Category Archives: Marital Law

HAPPY 17th ANNIVERSARY to ASSOULINE & BERLOWE!

MIAMI – Assouline & Berlowe, P.A., The Business Law Firm, is pleased to announce that today it is celebrating its 17th Anniversary.

Started on February 10, 2003, through humble beginnings, in a small subleased space in Coral Gables, Assouline & Berlowe has weathered the many business climate changes and challenges of the past two decades.

Assouline & Berlowe is proud of its contributions to its communities in the tri-county area, as part of its presence with offices in Miami, Ft. Lauderdale/Dania Beach, and Boca Raton.  Assouline & Berlowe regularly supports both its legal community and numerous charitable organizations alike.

Assouline & Berlowe is strategically positioned to continue its expansion as a strong player in South Florida’s international business environment.

To all those that we have worked with in the past and to those we hope to work with in the future, we say thank you.

Layout 1Circa. Feb.10,2003

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Partner Eric Assouline Presents at Deposition Skills Training Course

Certified Deposition Transcript

Cases are often won or lost through depositions.  A well taken deposition can make the difference at all the stages of the litigation, including mediation, summary judgment, and trial.

All litigation attorneys must treat depositions as the most critical aspect of the case.  A deposition is as close to hand to hand combat as litigation will become.  The deposition is the only time that the parties and the attorneys will all be together at the same time without a judge or mediator present.  It is the first time the parties and their counsel will all be starring one another in the eyes to size up their adversaries.how to take a deposition

Every litigator must ask themselves:

Would I like to be more effective when taking depositions?

Would I like to learn from attorneys who are experienced in taking depositions?

Would I like to learn from attorneys who have crafted a CLE seminar that will provide me with practical, useful advice?

If yes, you’ll will want to sign up for the upcoming CLE program Mastering the Deposition: A Critical Skills Workshop, presented by Pincus Professional Education. This program received outstanding evaluations last year, so you don’t want to miss it.

“I know a lot more practical information about depositions than when I woke up this morning.” N. A. Marzuk, Esq.

“This was a great program, and I greatly appreciate the practical advice on how to handle difficult situations that sometimes arise during a deposition.”

“I appreciated the practical advice regarding how to deal with problematic situations which arise during the taking of a deposition…” J. Scifo, Esq.

Mastering the Deposition: A Critical Skills Program
March 21, 2014; 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Hampton Inn & Suites

Miami/Brickell Downtown
50 SW 12th Street

What attendees will learn:

  • Overview & Strategy
    • What is your purpose in       taking the deposition? Not a “one size fits all” process
    • Tips and tricks that       may give you the edge
  • Rule 30(b)(6)
    • Difference between Rule       30(b)(6) and a fact witness
    • Preparation required
    • How to avoid sanctions
    • What to do when you       have an unprepared witness
    • Best practices for a       Rule 30(b)(6) request
  • Witness Preparation
    • How to best prepare       your witness
    • The percipient witness       vs. a PMK
    • Ethical considerations
  • Expert Depositions
    • Effective strategies to       qualify and/or attack expert witnesses
    • Using Motions in Limine       to exclude expert or testimony
  • Technology
    • Super depositions       (picture-in-picture video depositions that bring trial presentation       software into the deposition)
    • Streaming video       depositions
    • Tips for successful       video depositions (i.e. how to prep your witness for a video depo)
    • How to get the most out       of video/text synchronization (i.e. searching transcripts and exporting       video depo clips to link in eBriefs)
    • Video impeachment at       trial
    • Strategies for       deposition playback at court (i.e, video only, video with text scrolling,       linking exhibits with video and how to decide which is appropriate for       your trial)
    • Case Study: How a       Picture-in-Picture Video Deposition Changed the Course of a Jury       Deliberation
  • Handling the Difficult      Witness and/or Opposing Counsel
    • Concrete tips and       advice
  • Handling Documents &      Exhibits – Making the record; get the authentication you need
  • Deposition Objections
    • How do I do it?
    • Why do I do it? – Depo       objection strategies
    • What to avoid
    • Biggest risks in       objecting and not objecting
    • What works
    • What matters
    • Additional tips from       the trenches

This is an excellent chance to become more effective at taking – and using – depositions, from start to finish.

Plan your deposition with care.

Decide on an effective strategy before you start.

Use your deposition in the courtroom for the most impact.

Plan to attend.

CLE Summary:

Pincus Professional Education certifies that this seminar is pending approval for 7.0 hours of Florida general CLER credit. Approved for 6.0 hours MCLE in CA.

Prior attendee’s thoughts:
“I thought all topics covered were informative and to the point.” M.MCallister, Esq.

“Thought all speakers were very interesting and informative.” J. Young, Esq.

“The sample production requests and outline for experts will be very helpful.”

“Seminar was very helpful and fulfilled/exceeded my expectations…”

To attend the CLE, REGISTER HERE!   For any of your business needs, please contact Mr. Assouline.

Eric N. Assouline, Esq.

ASSOULINE & BERLOWE, P.A.

Main: 954.929.1899

Email: ENA@assoulineberlowe.com

http://www.assoulineberlowe.com/

Intellectual Property, Labor & Employment Law, Bankruptcy, Commercial Litigation, and Corporate Law

Miami • Ft.Lauderdale • Boca Raton

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Court: Garnish the Discretionary Spendthrift Trust!

“Oh what a tangled web we weave when we first practice to deceive.”

Those are the initial words of a judicial opinion of the Florida District Court of Appeals, Second District, filed November 27, 2013. (Berlinger v. Casselberry; Case No. 2D12-6470). The Court affirmed the trial court’s finding that a garnishment order can reach otherwise protected monies of a discretionary trust.

Although a probate and family law matter, the case is also instructive for general creditor and debtors claims. A trail of factual and legal maneuvers that at first blush seemed reasonable, later are found to be perhaps counterproductive; considering the complex interplay of statutory interpretation, equity, and public policy.

In 2007, after 30 years of marriage, a former husband (Beringer) and former wife (Casselberry) divorce. Amicably reaching a financial settlement, the former husband continues to pay his $16,000 a month permanent alimony obligation until early 2011. Before a hearing is held on the former wife’s petition to the former, husband agrees to liquidate his IRA to satisfy the alimony arrearages. The Court then issued a writ of garnishment to the discretionary trust bank trustee. Subsequently, without supplementing his financial disclosures and effected by an attorney who was a longtime friend of his personal attorney, the former husband transferred his interest in real property (that included his residence) to a discretionary Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust.  After he established the trust, the former husband was deposed; swearing that there were no life insurance trusts. Interestingly, the bank, as corporate co- trustee, issued the former husband a credit card from which his personal expenses (e.g., travel, entertainment, clothing, medical expenses, grooming, gifts, and his current former wife’s credit card bills) were paid.

Confronted with those facts, the former wife filed a civil contempt and enforcement action against the bank trustee. Neither the former husband nor the bank trustee objected; and the Court issued writs of garnishment against the bank trustee.  Finally, the former wife filed a motion for a continuing writ of garnishment against the bank trustee to attach the present and future distributions made to or for the former husband’s benefit from any trust. She alleged that traditional methods of enforcing alimony were insufficient.

At a hearing seeking a declaration that the family trusts were discretionary trusts, the trustee argued that, subject to Florida Code §736.0504 they had greater protection from creditors. Specifically in this case: “prohibiting any creditor including (the former wife) from attaching distributions on behalf of or for the benefit of (the former husband).” Rejecting that argument, the Trial Court granted continuing writs of garnishment. It substituted the trustee for the former wife as the garnishee. And, it further ordered all distributions made directly or indirectly to, on behalf of, or for the benefit of the former husband made payable to the former wife unless, at the time of any future distributions, there was no alimony or alimony arrears owed. Moreover, if trustee wished to make distributions to the former husband beyond the amount of the then outstanding amount of alimony, trustee must seek court approval before doing so to ensure that there remained sufficient assets in the trust to secure the continued payment of alimony.

Because its decision required statutory interpretation, the Appellate Court was permitted to review the matter de novo (anew). That is, as in the Trial Court, its case analysis and decision involved examining the specific facts in light of the statutory mandate.

The trusts were indeed, in light of the statute, determined discretionary spendthrift trusts. Discretionary: since the distributions were completely within the fiduciary discretion of the trustee; spendthrift: since the statute protects the trust funds from creditor attachment or assignment.

On similar facts in an earlier Florida Supreme Court case (Bacardi v. White, 463 So.2d 218 (Fla. 1985)), and given the former wife’s standing spousal support order, the Appellate Court denied the trusts statutory protection. Specifically tracking the language of Florida Statute § 736.0503, the Court upheld “an order attaching present or future distributions to or for the benefit of the beneficiary (because this is the former wife’s) last resort (and) that traditional methods of enforcing the claim are insufficient.”

Interestingly, the Appellate Court pronounced that “Florida has a public policy favoring spendthrift provisions in trusts and protecting a beneficiary’s trust income; however it gives way to Florida’s strong public policy favoring enforcement of alimony and support orders.”

Not within the four corners of the decision, the Appellant former husband’s actions to “ring fence” trusts, transfer his interest in real property, and testimony at a subsequent deposition proved counterproductive. In an action in equity, they could be characterized as demonstrating “unclean hands.” In such case, equity could deny a claimant protection.

Whether a personal estates and trusts matter or a commercial debtor–creditor transaction, professional guidance and factual scenario planning is critical: an ounce of crisis planning is worth a pound of crisis management!

For more information contact:

Carl H. Perdue, JD, LLM

Senior Counsel and Partner

chp@assoulineberlowe.com

ASSOULINE & BERLOWE, P.A.

The BUSINESS LAW Firm

Intellectual Property, Labor & Employment Law, Bankruptcy, Commercial Litigation, and Corporate Law

Miami · Ft. Lauderdale · Boca Raton

Miami: 305-567-5576

Ft. Lauderdale: 954-929-1899

Boca Raton: 561-361-6566

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