiday feasts and visits with family and friends is just around the corner. Most of us are in a flurry of buying gifts for loved ones and decorating our homes in a festive manner. Along with all these holiday tasks, many of us are also drinking more than we might normally do. According to one body of research, 16 percent of adults admitted to drinking more than normal during the holiday season, and more than half of all high-risk impaired drivers reported drinking more between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, as compared to the remainder of the year.
Guide to Navigating the Holidays for the Newly DivorcedSince the beginning of the 20th century, divorce rates have steadily risen, making an even greater leap in the 1970’s when no-fault divorce was implemented. Some believe that making divorce an easier process actually strengthens marriages by ensuring it is a personal choice. Others argue few of us have the skills needed to work out the day-to-day difficulties which inevitably arise in most all marriages. While it is true that the actual dissolution of a marriage is a legal act, it is most often accompanied with some level of emotional trauma, and can be painful for all parties involved, including spouses, children, and even extended family members.
Just How Racist Is Our Criminal Justice System?Years ago, during a debate, then-Senator Barack Obama claimed that blacks and whites are arrested and convicted at very different rates, and even receive very different sentences for the same crimes. Senator Hillary Clinton then discussed the “disgrace of a criminal justice system” that incarcerates a disproportionate number of African-Americans as compared to whites. These statements appear fairly plausible for the time, considering in 2006 37.5 percent of all state and federal prisoners were African-American.
When the Cloud Met Hurricane Irma - Ayo & Iken Was Prepared!When you run a small to mid-sized legal practice, business continuity is everything. For a firm like Ayo & Iken, which has established itself in Florida, with a good market position and a practice that’s growing at a respectable rate, the one thing that can truly hurt the firm’s bottom line is a business interruption. Even small interruptions can drain finances enough to cause concern, while major, catastrophic events can easily be the death knell of a practice if its leaders have not planned ahead and taken steps to set up automatic business continuity processes. The recent spate of natural disasters around our country has had a serious potential to cripple businesses, and has truly put cloud technologies to the test. Ayo & Iken is a prime example of how operating in the cloud can make all the difference when business continuity is threatened by matters beyond your control.
New Child Time-Sharing LegislationChild time-sharing in Florida could be a hot topic for attorneys and their clients in the coming months as one new law concerning the issue has already taken effect and another kicks off Jan. 1. Florida House Bill 329 became law in July and deals with visitation of children whose parent is in a drug or alcohol recovery residence. Statute 61.13 now prohibits a time-sharing plan from requiring or being interpreted to require visitation at a recovery residence overnight, specifically between the hours of 9 p.m. and 7 a.m., “unless the court makes a specific finding that such visitation is in the best interest of the child.”
“Till death do us part,” unless Facebook causes you to divorce firstABC Action News interviews Attorney Howard Iken on how Facebook can cause divorce. A study by a law firm indicates 30% of divorces may have been started by the involvement of Facebook. Mr. Iken shares the experience of his firm, Ayo and Iken. He also discusses some of the reasons that Facebook may be to blame.
A New Political Action Committee Emerges to Push for Alimony ReformThe death of an alimony reform bill this past legislative session seemed like a blow to hopes for changes to the law, but there is a new political action committee that recently held its first statewide meeting in the Tampa Bay area that says the bill’s demise is a good thing and the movement for change has never been stronger. It may take some time however as the newly established all-volunteer Florida Family Law Reform Political Action Committee Inc. readily admits that they believe they do not have a friend in the governor’s mansion who will sign meaningful alimony reform legislation. So the plan is to forgo trying to undertake seeking a sponsor for a new bill for the 2018 legislative session and instead embark on a fundraising and lobbying blitz for next year with an eye toward filing a new bill in 2019 after Gov. Rick Scott leaves office due to term limits.
14 Mistakes Men Make in DivorceWhen a person is in the middle of an emotional time, it can be difficult to make good, long-term decisions. A divorce is the very definition of an emotional time, and plenty of divorced people have lived to regret decisions made in the heat of the moment, or hasty decisions made simply to put an end to contentiousness. While both men and women can make mistakes which come back to haunt them during a divorce, the following mistakes are those most commonly made by divorcing men:
Ayo and Iken RecapIt has been another impactful first half of the year for the Ayo & Iken law firm as our attorneys continue to fight for their clients facing difficult times, dealing with everything from freeing a client unfairly jailed to keeping a loving father connected with his child after her mother left to another state with their baby. It has also been year so far of growth for the firm as we prepare a new office in New Port Richey and welcome a new attorney. Our staff has been busy as well with our paralegals receiving kudos online from customers appreciative of their hard work, and taking part in charitable events to benefit the community. Please take some time to read about what our dedicated group of attorneys and staff has been up to:
Want a Bad Idea? Stay Together for the KidsDinnertime is increasingly strained and the kids are pretty sure mom and dad don’t like one another all that much. There’s no small talk going on, no laughing at private jokes, no acknowledgement of one another’s days, even the special ones. Conversations at dinner—and pretty much everywhere else—are mostly the children talking to the parents, and the parents talking to one another only about the children. The parents may live in the same house, but they might as well be living in different countries. Consider the following statistics about married parents—who wish they weren’t:
Ayo and Iken Expanding in Pasco CountyAyo and Iken is proud to announce our expansion in the Pasco County area. We have begun preparations on our new office at 4807 US Hwy 19 and expect to move our client service department within the next few weeks. After that we will carefully plan to move our New Port Richey legal team in a way that minimizes inconvenience to our clients. The New Port Richey office was our first location in what has become almost a state-wide law firm. We opened our office in 2005 at what is still our current location – just across the street from the West Pasco Government Center. Over the years our firm has grown. The number of cases and clients went up significantly.
15 Signs Your Spouse Has Checked Out of the MarriageAll marriages go through ups and downs and highs and lows. After all, living with another person, meshing your lives together, is not always easy, no matter how much you love one another. Particularly when you have children, you can get so busy with their activities, your work, and keeping the household running, that you may miss the signs that tell you your spouse is not just in a lull, but has truly checked out of the marriage.
New Florida Bill on CustodyA bill has been filed Jan. 30 that could bring about a major change in how the state and courts handle the mission of enhancing parenting time-sharing opportunities. Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, filed Senate Bill 590, which his office says “offers an optional default visitation schedule for non-custodial parents.” SB 590 would add language to Florida law that governs the handling of child support by the Florida Department of Revenue. If passed, when people meet with the revenue department to set up their child support per his or her Title IV-D order, they would also be presented with an optional child visitation plan for unmarried parents.
15 Mistakes Many Women Make in a DivorceSome have likened divorce to the psychological equivalent of a triple bypass—painful, complicated, and with a difficult recovery period. Because many of those who go through a divorce are in an intensely emotional state, mistakes can be made—in some cases, devastating, long-lasting, eternally regrettable mistakes. Overwhelmingly the mistakes made by women are primarily financial issues. Here are the top 15 mistakes many women tend to make when they divorce:
Ayo and Iken 2016 Year in ReviewIt has been a fascinating year for our exciting team of attorneys who have challenged themselves on many fronts for their clients. They have tackled it all from a groundbreaking same-sex marriage case to a heart-wrenching fight for the safety of a teenage boy. We even had two of our clients get married on the front porch of our Tampa office due to their affection for one of our star attorneys; the story is below. I hope you enjoy the highlights of an amazing year at our firm and make your way to the bottom of this recap for some key advice from our legal team:
Divorce DayIn a broadcast interview, Attorney Howard Iken discusses what is rapidly becoming known as Divorce Day – the beginning of the year. Attorneys are beginning to see January 2nd as the start of divorce season, also the busiest time of the year for family law attorneys. Mr. Iken talks about the most common reasons for divorce, the costs that many clients will face, and the fact that January 2nd is becoming synonymous with the Black Friday of Divorce.
Enjoying Families and Children During the Holiday SeasonOnce again, the holiday season is upon us. Perhaps you were one of those who navigated Thanksgiving with family so successfully that you are not in the least concerned about Christmas. Or, perhaps you either didn’t see family on Thanksgiving, or you did, but the family navigation was a bit less successful, therefore you are headed into the Christmas season filled with apprehension. As a nation, 92 percent of us celebrate Christmas in some way. Only about half of us see Christmas as a religious holiday, while a third see it as a cultural holiday. While many things about Christmas have probably changed for you over the years, some things have not changed as much as you might think:
Guide to Telling Your Children About DivorceOne of the hardest things parents may have to do is to tell their children they are divorcing. While very young children may not really understand what is happening, the majority of children often feel as though the divorce is their fault. Teens, however, are more likely to hold their feelings inside, sometimes acting on the surface as though it doesn’t matter one way or the other to them. Whatever the age of your children, how and when you tell them about an impending divorce is crucial. The following tips can help you tell your children about your divorce in the best way possible, under the circumstances.
Island of Palau Featured in Latest Ayo and Iken CaseOur Ayo & Iken Attorney Jennifer Schulte is in the news for her role in tirelessly representing the mother of a runaway teen. The case of 17-year-old Aage Jorgensen drew international headlines early this year and again this week in the Sun Sentinel newspaper. Aage’s case grabbed interest internationally after authorities said his father, an attorney then practicing in South Florida, kicked Aage out of his car on a highway side during an argument. The father was eventually arrested on a charge of abandoning the then 16-year-old boy, but prosecutors declined to move forward. Aage later was found in March sleeping in a Vero Beach hotel stairwell and taken into custody. That same day the boy escaped from Florida Department of Children and Families custody and remained missing for months.
Wedding Bliss in the Air at Ayo & IkenWedding bliss was in the air at our Ayo & Iken Tampa office last week as Attorney Jeana Vogel for the first time in her career presided over nuptial vows for two of her clients. Vogel’s clients, Aleydis Silva Bautista and Kyle Seeger, had been planning to get married next year but the time on Friday turned out to be right.
Same Sex Parental Rights ExtendedOur New Port Richey Attorney Allison Belcher has won a major victory in the cutting edge legal area of same-sex marriage in Florida by securing parental rights for our client Kristen Ruckey. In an Oct. 11 order, Pasco County Circuit Judge Alicia Polk ruled that Ruckey is the legal parent of her two children, who were born of a legal same-sex marriage in 2010, in Connecticut. The case is a first in Florida and breaks legal ground as follows:
Ayo and Iken RecapIn this recap of a busy September for Ayo & Iken, we will take you through the many facets of what our attorneys have been up to from New Port Richey to Tampa and Orlando. Our attorneys handled a groundbreaking same-sex marriage case, a heartbreaking case of a child runaway, fought to protect an abused child, and taken on a case that has international implications. Our attorneys will also discuss future cases, some legal trends they are spotting, and offer a little advice in dealing with domestic violence injunctions. Here’s a look at what our legal team has been up to:
What Happens Now? - Same Sex Marriage & DivorceIt is easy enough for congress to pass laws. More difficult, but still relatively easy is the process by which the courts interpret those laws. The process of interpretation is the way we have arrived in the current state of affairs for gay and lesbian couples. But then we have to deal with the pink elephant in the room: what is the exact meaning of everything that has transpired? A feature of our society is the process by which we test, refine, and challenge laws and court decisions for the ultimate end game of reaching a clear mutual understanding of societal rules. For gay and lesbian couples the process of reaching that clear mutual understanding has a decade or more to play out.
Are Doctors Doomed to Divorce?Ask anyone about the divorce rate for doctors, and you are likely to hear that doctors do, in fact, get divorced far more often than other professionals—and far more often than the general population. If you happen to be speaking about female physicians in particular, then that information is, at least partially, correct. Clichés to the contrary, divorce is actually less common among male physicians than for other professions.
Women Initiate Divorces More than Men Studies SayAn oft-used joke among comedians goes something like this: “Do you know why more women file for divorce than men? Because women know murder is illegal.” While not all that funny, in fact women do initiate divorces more often than men, for a variety of reasons.In a study conducted in 1956, the wife initiated nearly 67 percent of those divorces. Since that time, despite changes in attitudes toward marriage, many changes in gender relations, and advancements in women’s rights, this conclusion has been repeated time after time after time.
Making Summer Timesharing WorkA few short decades ago, blended families were the exception rather than the rule. In today’s society, however, there are possibly more blended families than not. The “rules” for what constitutes a family have been rewritten, and today a family is made up of those who love and care for one another, regardless of the number of “step” and “half” siblings, which make up the family. In fact, there are so many different types of families, it has become almost impossible to quantify them. There are ways to make the transitions less bumpy, and integrate families together, particularly when summer rolls around and there are vacations and visitations to deal with.
Ayo and Iken RecapOur Ayo & Iken attorneys have been busy this month. In this recap, we will take you through the many facets of what our attorneys have been up to from New Port Richey to Tampa and Orlando. We have tried cases, handled a difficult criminal case that has garnered media attention, helped educate the community, spotted legal trends, and done some deep thinking about our legal philosophies. Here’s a look at what we have been up to:
Florida's Historic Softening of 10 20 Life LawBeginning July 1, a change will come to the “10-20-Life” mandatory minimum firearm law passed in 1999 during the first Gov. Jeb Bush administration in the wake of out-of-control violent crime statistics. The law currently mandates judges sentence defendants convicted 10 20 life law florida of committing certain specified crimes while possessing a firearm to 10 years in prison, possessing a semi-automatic/machine gun to 15 years, discharging a firearm of any type to 20 years, and discharging a gun where great bodily injury or death occurs to 25 years to life. A new bill, SB 228, passed unanimously in both the Florida House and Senate, and signed by Gov. Rick Scott, will strike aggravated assault from the list of crimes that fall under 10-20-life.
The Formula for a Successful RelationshipMost people still believe that this thing called “love” is a mysterious occurrence which happens, like a lightning bolt, out of the blue, with no rhyme or reason. Or, perhaps we want to believe in the mysterious nature of love and relationships because then we can avoid some responsibility when a relationship turns out badly.
Cohabitation No Longer a Crime in FloridaBreathe easy you Florida couples who until a week ago lived together illegally while unwed. You will not be facing up 60 days in the county clink and a $500 fine on a second-degree misdemeanor charge for co-habitation while not married. A Florida law that banned unmarried couples from living together dating back to post-Civil War Reconstruction is no more.
Ayo and Iken’s Dionne Thompson Going the Extra MileOur accounting manager Dionne Thompson has been put in “jail” to fight for a great cause. She is taking part in the Muscular Dystrophy Association’s “Lock-Up” drive and the firm of Ayo & Iken is stepping up to bail her out. It is going to take $3,500 to get her out of the clink and with the already numerous donations from us, we are going to get there. Dionne is in high spirits as she sits in her cell knowing that all of our generous donations will be going to such a worthy cause. Thanks so much to our wonderful “jailbird” Dionne, as the MDA calls those that lend their time to help. Our firm is committed to getting
What is Life REALLY Like for Juveniles Behind BarsThe juvenile justice system was actually developed almost a century ago, in response to the atrocities juveniles were subjected to in adult jails. Unfortunately, as the system developed, and there was widespread overcrowding and lack of facilities, many juveniles were, once again, placed with adults, and subjected to assault and rape.
Opponents and Supporters of Alimony Reform in FloridaIt has been another controversial path to getting an alimony reform bill on the desk of Gov. Rick Scott. Opponents and supporters of SB 668 alike are waiting with great interest to see if Scott signs a bill that is similar to one he vetoed in 2013. Scott vetoed that previous alimony bill saying he could not support a clause that made it retroactive to all alimony cases.
Facebook - “Exhibit A” in Your Florida DivorceThe popularity of reality television and social media websites has transformed our society from one that places a high value on privacy into one where complete strangers observe every facet of an individual’s life. This trend also has spread to family courts where information and photos obtained from social media sites are increasingly turning up as evidence in divorce cases. Whether the damning information is evidence of an online affair or a negative comment about a spouse, social media sites are becoming a key source of evidence in divorce cases.
Rocket Scientist's Guide to Divorce Trials
Principles of Good NegotiatingBy Attorney Howard Iken: Lets face it. People never walk in the door and hand us money just to reserve our “pleasant personalities.” After all, we are attorneys. No one really likes us outside of our own clients. But that is an essential part of being an attorney. We get things done, sometimes at the expense of other people. But part of our job is to negotiate settlements for
Not Getting Along with the Judge?By Attorney Howard Iken: There are many people that just seem to have gotten off on the wrong foot with the judge. It would be the judge got out of the wrong side of the bed that morning and immediately hated your face. You may have been caught in a lie in court. Or a judge may have had a day of annoying cases that seemed exactly like your case. Whatever the reason, if
Univision Interviews Ayo and Iken Partner Alberto AyoAttorney Alberto Ayo gives his legal opinion on a particularly abusive situation regarding an undocumented immigrant. Celia has a work accident at a restaurant that caused burns all over her body. The owner becomes furious after she talks of the incident and in the process discloses she works at the restaurant. It turns out the worker is an illegal immigrant and was not being paid wages required under the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act. Angry that Celia talked to others about her accident, the restaurant owner hits her and ends up in jail on battery charges. Mr. Ayo discusses obligations to compensate workers fairly – regardless of their immigration status.
5 Steps to Take Towards an Amicable DivorceA divorce has the potential to be horrible, high stress, and financially destructive. But a divorce also has the potential to be smooth, low stress, positive, and financially beneficial. It all depends on how the two of you approach things. The power is in your hand to change the entire outcome of your divorce. You can make it
68% or More - Spouses that Would CheatThe percentages are startling! If there was no danger of being caught, over 68% of spouses would cheat on their significant other. The statistics indicate men and women are similar in their desire to cheat. Read our info graphic to see the statistics at a glance.
Common Law Marriage in Florida ?By Attorney Jennifer Schulte: Is Common Law Marriage a myth in Florida? Yes and No. I have had a few consultations recently in which a couple were living together and holding themselves out to their friends and community as though they were a married couple for years (or even decades) but were only lawfully married
Do Your Own Paternity TestingIn the United States individuals may utilize the services of private companies to perform paternity testing. The reasons for self-referral testing involves a myriad of circumstances. With the exception of the State of New York, no court order or physician is necessary to utilize private sector paternity testing services. The costs vary, but generally a
Committing a Crime in the Great OutdoorsIf like most other people you spend more time outdoors in the summer, it's relatively easy to run afoul of various laws related to outdoor recreational activities. Whether you're camping or fishing, venturing out on a hiking trip or picnicking at a local park, there are a number of regulations and laws you can
Immigration Scams Hit Hillsborough CountyIf you're residing in the U.S. as a non-citizen, you're at risk of being the victim of an immigration scam. Scam artists are hoping that non-citizens who have less familiarity with the English language and U.S. laws and customs will be more easy to victimize. They also prey on the hopes and dreams of
Summer Visitation Made EasySummer is approaching and along with the wistful daydreams of warmth and vibrance, there also comes the complication of daily routine shifting with the children out of school. For newly divorced parents, this change in routine can bring more than just an inconvenience, but potential chaos. Here are some general points to consider to make summer visitation a breeze:
Attorney Howard Iken Interviews George ZimmermanGeorge Zimmerman has a discussion with his Divorce Attorney – Howard Iken. Mr. Zimmerman talks about who he really is, his aspirations, and some details about his past. In particular, Mr. Zimmerman talks about his efforts and involvement with the minority community in his Florida hometown. He also talks about what life is like right now given the recent events.
Interview of Attorney Ayo on Fox 13 News - Case Involving JudgeFox 13 News Interviews Attorney Alberto Ayo on the developing domestic violence case involving Judge Eric Myers of Tampa. Mr. Ayo discusses the Petition for an Injunction Against Domestic Violence and how it took courage to file that case against such a powerful official of the court.
On The Cutting Edge of Same Sex DivorcePartner Alberto Ayo is interviewed by ABC Action News. Ayo and Iken has filed the first same sex divorce after the Florida constitutional ban on divorce was declared invalid as of midnight, January 5th. Mr. Ayo discusses how there is a huge pent up demand for same sex divorce and the attorneys at Ayo and Iken are busy responding to that demand.
Panhandling – nuisance or crime ?It’s a sunny day in Central Florida (about 100 degrees outside) and I pull up to a major intersection. In the median walking toward me a full suited firefighter holding a boot and asking passerby’s to donate to his cause. I roll my window down and hand the
Courts Striking Gay Marriage Bans . . . But What about Gay Divorce?In United States vs. Windsor, 570 U.S. 12 (2013), the United States Supreme Court struck down the portion of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) that defined marriage as a relationship between “one man and one woman as husband and wife.” Since the DOMA decision, courts in many states have struck down laws banning same sex marriage. Despite this progress in obtaining legal rights for same-sex
Bankruptcy's Impact on IRS Tax ObligationsThe Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is the most brutal of all collection agencies with powerful tools and the ability to impose staggering financial penalties unavailable to other creditors. Many parties facing tax deficiencies along with penalties and interest attempt to negotiate an offer in compromise or other resolution of their outstanding tax obligation with no success. These strategies often fail with the debtor exposed to wage garnishments, bank levies, liens on real property andother harsh collection tactics by the federal taxing agency.
Privacy & Law Enforcement Technology in Florida Drug CasesAlthough advances in communications technology have made our lives easier in many ways, government use of technology can have a darker side as evidenced by the recent scandals involving the NSA snooping on telephone calls made by American citizens and FBI use of national security letters to demand secret information from private businesses. Intrusions on privacy interests embodied in the Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable search and seizures have been methodically undermined in recent decades, but these spying techniques have been criticized by the Obama administration’s own internal review panel. A Supreme Court decision last year demonstrates how courts are struggling to balance the technological innovations that provide more effective law
The Angry Mob of Creditors at the DoorAn impatient creditor is easy to handle when there is just one or two. You tend to know exactly which debt was not paid, and when it was not paid. Perhaps the creditor is a local business, a medical office, or service provider. You may have felt guilty because there was a personal relationship. Besides, the original purchase may be staring you in the face almost every day. The mattress, furniture, or blender may be staring you in the face. You may remember buying the product or service from someone you liked and trusted. Your impatient creditor may have a name and they may be reasonably polite when they call.
Channel 10 Action News Interviews Howard IkenAttorney Howard Iken discusses peak in divorce filings at Valentine's Day each year. Each year many different effects come together to form a perfect storm of divorce filings. The holidays always bring high expectations and hard feelings. The winter break is a time of turmoil in custody and choice of school conflicts. And federal tax refunds provide the fuel to fund new divorce filings.
Setting Aside a Default in FloridaBy Attorney Howard Iken: If a lawsuit is filed and served by process server on an individual or entity, the Defendant or Respondent must file an answer within 20 days. This is a universal rule in Florida and it applies to divorce, paternity, personal injury, or
DCF Rules Against Custody in Nudist ParkA DCF contractor has prohibited foster child placements with anyone that resides in a nudist community. Fox News interviews Attorney Howard Iken for his opinion on the situation. Mr. Iken does not know of any statute that prohibits the placement of children with nudist colony residents. But Attorney Iken acknowledges that courts place great weight on the opinion of case workers and their personal prejudices.
Ayo and Iken Establishes a ScholarshipThe Law Firm of Ayo and Iken PLC establish a scholarship to recognize separated households still focused on meeting their children’s needs. We are proud to announce a cash scholarship essay contest to benefit college bound children from separated Florida households. Two $1,000 cash prizes will be offered by the attorneys at Ayo and Iken PLC to help focus attention on examples of lifelong commitment by couples who—despite being divorced—succeed in providing the support and guidance necessary for children’s academic success. With law offices across Florida, the law firm has opened the contest to students in all Florida counties who have compelling stories to tell
The Myth of the Heavy HitterBy Attorney Howard Iken: There is no doubt about it. Everyone wants the best attorney in town. They want the mythical heavy hitter that will out maneuver, out think, and out intimidate the competition. No one comes to an attorney looking to win second place. When you are talking about money, children, compensation for injuries, or property, second place does not
Football Season and Underage DrinkingBy Attorney Jennifer Schulte: We are right in the middle of college football season. After today’s game I have sore legs from climbing the stairs and walking from our tailgate to the game. I have a sunburn on my knees, arms, face and neck. I’m basically beat but our team won and that makes it all worth it. Football is fun to watch and the noise and smells and sounds are just part of
Strategies to save money when filing bankruptcyIndividuals these days don’t really file bankruptcy only when they’re unable to keep up with their monthly bills and neither have any savings intact and hence forced to consider the option of bankruptcy. The worst bit supposedly remains the fact that filing for bankruptcy requires