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Mediations, Family Law, and Dispute Resolution by Susan M. Helms -- Attorney At Law
 
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Practice Areas

General Civil Practice, Civil and Commercial Litigation including real estate and contract disputes
Family Law Estate Planning (Wills, Trusts)  Estate Administration (Probate, Trust Administration)
Mediation (pre-suit or during litigation)
Private Judging
Foreclosure workout and mediation

Located in St. Petersburg, Florida, the Law Office of Susan M. Helms provides effective representation in all aspects of civil practice, divorce and family law, will and estate planning, and probate services to the greater Pinellas County area.

Susan M. Helms has practiced law in St. Petersburg since 1992.  Her current practice focuses on the following areas:

Family Law
In Florida, divorce is called "dissolution of marriage."  Florida law requires our judges to effect an "equitable distribution" of marital assets and debts.  If there are minor children, Florida law requires that a "parenting plan" be put in place to address time-sharing and responsibility for the children which is found to be in their best interest.  The Law Office of Susan M. Helms handles difficult or complex divorces, as well as uncontested or low-asset divorces.  Our approach is always to attempt a reasonable settlement for you, even pre-suit, through a thorough assessment of your issues and negotiation with the other party.  If that is not possible, then we will pursue your rights in court.  We keep a focus on affordability so that you will not outspend your family's resources fighting unimportant battles, but will nevertheless reach a just result.

Estate Planning, Wills & Probate
An effective estate plan is absolutely essential to the continued well-being of your family and loved ones.  We have the skill and experience necessary to create an effective estate plan to ensure that your assets are distributed in accordance with your wishes in the most efficient and problem-free manner possible.  Where it is possible and practical, we can help you avoid probate.  Where it is necessary, we will help you and your family navigate the probate process. We recommend some very basic estate planning documents be prepared for every adult, at a minimum, including a will, living will with health care surrogate designation, and durable power of attorney.  We can discuss with you whether you have special needs that would make revocable trusts appropriate to avoid probate, irrevocable trusts to avoid creditors, medical benefits and long term care planning, etc.

Mediation
Mediation agreements are legally binding, and can be a less costly, less time-consuming means to reach an equitable and mutually agreeable solution to your legal dispute, whether it is family law, a probate dispute, a contractual dispute, or any other legal matter. The mediated solution must satisfy all the participants in the dispute. These participants must negotiate which solution or combination of solutions is acceptable to all of them. That is why mediation is ideally suited to family disputes.
 
The mediation conference is informal, confidential and nonadversarial. The conference takes place in a private conference room at a mediator's or attorney's office. Mediation conferences are conducted prior to the trial date/ final hearing, in an effort to give the parties an opportunity to negotiate and resolve their case without the added expense and stress of trial.
 
Mediations can also be scheduled by agreement without the filing of a lawsuit.  Many people who have been through the process insert this requirement in their agreements, and prefer to come back to this form of "alternative dispute resolution" to resolve their problems. 
 
The Law Office of Susan M. Helms can serve as a mediator for you and/or your attorneys, or we can represent you in an effort to resolve a dispute through a mediated process.

 
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