Cash, Gift, or Secret Loan?

Buying a home is for many, one of the most expensive purchases a family will ever make. Thankfully, many have friends and family who are willing to help finance this first purchase, usually for the down payment on the home. These types of funds are called “gift funds” and are not intended to be repaid. Gift funds allow young families the opportunity to purchase a home with the help of their family or in-laws.

Unfortunately, relationships can sour. What happens if those you once considered your friends and family demand their money back months or years down the line? What do you do now that your former friends or in-laws are suing you, claiming the money they gave was not a gift, but a loan meant to be paid back? You hire an attorney; don’t allow yourself to be threatened and bullied into paying back money you don’t owe.

Situations like this are all too familiar to us here at Mackey Law Group. They usually come up in divorce proceedings when one spouse’s in-laws want their “money back” from the son/daughter in-law. If you are being threatened by those you once trusted, hire a lawyer who will protect you and defend your rights.

By: Jorge Martinez, Esq

I’m the spouse who doesn’t work; how can I pay to get divorced?

Many clients (usually women who are raising/have raised the kids) do not have their own money and their spouse has excluded them from access to any marital funds/assets. So, the non-breadwinner spouse finds herself in a bad spot: How does she have the funds to get the divorce which she must have? How does she make sure that she has an equal chance?

Unless the non-breadwinner spouse has few thousand dollars, she will unfortunately not be able to start the divorce proceeding. But, if she has a credit card, some cash squirreled away, or she can borrow from a family member,   she can make the initial payment and get the divorce proceeding started. A good divorce lawyer will then not only get the case moving forward; but he/she will immediately make motions for temporary attorney’s fees and temporary spousal support. A good divorce lawyer will also get your motions immediately set for hearing so that you have access to the marital funds/assets and can afford represent herself. A side note: if the breadwinner spouse is transferring-out/hiding money and other marital assets, there are laws prohibiting such and good divorce lawyer can force the reversal of those transactions. In other words, there are many ways to stop the spouse with all the money from financially strangling the non-breadwinner spouse.

You do not have to feel trapped in a marriage. The court has the power to award temporary funds to the non-breadwinner spouse so that she is able to both support herself and pay for a good lawyer; she must be litigating on a level playing field.  The key is to hire a lawyer who not only knows the law; but, knows how to navigate your case quickly through the court’s docket and procure results. And don’t forget to ask: Do you actually try cases?

At Mackey Law Group, we have accomplished all of the above many times and we are experienced trial lawyers. Most importantly, once we get our clients on a level playing field with the opponent, we excel.  So, if you find yourself in such a “spot”, callus. We know how to level the playing field and how to handle bullies.

By: Drew Chesanek, Esq.

 

SEX, LIES, AND FALSE ACCUSATIONS

In June of 2015, Jim (all names have been changed) was sitting in his office at a well-known business when Sam, a neighbor of Jim’s, walked through the lobby, stuck his head into Jim’s office, and asked him to come outside of the building to speak with him. When Jim walked outside the building front doors, Sam commenced to punch Jim, and continued to do so after Jim hit the ground. An employee ran outside and literally saved Jim. The injuries to Jim were significant. He was taken to the hospital by ambulance and had a broken nose and fractured orbital socket.

Things then got worse for Jim. Over the next two months, Sam placed professionally-made signs in the Bradenton neighborhood where they both lived (and had minor children), stating that there was a child molester living in their neighborhood and asking people to call a number on the sign that was Sam’s number! Sam also kept spray-painting orange arrows on the pavement in front of Jim’s house. When the HOA president attempted to remove one of the signs at the entrance of the neighborhood, he was confronted later that evening at his house by Sam, who had placed a game-camera in the bushes by the entrance-way sign!

What caused all of the above?

Sam’s minor daughter had apparently been having disciplinary problems and had, the morning of the assault, told Sam’s wife what Jim had improperly touched her years earlier. Absent asking any questions, Sam had taken everything his teenage daughter said at face value. Sam left the house, drove to Jim’s place of employment, and assaulted Jim. Sam then proceeded to place the above-referenced signs and painted arrows. In turn, Jim and his family were mortified. They actually had to move out of the neighborhood to a neighboring town. How could a man possibly defend such unsubstantiated allegations? The worst thing a married man with children could possibly be called is a child-molester!

What happened next?

That’s when Jim came to Mackey Law Group. We gathered all the facts and commenced a civil action against Sam. Mackey Law Group also proceeded to retain one of the best experts in the country as to defending the totally false allegations.

Sam hired a Sarasota lawyer, who was affiliated with a Miami firm. Sam’s lawyer was high-brow and “specialized in child abuse cases”. Sam even counterclaimed on behalf of his daughter against Jim. Sam and his lawyer tried anything they could to legally intimidate Jim and his family. They actually demanded that Jim pay Sam’s family money! Sam’s lawyer was adamant and condescending the whole way through the lawsuit, repeatedly stating things to Mackey Law Group’s lawyers such as: “You have a pedophile on your hands what are y’all going to do?”

But Mackey Law Group’s attorneys believed in our client, navigated the case around the many obstacles put up by Sam’s legal team, and we kept pushing to get to trial on the false accusations and outrageous conduct/battery. Although it was expensive for Jim, he refused to bow-down to such bully-tactics. By the time trial was nearing, Mackey Law Group’s lawyers had even documented the accusing girl’s (Sam’s daughter) story as changing no less than 7 times! Sam’s legal intimidation tactics had not worked.

How was the case resolved?

Finally, when trial was upon the parties, Sam’s lawyer asked for a continuance of the trial, which the Judge refused to do. Then Sam’s lawyer asked for mediation and the Judge granted Sam’s lawyer’s request. At mediation, Mackey Law Group opened the proceeding by literally shocking the other side with its preparation. Our lawyers were on task and put on Jim’s complete case in summary fashion; inclusive of: photographs, police reports, hospital records, and our expert’s analysis that the event referenced by the accusing minor girl never happened. Conversely, Sam and his lawyers appeared to have nothing to fight back with. They actually appeared to be stunned.

As a result, Mackey Law Group got Sam to agree to: (i) pay Jim $175,000 cash; (ii) never disparage Jim again; and (iii) the entry of a no-contact order as to Jim and his entire family for the rest of Sam’s life; he cannot come within 500 feet of Jim’s family. In addition, Mackey Law Group forced Sam to agree that the settlement would not be confidential; that way, Jim could go back to his former neighbors and show them exactly what the result was as to the false accusations and battery by Sam.

The moral of this?

Never back down to bullies. Stand up for yourself when you are in the right. And, when necessary, hire the very best lawyers you know. Justice will prevail.

By: Peter J. Mackey, Esq.

Who will get Custody of my Kids?

When facing divorce, many parents assume the mother will automatically be awarded custody of the children with the father getting limited visitation. Florida courts have done away with this presumption and will now divide time between parents in the child’s best interest. The courts no longer have a presumption as to which parent will automatically get the most time, but look at the facts of each case individually.

Without an attorney, it can be easy for a mother to incorrectly assume she will automatically get sole custody simply for being the mother. On the other side, a father may think it is useless to ask for more time since it is already a done deal that the mother will win custody of their children, not realizing that he could have fought for more.

Child time sharing is but one of the issues a divorce brings, and hiring an attorney to represent you through this process is the best thing you can do for you and your children. Mackey Law Group has represented many parents in divorce proceedings and we can help you through yours.

Jorge Martinez, Esq.

 

 

Abandonment Myth: Moving Out of the Marital Home and Divorce

There is a common misconception that if one spouse moves out of the marital home prior to or during a divorce proceeding that they have “abandoned” the home and are no longer entitled to any of its value in the divorce.  In Florida family law courts this simply is not the case.

Regardless of whether one spouse leaves the home voluntarily or involuntarily, they are still Abandonmententitled to a portion of the equity (or debt) of that residence as part of the divorce.  Credits may be given to the remaining spouse or either spouse who continues to pay the mortgage when dividing the equity, but this still does not lend itself to any issue as to whether abandonment has occurred or whether one party is relinquishing a right to an interest in the property by moving out.

There are, however, many other issues to consider when one spouse leaves the home, and Mackey Law Group is willing and ready provide advice if you are contemplating a divorce.

By: B. Kyle Stalnaker, Esq.

Splitting-Up Property

People, even husbands, wives, and relatives, often own property with others; whether it is a home or a vehicle. And it is typical that one owner pays more of the expenses than the other or other disagreements arise between the owners. When two property owners cannot agree, this can create a stalemate where they no longer want to continue in co-ownership. If you find yourself in this situation, Florida law provides you withhow-a-property-can-be-partitioned-between-co-owners a way out: force the sale of the property and receive your portion of the sale proceeds. This is a legal remedy known as partition.

To commence a partition action, you must file a complaint, requesting a partition of the property. The lawsuit must be filed in the county where the property is located. Each person with an interest in the property must be included as a party to the lawsuit and the complaint must identify certain information about the parties and the property involved.

Each owner has an opportunity to make claims for expenses that he or she has incurred (contribution claims). Each co-owner is responsible for their portion of the property related expenses. For example, if two owners each own 50% of the property, then each party is responsible one-half of the expenses. Therefore, if one of the co-owners pays more than 50% of the expenses, he or she will receive a credit against the other co-owners portion of the sale proceeds. The reimbursable expenses include mortgage payments, insurance, taxes and necessary repairs.

Typically, the court will determine the rights of the parties and decide how it is best to divide up the property. If the property cannot be physically divided amongst the parties, the court will require that the property be sold and the proceeds divided between the parties. Keep in mind though that mortgages/liens and attorney’s fees and costs will be paid from the sale proceeds prior to distribution to the owners/sellers. This is a benefit to the petitioner because it essentially splits the attorney’s fees and costs between the former co-owners.

We have handled many partition cases in land and property ownership, business breakups and divorce proceedings. Call Mackey Law Group for this and all your real property needs.

By: Catherine Mackey, Esq.

T.R. Smith, Esq.

THINKING OF DIVORCE? DON’T COMMINGLE YOUR ASSETS!

Don't Commingle AssetsIf you are thinking you will be involved in a divorce action soon, or if you are currently involved in a divorce, you want to carefully govern yourself so you’re not surprised by unwanted consequences. For instance you may want to avoid commingling your assets.

In Florida, the courts look at all of your assets like a snapshot the moment a petition for dissolution of marriage is filed. Although there are exceptions, the general rule is that everything that has been accumulated during the marriage is split evenly between the spouses. Normally, assets obtained before the marriage are not marital assets or funds subject to sharing. Likewise, assets obtained by either party after the petition for dissolution of marriage is filed may also not be subject to sharing.

Many people are surprised to find out that if they take their separate assets/funds and commingle them with marital assets or in joint accounts; they may no longer able to keep what is theirs. In essence, those assets lose their character as a non-marital asset. What you do with your separate property before and during the marriage and what you do after the petition is filed can impact how much of your separate assets you get to keep.

This is true even in short term marriages. In a recent Manatee County divorce case, a medical doctor was married for less than 90 days prior to filing for dissolution of marriage. The doctor brought a bank account with a substantial amount of money in it, into the marriage. After the petition was filed, he allowed his new wife to continue to deposit her small paychecks into that account and let her have a debit card for that account to pay household expenses. At the final hearing the court ruled that ALL of the money in the doctor’s account had become marital funds that had to be shared equally. In doing so, the court cited the rule that when one spouse deposits funds into a joint account, where they are commingled with other funds so as to become untraceable, a presumption is created that the spouse made a gift to the other spouse of an undivided one-half interest in the funds.

So beware and behave smartly if divorce is on your horizon. You should seek the counsel of an experienced marital and family law attorney if you believe you are heading for divorce. Mackey Law Group, P.A. has been representing people in divorces and many various family law matters successfully in Bradenton and Manatee and Sarasota counties for years. Give us a call if you’re wondering how you should plan. All consultations are confidential.

By:      Catherine Mackey

Drew Chesanek