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The importance of a solid team, support system in a divorce

When you're going through a divorce, you're likely overwhelmed with advice from well-meaning friends and family, not to mention seemingly endless websites and blogs. However, each situation is unique. That's why it's important to get a team of people around you who can provide experienced guidance and support.

Your first step is finding a family law attorney with whom you feel comfortable, who understands what you're seeking and will work for a settlement that is your and your children's (if you have them) best interests. Don't just look for the attorney with the most online ads. Talk to people you know who've gone through a divorce and were happy with their attorney.

How can I get my criminal record expunged or sealed in Florida?

If you have a criminal past, then you may find it difficult to find employment, to qualify for certain certifications or to secure housing in many areas. One of the reasons you may pursue an expungement of your records is to have the details of your prior offense sealed from public view.

In the event a judge allows an expungement of your criminal record, it will generally appear as expunged, and the record will list the relevant state statute number under which the expungement was ordered. When an expungement occurs, any further inquiry into the details of your prior offense will only be accessible through a court-ordered search warrant.

How can a criminal record impact your ability to travel?

Sometimes a criminal record can haunt you after you've served jail time, paid fines and even gotten off probation. For example, if you plan to travel abroad, depending on what offense you were convicted of and what countries you want to enter, there could be a problem.

In most cases, Americans are able to obtain a U.S. passport if they have a criminal record. The exceptions involve people with drug-related convictions. For example, the U.S. Department of State is prohibited under federal law from issuing passports to those who have a felony conviction for carrying drugs to another country.

Can I lose my retirement savings in a lawsuit?

If you're facing a civil lawsuit, one of your biggest fears is likely whether you will lose your life savings if the person suing you prevails in court.

Civil lawsuits are common these days for a variety of issues, and they can be costly. A serious car accident that resulted in injuries or death can end up costing someone many thousands of dollars of their own money if their insurance doesn't cover the amount awarded to the plaintiff.

Think twice to avoid a DUI charge

For many individuals in Shalimar, the end of the year means holiday season and spending time with loved ones. Some of these individuals may drink more than they usually do as they hang out with their friends and go to family gatherings. This is a primary reason why the number DUI arrests tend to spike at the end of the year. 

If you plan to drink socially this season, be sure to leave the driving to someone else. If you do not, you could unintentionally hurt or kill someone else, damage property and wind up in jail with a DUI conviction on your record. Damages from a DUI conviction are not easy to get rid of or minimize, but you can use the following advice on how to avoid one. 

Why you should sweat the small stuff in your parenting plan

The holiday season can bring added stress on divorced parents -- particularly if they don't have a detailed parenting plan in place as part of their custody agreement.

Of course, it's impossible to predict every potential situation where you'll have to determine who will have the kids when you're developing your plan. However, an experienced Florida law attorney can help you detail guidelines for the ones you can anticipate -- like holidays and the surrounding school breaks.

Florida lawmakers seek records from Emeril Lagasse show

A television show once helmed by famed chef Emeril Lagasse is at the center of a legal battle between Florida state lawmakers and the show's production company. It involves the Florida House's demand for records from The Cooking Channel show "Emeril's Florida."

On that show, the celebrity chef visited restaurants throughout the state. Over five years, the production company, MAT Media, reportedly received a minimum of $10 million from Visit Florida, which is "the state's official tourism marketing corporation."

Protecting your child from dog bites on Halloween

Halloween is a big night for children -- and for dogs. The nonstop visitors to their home can send even calm dogs into a frenzy of excitement. Dogs, who are generally naturally protective of their homes and their people, can act out in ways that may be unusual for them. That can result in dog bites.

When you take your kids trick-or-treating, you need to be particularly careful when you see a dog, wherever it is. Even a dog who is trick-or-treating on a leash with its family can pull loose and charge at fellow trick-or-treaters.

2 Florida students facing felony charges over threats

Often, people post things on social media that they don't mean or intend to be a joke. However, when those posts threaten acts of violence or other criminal activity, law enforcement has to take them seriously.

Two Florida local high school students have learned that lesson the hard way. They are facing charges after threatening other students on social media.

Can you place your home in your trust if it's not paid off yet?

When many people do their estate planning, they choose to place their assets in a trust. Often, people create revocable living trusts that allow them to retain control over these assets while they're alive, but make things easier for their heirs after they are gone.

A revocable trust, as opposed to an irrevocable one, lets people make changes to it during their lives. This includes changes to beneficiaries and terms.


Cotton & Gates, Attorneys at Law
3 Plew Avenue
Shalimar, FL 32579

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Phone: 850-855-4520
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