Martin County Bar Association Supports Current and Future Attorneys

Attorney Joseph Gufford has a solid reputation for pro bono work in the central south Florida area, and has earned several professional awards for his efforts. Joe Gufford now operates a multi-attorney practice in Stuart, Florida, and contributes time and energy to the Martin County Bar Association (MCBA) through his pro-bono efforts with Florida Rural Legal Services.

Florida Rural Legal Services is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing quality civil legal advice, representation and education for low income people and communities. Florida Rural Legal Services, gives attorneys the opportunity to fulfil their promise to “never reject the cause of the defenseless or oppressed or delay anyone’s cause for lucre or malice.”

Joe Gufford has made it his practice over the course of the last few years to ensure that his firm is handling at least one pro-bono case at all times. While this may not sound like a lot to the general public, many of these cases are complex and require much time and resources in order to achieve a just result. Virtually all of Joe Gufford’s formal pro-bono activities are done through Florida Rural Legal Services because of the benefits offered to Florida Rural’s Pro Bono Attorneys:
• Out-of-pocket costs are paid by FRLS.
• FRLS will cover malpractice insurance (with deductible).
• Clients are pre-screened to ensure that they are indeed indigent.
• Free CLE webinars are available for attorneys who assist FRLS with cases.


My wife and I are parting ways and she wants to move to S.C. What does the law state when it comes to our 4 year old daughter?

Until a Court Order is entered, she can take that child anywhere she wants. That’s why it is absolutely important for you to get a case filed immediately and have her served. In St. Lucie County, once a divorce action is filed, a Standing Temporary Domestic Relations Order is entered that prevents the removal of the child from the jurisdiction. But you have to get the case filed and get her served. In any event, so long as 6 months does not pass by with her and your child in South Carolina, Florida will have jurisdiction over the child under the UCCJEA which defines the home state of the child as being the state where the child lived for the 6 months preceding the filing of any action. If you wait to file a case too long, you might be stuck litigating child custody matters in South Carolina.

How do I go about filing an emergency injunction to prevent my wife from moving my children out of state?

You need to file an action as soon as possible. The fastest cause of action is through a divorce and an emergency motion in that divorce action. You don’t have to necessarily follow through with the divorce but you need a case that you can operate under.

New Florida Repeat Violence Case of Note by Joe Gufford

The case of Waddell discusses the evidence necessary to obtain a repeat violence injunction. Here is the Court’s opinion:

David Waddell appeals from the entry of a Final Judgment of Injunction for Protection Against Repeat Violence, which prohibits him from having any contact with his neighbor, Joseph DeLorenzo. At the hearing, DeLorenzo presented evidence that Waddell had cussed at him and yelled vague threats at him, from a distance, on several occasions. On cross-examination, DeLorenzo admitted that Waddell had never taken any observed action toward violence. Rather, DeLorenzo seemed primarily  [*592]  concerned about the stress caused to both him and his wife by Waddell’s “sly remarks, looks[,]” and pervasive use of profanity. Although DeLorenzo did not testify to a single act of violence against him, the trial judge announced that he was going to enter an injunction to provide a “cooling off period” of about two years “for the sake of peace in the neighborhood.” Because petitioner’s evidence was legally insufficient to support entry of a repeat violence injunction,  [**2] see, e.g., Russell v. Doughty, 28 So. 3d 169, 170 (Fla. 1st DCA 2010) (holding that yelling profanities and threats at the petitioner, even after a previous battery by respondent against petitioner, was not sufficient for a finding of “repeat violence” without evidence that respondent took an action creating a “well-founded fear that violence was imminent”), we reverse.

Waddell v. DeLorenzo, 105 So. 3d 591, 591-592 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 5th Dist. 2012)

What is Necesary to Dissolve an Existing Doestic Violence Injunction in Florida by Joe Gufford

The case of Reyes v Reyes discusses what is necessary to dissolve a Domestic Violence injunction after an injunction has been issued.
“Case law has not clearly set forth the applicable legal standard for determining whether a domestic violence injunction should be vacated or modified. Some cases seem to require the movant to allege and prove a change in circumstances. See Knight v. Waters, 786 So.2d 1289 (Fla. 1st DCA 2001) (affirming order denying a motion to modify or dissolve a protective injunction under section 784.046 because the motion did not assert a change in circumstances); Simonik v. Patterson, 752 So.2d 692, 693 (Fla. 3d DCA 2000) (“In the absence of evidence that the circumstances have changed, we find no abuse of discretion in the denial of the motion to modify.”). However, other cases have focused on the “at any time” language in the statutory [**3] text, finding that the trial court should have held an evidentiary hearing to allow the movant to present evidence regarding the initial procurement of the injunction. See York v. McCarron, 842 So.2d 281 (Fla. 1st DCA 2003); Madan v. Madan, 729 So.2d 416 (Fla. 3d DCA 1999).Id. at 239. See also Betterman v. Kukelhan, 977 So. 2d 702 (Fla. 4th DCA 2008). HN3We hold that, for a movant to be entitled to obtain relief on a motion to modify or dissolve a domestic violence injunction, the movant must prove a change in circumstances. Accord Alkhoury v. Alkhoury, 54 So. 3d 641 (Fla. 1st DCA 2011). Therefore, for a movant to be entitled to receive a hearing on such a motion, the motion must allege a change in circumstances.

Reyes v. Reyes, 104 So. 3d 1206, 1207 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 5th Dist. 2012)