The Orlando Law Group

Litigation

Our attorneys have extensive experience in a wide range of civil litigation, including actions involving personal injury, insurance, professional liability, real estate, construction, and more. While we believe in settling when it is appropriate for our clients, we also believe that there are some cases that should not be settled. Our lawyers can handle all aspects of litigation.

Our attorneys have past experience practicing insurance defense. They defended hospitals, doctors, nursing homes, and surgery centers in medical malpractice claims. They also defended insurance companies regarding slip and falls, product liability and car accidents. Because of this experience, we know how insurance companies think. Additionally, we have the experience to effectively and aggressively litigate your case.

It is important to remember that there are statutes of limitations that apply to personal injury cases. This means that there is a time limit in which you can pursue a lawsuit. For this reason, it is recommended that you contact an attorney without delay to protect your right to file a lawsuit.

Service Offerings:

  • Appellate
  • Business Disputes
  • Landlord Tenant Litigation
  • Mortgage Foreclosures
  • Construction Litigation
  • E-Discovery & Information Management
  • Employment Litigation
  • Insurance Litigation
  • Products Liability
  • Premises Liability
  • Real Estate Litigation
  • State & Local Litigation
  • Trusts, Estates, Guardianship & Other Fiduciary Litigation

Meet Your OLG Attorneys

Jennifer A. Englert

Jennifer A. Englert
Attorney & Managing Partner
(407) 512-4394
jenglert@theorlandolawgroup.com

Jeffrey W. Smith

Sophia Dean

Wendy Hernandez O’Donnell

Wendy Hernandez O’Donnell
Attorney
(407) 512-4394
wodonnell@theorlandolawgroup.com

Nicole Rofé

Jarrod Etheridge


Jarrod Etheridge
Attorney
(407) 512-4394
jetheridge@theorlandolawgroup.com

Marsha Summersill


Marsha Summersill
Attorney
(407) 512-4394
msummersill@theorlandolawgroup.com

Erika De Jesus


Erika De Jesus
Attorney
(407) 512-4394
edejesus@theorlandolawgroup.com

Dan Sanders


Dan Sanders
Attorney
(407) 512-4394
dan.sanders@sanderslegalsolutionspllc.com

Adam C. Herman

Adam C. Herman

Director of Litigation
Chief Operating Officer

(407) 512-4394
Aherman@theorlandolawgroup.com

Divorce Does Not Have To Be Difficult

Change is inevitable. Things comes together, and many times, very naturally, things come apart. This is not to say that change is not complicated, and we all know that those processes can be as intricate and arduous as we see fit. Many times, it is about beginning with the right perspective, and regarding divorce, the way you begin can truly set the tone for the journey ahead.

That is why it is crucial to consult with someone who has experience helping others make divorce work for their life. Marsha Summersill has spent years helping others through the journey, and in this blog, we will take a deep dive into the most asked questions regarding divorce, and how being creative plays a role in the process.

When going through a divorce, what would you say is the top concern for your clients?

It is equally money and kids. If they have minor children that usually would be the big topic of how they are going to work that out. Obviously, if they can work out something ahead of time that is good, but if there is a dispute it can get a little dicey. The finances are comingled with the responsibility of the kids, so they come together in certain aspects. The equitable distribution of the divorce, of the financial piece, might or might not be considered income and can become enmeshed with balancing factors within the divorce. You need to be sure this is the direction you want to go.

What are some determining factors to take into consideration when beginning the divorce process?

Each state has its own laws, and we exist in our own pocket of laws when it comes to divorce. I would say what to consider is exactly how your stuff is going to be split. Really consider the best interests of your kids. If they are elite athletes or a super scholar, really put their needs first with respect to their activities and life. Be flexible and maintain the objective of communicating well throughout the process.

What does the timeline look like for someone filing for divorce?

If you truly do not need to litigate all your issues, then it potentially could take a handful of months. If there are many items to litigate, then it could take years. The more the parties know that is real and legally sound, the faster they will get to a realistic compromise. I think the issue we encounter as family law attorneys, many times, is the friend that wants to chirp in their ear or even the information google gives them. That sends them down an illogical path that does them no favors.

Other determining factors will be the party’s cooperation, compromise, and realistic views on how to get the sorting solved, and then other times it could be their legal counsel. There absolutely has been times when the opposing attorney continued the battle, even when both parties could have solved the situation and walked away.

What are some factors that could prohibit me from retaining rights to my children after the divorce?

You always have rights to your children. The only agency outside of you signing over your rights is the Department of Children and Families. In the state of Florida our public policy is both parents have equal rights to enjoy raising their kids. The judge has about 25 factors that they can consider. They do not have to consider all of them, but what is important to understand is that those factors are common sense stuff. There is no one-size-fits-all approach, and many times I have clients that get super creative. Sometimes they have jobs where they travel, so the family must maximize and divide their time. When thinking about the child first, a two-year-old does not need to go seven consecutive days without seeing their parent.

To establish that bond, it is important that the child spend time with both parents. For older kids, they usually do not like going back and forth. Dicing up a week for a high schooler can be tough, so that is a situation where we may want to divide time differently depending on the needs of the children. Even though you are getting a divorce, you still must be a team when it comes to how you parent. It serves as a great example to other individuals who want to waste time and energy battling each other.

Let us say that I started a business while we were married, and it became successful. Is my spouse entitled to any of that business?

Probably. There are so many factors that we must consider, but the reality is that spouse is going to get something. I had a case where this person worked and worked and grew their business to a highly successful endeavor. The offset of that is really determining what is the marital portion of the business. That is where the fighting can start. The definition of what is marital and what is non-marital, what’s personal good will and what’s enterprise good will can really determine the outcome. Once we discover the amount of money that is the business and then the value that you bring to that business, we can achieve that number but, of course, every business is specifically different.

My recommendation: marry your equal. Then, if they did not earn it, they will not want it. That will simply be their personality type, but of course sometimes it is a complicated, intricate scenario. That is why a prenup can be a completely fair thing. If you do something together, that can become marital property. A prenup does not state that, “You don’t get anything.” What a prenup does say is, “I don’t want to be punished for working hard and achieving a lot of things.” There should be no issue with signing it because it is just being fair.

What about social security benefits? Is there a way I can take advantage of their Social Security benefits if they have always earned a greater amount of money?

Yes. The common law knowledge we operate under is that, if your marriage is ten plus years and the one spouse is not remarried at the time that they decide to select social security and their social security is less than what their spouse’s was, then they will either be able to offset it or get one that is a little bit higher than it would be on their own.

How does mediation play a role in the divorce process?

Mediation honestly saves so much financially, emotionally, and in many other areas. It is a huge benefit. In our location, it is required. Not in all statutes, but in family law, it is. You cannot even go to court without mediating. The question is, “Do you have a qualified mediator working with you?” It is a task to get certified in areas, but it does not take any specialization, so if you are looking at a divorce, post-divorce, or paternity case, it is best to work with someone who has good experience or someone like me, who is a family attorney.

What if I want to move to another state with the kids after the divorce?

No. This is about getting your mindset right from the very beginning. We do have a relocation statute that is automatically the law. If you get a divorce and decide to move later, the best option is that you and the other parent get to an agreement to see if that is something that will work for the kids. It cannot be, “I want to move to live closer to someone I met on the internet,” which has happened before.

 Moving is a tough one because it must be looked at from the child’s best interest. That is how the court looks at it and that is how the law looks at it. If the parents can get to an agreement and have a long-distance parenting plan, then we file with the court. If one parent says no, then you will be required to litigate that. How our law works to calculate maximum distance is – 50 miles as the crow flies. If you go over 50 miles, then you have opened the relocation statute. This is all why it works best when both parties can retain a cordial relationship with each other. Odds are that you will indeed have to work with that person in the future to handle these scenarios. It is all about compromise for both parties involved, and always about what is best for the children.

What are some determining factors when it comes to who will pay child support – and what does that support entail?

That is written in the law. It is how much money your gross income is, accounting for all your deductions, taxes and insurance, mandatory pension, and unions. You do get those credits and deductions. It is important to clarify that you do not get credits and deductions to account for your spending habits. The way time-sharing factors in is that it cost money to take care of kids. Timesharing is based on income incorporated with the amount of overnights, plus the proper credit for child expenses. If the child goes to an expensive school, and they are paying 100% of it, they need some sort of credit for that.

Define equitable distribution and how does it play a role in the outcome of the divorce?

It is huge. A lot of people jump to marital assets, but you also have marital debt. All of that is incorporated, and we do a specified spreadsheet. In cases where I am dealing with a lot of assets and/or a lot of debt, I am going to get the one-sheet, and we go back and forth until there is an agreement. We look at a number that aims at equalizing or offsetting payment or equalizing or offsetting debt.

What determines marital property?

Many times, those are the big items that we will argue over. If you acquire anything during the marriage, then there is a high likelihood that it is going to be considered marital and will be subject to an equal split. There is pre-marital, meaning you had a house before you were married. There is this belief that if you do not put your spouse’s name on the house, then it is not marital. This is not necessarily the case. The equity you have in the house at the date of marriage is yours, but as you make improvements over time, the house becomes marital. Whether or not your spouse’s name is on it is irrelevant, so that is something we would caution someone on.

Inheritance is another item people need to be careful about. Inheritance is technically non-marital until it is deposited into an account that is sharable. You cannot comingle the money or use it for marital needs if you want it protected. If you need to take a portion out, take it out at the time that you receive the inheritance, but make sure to put the rest into an account where it is clearly not being used for marital purposes.

How can a CPA (Certified Public Accountant) be of benefit during the process?

CPAs are highly valuable – I work with two that are amazing. Obviously, as lawyers, we have limits. CPAs know so much about values, stocks, and constructing an in-depth chart that considers all the angles of value for a certain item or category. The CPAs we work with are usually forensic accountants, and they know how to calculate enterprise and personal good will on a high level. I get my spreadsheet, opposing counsel gets their spreadsheet, and we compare to see how close we can get to meeting in the middle. When you find a good CPA, they are literally such a valuable piece of the puzzle.

If someone is thinking about divorce right now, what would you want to be able to tell them?

If you have the resources, always seek therapeutic guidance. Sometimes religion plays a role in helping you be certain, but the point is to find resources to make sure that you feel very secure in the decision you are making, especially if you decide to pursue a divorce. When I do my consults, we talk and make sure that you are confident in the decision that is being made and gain that acceptance before the process begins. That can truly help.

Clarifying What a Deed Is

At The Orlando Law Group, many times, we focus in on the questions we most frequently encounter. Much of what we do is intricate, such as the transferring of property through the use of a deed. In the world of Real Estate Law, many words like deed, title, and mortgage get used without an understanding of their distinctions. In this blog, we will offer you insight into the different ways we utilize deeds to transfer properties and address some confusions on what a deed is and what it can and cannot do.

What does a Deed specifically do?

In common law, a deed is any legal instrument in writing which passes, affirms, or confirms an interest, right, or property and that is signed, attested, delivered, and in some jurisdictions, sealed. As you may expect, what sounds like a simple transference can become overtly complicated. You may need the property to transfer in a specific way. That is why there are different types of deeds that can accomplish a variety of objectives.

What is the Difference Between a Deed and Title?

A deed is a physical document that conveys ownership of a property, while a title refers to the concept of ownership rights. One illustration people use to understand this concept is the idea of owning a book. You can own a physical copy of a book, but you cannot own a physical copy of the title. The title is a concept, whereas the book is something physical. In this way, a deed is a physical item that you must have after you purchase property.  

Why are there multiple types?

The different types of deeds exist to account for what the grantor can convey, what the grantor wants to convey, and what warranties the grantor wants to be encompassed within. The four types of deeds we see most often are the general warranty deed, the special warranty deed, the quitclaim deed, and the ladybird deed. Each of these deeds have a diverse range of conveyance, and depending on your objectives, you will want to narrow it down to the one that matches your goals.

What is a General Warranty Deed?

This is most likely the type you are looking for. It gives the most protection to the buyer, as well as guarantees that the property is owned outright by the seller. Although the exact specification can change depending on the state, the general warranty deed promises that the grantor has a legal right to sell the property, alongside the fact that the property is free of any liens, debts, or encumbrances.

What is a Special Warranty Deed?

A special warranty deed does not provide as much protection as the general warranty deed does. In this situation, the grantor of the deed conveys the property as well as two warranties, or assurances. The first warranty promises that the grantor holds title to the property, and the other assures that the property was not encumbered during the grantor’s time of ownership.

It is very important to note that this type does not guarantee that the property was unencumbered before the grantor took ownership. It makes sense that these are commonly used when the seller does not know what transpired before they took ownership of the property and are mostly encountered when a trust or estate is transferring property. You can also find it is common to have special warranty deeds when working with commercial properties.

What is the Quitclaim Deed?

With the quitclaim deed, the least amount of protection is afforded for the buyer. With limited uses, this deed transfers any interests the grantor may have in the property. For example, if your friend used a quitclaim deed to transfer their property to you, this deed would essentially say that “If I own this property, it is yours.” The grantor quits their right and claim to the property. It is also important to note that this type does not allow for any insurances in terms of liens and encumbrances. It is very often used in divorce because in that situation, both parties have a mutual understanding of the property’s history.

What is the Ladybird Deed?

The Ladybird Deed is used to pass property automatically to one or more recipients at death without the need for Florida probate. Many times, a Lady Bird Deed is also called an Enhanced Life Estate Deed. An important aspect of The Ladybird Deed is that the grantor reserves the right to sell, use, and manage the property during the grantor’s lifetime.

For a normal life estate deed, a five-year waiting period for Medicaid benefits would begin. One of the benefits of using a Lady Bird Deed is that this waiting period can be circumvented since the deed is not considered a transfer of ownership as a gift. One aspect to be careful of is the fact that some lenders will not let you refinance a property that has an enhanced life estate deed. That’s why it’s a good idea to check with us before you utilize one.

Does a Mortgage Convey Title?

This is a point of confusion that we often see. A mortgage does not convey title. For that, you will need a deed. The reason we like to make the distinction is because many times, individuals might think that a mortgage does convey title, but it does not. A mortgage is a loan on the property itself, and it is the deed that will convey title and ownership of the property. They are separate entities with interlocking components, and believe it or not, there are absolutely different types of mortgages. The best way to look at it: a mortgage is not a deed and a deed is not a mortgage.

Using the Right One

The ultimate point is this – each deed has its own specific uses, and picking the right one can have benefits for you in the long run. Therefore, you need to work with attorneys who have experience with their various uses, as well as how to make them work to your advantage. If you need a transference of your deed, make sure to give us a call and we’ll help you pick the one that best serves your goals, whether that is a general, special, quitclaim, or ladybird deed. Each is a tool for a certain time, objective, and purpose. Reach out to us, and The Orlando Law Group would be happy to help you pick the deed that best fits your need.

Lemon Law

Making Laws Out of Lemons

You cannot make lemonade without lemons, and you cannot be protected as a consumer without The Lemon Law. The Lemon Law is not that old. States began to enact their own lemon laws after the federal government first enacted the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act in 1970. As it pertains to automobiles, the Lemon Law was put into place to allow for some semblance of accountability between consumers, manufacturers, and the products they produce. In this blog, we will take a comprehensive look into how the lemon law protects you as a consumer, best practices if you are involved in a lawsuit where the lemon law is applicable, and everything you need to know about why it exists in the first place.

What Qualifies As a “Lemon”?

On a simple level, the word lemon refers to a vehicle that has not been fixed after a certain period and cannot be fixed and made to work for the consumer. It is a defective item. If you’re vehicle has issues and has been at the dealership for more than 15 days you may have a Florida State lemon law case. The rights to utilize this law do not last forever though. For the first 25 months after the date you take delivery of your motor vehicle, that’s how long we have to act. If you wait, odds are you will end up outside of that time window, and we will be powerless to defend you. If you think your vehicle qualifies as a lemon, and you want to take action, our attorneys will fight for your right to have a working, non-defective product.

How The Lemon Law Protects the Consumer

As you may expect, not all products sold are in perfect, working order. This is why you as a consumer need protection. Lemon Laws work to ensure the consumer has the authority to request that any defects in the automobile they purchased be repaired in a reasonable amount of time. Some documents that the consumer will receive are a “Notice of Arbitration,” a “Consumer’s Trade-in Allowance Form,” and a “Consumer’s Prehearing Information Sheet.” These forms need to be completed and sent to the Board Administrator as well as a copy to be received by each involved manufacturer or manufacturer’s attorney no later than 5 days before the scheduled hearing. It is very important these documents are submitted or the board may not allow your witnesses to testify or may decline to consider any attachments, unless good cause is given as to why there was a failure to comply. 

How The Lemon Law Protects the Manufacturer

Manufacturers need consumers to be able to trust them, and without Lemon Laws, the consumer would not feel empowered to purchase their product. The law understands that not every car is perfect, but it does exist to hold those accountable to the products they sell. The manufacturer should receive a copy of the consumer’s Request for Arbitration as well as any accompanying documents, a “Notice of Arbitration,” a “Manufacturer’s Answer” form and a “Manufacturer’s Prehearing Information Sheet.”

Best Practices for Your Hearing

If you must file for litigation, we want you to have an idea about what to expect. Your hearing will be conducted by a panel of three arbitrators. One of the arbitrators will serve as the chairperson and the other will have a deep knowledge of motor vehicles. All hearings are open to the public, and intimidation or disruptive behavior is not allowed by either party. The process will be broken down into two parts. Part one aims to determine if the vehicle does qualify as being a “lemon” according to the law. If the vehicle is indeed found to be a lemon, the second part of the hearing will determine if the consumer gets a refund or a replacement vehicle to compensate for their damages. Our recommendation is to always arrive ready to testify about all the important aspects of your case, as well as an understanding of the guidelines for calculating the remedy. Those guidelines can be found at http://myfloridalegal.com/lemonlaw.

Changes to the Process Because of COVID-19

Due to the changes brought about by COVID-19 and new procedures to increase productivity at a distance, documents and other evidence will need to be submitted to the Board by close of business Tuesday, the week prior to the hearing for the Board to review those documents. It is also important to note that each participant is required to appear with both video and audio during the zoom hearing.

It may seem simple, but certain practices on zoom are assumed. For instance, when not speaking, it is a good practice to mute your microphone. Each party will receive remedy calculation worksheets via email, which should be printed out and available by the time of the hearing. If you get disconnected at any time, try to reconnect immediately and if you are unable to reconnect, call the Board Secretary so that your hearing can be paused while the problem is solved.

What Our Attorneys Can Do to Help

As you can see, there are a multitude of points to consider for your hearing, so much so that we cannot include them all in one blog. Our recommendation is to never struggle alone. Our attorneys have experience in these matters, and can help guide you and reassure you throughout the process. It’s our job to offer you quality advice given our vast legal experience. We have your best interests in mind, and will help you gather all of the information necessary to make sure your case has the best chance once the board considers all of the data presented.

If you have questions, reach out to The Orlando Law Group right away, and we can help remove the burden that comes from buying a lemon.

 

© 2021 The Orlando Law Group.