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By:  Casey Jernigan King

There are two types of divorce under Florida law: a simplified dissolution of marriage, and a regular dissolution of marriage (which may be contested or uncontested), both of which are handled by the Florida circuit courts.  In order to be eligible to obtain either type of divorce, the parties must establish that they are married, one spouse has resided in Florida for at least six months prior to filing for divorce, and the marriage is irretrievably broken.  Moreover, in simplified and uncontested regular divorce proceedings, spouses must be in agreement on all details, including, without limitation, division of money and assets, division of debt and liabilities, child custody, parenting arrangements, child support, division of personal items, and entitlement to tax exemptions.  

Generally, spouses seeking a simplified divorce in Florida must meet the following criteria: (a) both spouses agree the marriage is irretrievably broken; (b) there are no minor children from the marriage; (c) the wife is not pregnant at the time of filing; (d) both spouses complete a financial affidavit, which is a written affirmation regarding property and finances, unless properly waived by the parties; (e) both spouses complete a property settlement agreement that settles all property issues (even if the spouses do not own property); and (f) both spouses appear at the final hearing, unless a formal hearing is properly waived by both parties.  This option appeals to couples who wish to amicably end their marriage and are willing to cooperate with one another to that end.

In an uncontested regular dissolution of marriage, only one spouse (the petitioner) files for divorce against the other spouse (the respondent).  Once served with the divorce petition, the respondent spouse must file a written answer.  Similar to the simplified divorce, in an uncontested regular divorce, the spouses must execute a marital settlement agreement resolving all issues of marital property, marital debts, and minor children from the marriage.  The spouses must also complete a financial affidavit within 45 days of service of the divorce petition.  If there are minor children, an uncontested regular divorce will also include a detailed parenting plan.  This type of divorce is extremely beneficial when properly executed, because the entire case is settled prior to filing the petition with the court; thus, such cases quickly proceed to finality, are much less complicated, and much more cost effective.  

Harrison Sale McCloy Attorneys at Law can provide you with additional information and the firm offers a flat fee for your uncontested/simplified divorce case to help you and your spouse get through this process as quickly and as cost-effectively as possible. www.HSMcLAW.com 


Harrison Sale McCloy Attorneys at Law has offices in Panama City, Santa Rosa Beach and Destin. Their areas of practice include Association Law, Business & Commercial Law, Civil & Commercial Litigation, Elder Law, Employment Law, Family Law, Health & Hospital Law, Insurance Defense, Local Government, Mediation and Dispute Resolution, Probate & Estate Planning, Tax Law, Real Estate & Land Use and Wealth Preservation. Since 1984 Harrison Sale McCloy has represented and advised businesses, local government and individuals throughout Northwest Florida.


304 Magnolia Avenue

Panama City, FL 32402

Phone: (850) 769-3434



2050 County Highway 30A West, Suite M1-109

Santa Rosa Beach, FL 32459

Phone: (850) 650-0077



35008 Emerald Coast Parkway, Suite 500

Destin, FL 32541

Phone: (850) 650-0010

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Florida Municipal Attorneys Association Presents Douglas J. Sale with Lifetime Distinguished Service Award

Florida Municipal Attorneys Association Presents Douglas J. Sale with Lifetime Distinguished Service Award

Former Panama City Beach City Attorney Honored with Claude L. Mullis Lifetime Distinguished Service Award

Douglas “Doug” J. Sale, former city attorney for the City of Panama City Beach, has been honored with the Claude L. Mullis Lifetime Distinguished Service Award by the Florida Municipal Attorneys Association (FMAA).

“Doug has devoted a lifetime to the practice of municipal law, has spent untold hours providing legal counsel to city officials and his colleagues, lectured repeatedly and written numerous articles on municipal law,” said Florida League of Cities General Counsel Chip Morrison. “He has given tirelessly and unselfishly to his community and to Florida’s municipal community. Doug exemplifies the reasons this award was created.”

This award, which is given to an attorney whose achievements and dedication to the field of municipal law are extraordinary, recognizes a lifetime of significant achievements and distinguished service in this field. There have only been nine recipients of this award during the past 18 years, including its inaugural recipient, the late Claude L. Mullis in 1999.

This honor is only bestowed upon an outstanding municipal lawyer who has demonstrated integrity and honesty throughout his career, has achieved significant career success and has reflected the basic values of those who have excelled in the practice of municipal law. 

“I worked side by side with Doug for 18 years while serving as mayor and we attended many local, regional and state government meetings. Doug was always completely prepared. He was very involved and his guidance was instrumental in bringing Panama City Beach from a little sleepy village to a world class resort,” said Philip Griffitts, former mayor of Panama City Beach. “Many ordinances had to be redone or created and they were done by a man that cares. As our city attorney for over 35 years, Doug has been invaluable in shaping our coastal city into one that residents and tourists are proud of and love. He is well-liked and respected.”

Sale served as the city attorney for the City of Panama City Beach from 1981 until 2016 and is a founding partner of the Harrison Sale McCloy law firm. His primary areas of practice are local government, public finance, and land use law. Sale also serves as general counsel for the Panama City Beach Community Redevelopment Agency, the Bay County Tourist Development Council and the Panama City Beach Convention and Visitors Bureau, Inc. He was named FMAA Attorney of the Year in 1999 and is a past president of the association.

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The Florida Municipal Attorneys Association (FMAA) was formally organized during late 1981, and adopted its constitution in May of 1982. Its membership consists of over 600 attorneys who specialize in the legal representation of municipalities. These members include full-time and part-time city attorneys and their assistant city attorneys as well as attorneys who engage in private practice and who render specialized legal representation to municipalities (e.g. labor lawyers, bond attorneys, civil rights attorneys, and environmental and land-use attorneys). For more information, visit www.fmaa.us.

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Media Contact:  Tammala Spencer (850) 527-9199


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How to Easily Integrate Asset Protection Trusts into Your Estate Plan

How to Easily Integrate Asset Protection Trusts into Your Estate Plan

Asset protection has become a common goal of estate planning.  Asset protection trusts come in many different forms and can be used to protect property for your use and benefit as well as for the use and benefit of your family. 

What is An Asset Protection Trust?

An asset protection trust is a special type of irrevocable trust in which the trust funds are held and invested by the Trustee and are only distributed on a discretionary basis.  The purpose of an asset protection trust is to keep the trust funds safe and secure for the benefit of the beneficiaries instead of having the funds be an available resource to pay a beneficiary’s debts. 

Asset Protection Trusts Equal Inheritance Protection

Leaving an inheritance outright to your child or grandchild without any strings attached is risky in this day and age of high divorce rates, lawsuits, and bankruptcies.  Aside from this, your beneficiaries may not have developed the financial skills necessary to manage their inheritance over the long run.  There is also the very real risk that an outright inheritance left to your spouse will end up in the hands of a new spouse instead of in the hands of your children or grandchildren.  Finally, a beneficiary may be born with a disability or develop one later in life that will end up rapidly depleting their inheritance to pay for medical and other bills.

There are a number of different types of asset protection trusts that you can establish to insure your hard earned money is used only for the benefit of your family:

Trusts for minor beneficiaries – Minor beneficiaries cannot legally accept an inheritance, so a discretionary trust for a minor is a necessity.

  • Trusts for adult beneficiaries – Adult beneficiaries who are not good with managing money, are in a lawsuit-prone profession, have an overreaching spouse, or have an addiction problem will benefit from a lifetime discretionary trust.
  • Trusts for surviving spouses – If you are worried that your spouse will not be able to manage their inheritance, will remarry, or will need nursing home care, you can require your spouse’s inheritance to be held in a lifetime discretionary trust.
  • Trusts for disabled beneficiaries – Disabled beneficiaries who receive an inheritance outright run the risk of losing government benefits and will need to spend down the funds to requalify, but an inheritance left to a special needs trust can be used to supplement, not replace, government assistance.

Drafting an Asset Protection Trust Your Way

Asset protection trusts designed for inheritance protection can be as rigid or as flexible as you choose.  For example, a beneficiary can be added as a co-trustee at a certain age or after the beneficiary reaches a specific goal such as graduating from college.  Another option is to name a corporate trustee, such a bank or trust company, but give the beneficiary the right to remove and replace the corporate trustee with another one. 

You can also make trust distributions as limited or as broad as you choose.  For example, you can state that the funds can only be used to pay medical bills or for education, or the Trustee can be given broad discretion to make distributions in the best interests of the beneficiary.  You may also want to require the Trustee to take into consideration the beneficiary’s income and other assets before making distributions.  Alternatively, the Trustee can be given the authority to deplete the trust for one of the beneficiaries to the detriment of the remainder beneficiaries.  If there are multiple beneficiaries, such as a trust for the benefit of your spouse and your children, the Trustee can be directed to give preferential treatment to one or more beneficiaries over the others.

The Bottom Line on Asset Protection Trusts

Asset protection trusts offer a great deal of planning opportunities for people of even modest means.  We are available to answer your questions about asset protection trusts and help you integrate this type of planning into your estate plan.


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Douglas J. Sale published in the Stetson Law Review


Media Contact:
Tammala Spencer
Tel: 850-769-3434
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Douglas J. Sale published in the Stetson Law Review

Panama City, FL —May 24, 2017—Harrison Sale McCloy Attorneys at Law, HSMc, Founding Partner Douglas J. Sale has been published in the Stetson Law Review. His inclusion, FREE ENTERPRISE VS. ECONOMIC INCENTIVES: THE EVOLUTION OF THE “PUBLIC PURPOSE” FULCRUM was published in the May 2017 Edition.


“Representing local governments and private businesses since the 1970’s in Northwest Florida where we have seen substantial economic expansion, our lawyers have been active in developing a variety of projects that have leveraged a good but of private investment with the use of limited public assets.  Each of these projects had to yield an acceptable return to the private investor but, at the same time, had to serve a public purpose that met the standards set by the Florida Constitution.  Over the past half century those standards were amended by the citizens at referendum once and have been reinterpreted by the courts many times,” Sale stated.  “In writing this article, it was my intent to show the history of that evolution and share our experience with practical ways to place these types of projects on sound, constitutional as well as economic footings. The public policy incorporated in these constitutional standards is precisely the same debate ongoing between Governor Scott and House Speaker Corcoran over economic incentives, pejoratively labelled corporate welfare.  That debate is not new.” 

The Stetson Law Review is published three times a year and addresses contemporary topics that are relevant both nationally and to Florida practitioners.   Sale’s 50 page article is included as the lead article in Volume 46:3, page 481.   http://www.stetson.edu/law/lawreview/current.php


Free Enterprise vs. Economic Incentives:

The Evolution of the “Public Purpose” Fulcrum​​Douglas J. Sale

This Article explores the evolution of Florida law regarding public-private partnerships (“P3s”) and provides practical tips for local government practitioners to best position themselves and the governments they represent for success in partnering with private entities. Local governments and the private sector may collaborate on projects involving economic development, blight elimination or redevelopment, and acquisition of a needed asset or service. However, to avoid running afoul of the Florida Constitution, the government actor must be careful to ensure that the public benefit is sufficiently served and that the project does not disproportionately benefit the private partner. The standard-although not always consistently applied by the Florida Supreme Court-varies depending on the type of financing employed by the government,specifically on whether the governmental assets to be used are in hand at the time of the project’s inception, and if not, how they will be obtained (taxation versus enterprise net revenues). In any case, the constitutionality of a given project will hinge on whether it demonstrates a sufficient public purpose to be served.

​In addition to describing strategies that local government attorneys can employ to best position their projects to meet the required standards, this Article also discusses the variety of mechanisms that a local government can use to implement such projects, including a city’s home-rule power; the 2013 Florida P3 statute; a specific grant of community redevelopment power; and other economic incentive programs included in various statutes and regulations. The Author is the former City Attorney for the City of Panama City Beach and a past President of the Florida Municipal Attorneys Association.

FULL ARTICLE is available at this link: http://www.hsmclaw.com/Documents/FreeEnterpriseVsEconomicIncentives_HarrisonSaleMcCloy.pdf


About HSMc Attorney Douglas J. Sale

Sale’s primary areas of practice are Local Government, Public Finance and Land Use Law. He leads the Firm’s local government and public finance departments. He is the former City Attorney for Panama City Beach; General Counsel for the Bay County Tourist Development Council; General Counsel for First Florida Financing Commission; and Former General Counsel and Public Finance Counsel for Bay Medical Center. In addition, he serves as General Counsel for the Panama City Beach Community Redevelopment Agency, and was the city’s lead representative in the financing and development of the Pier Park redevelopment project on Panama City Beach. 

About Harrison Sale McCloy Attorneys at Law

Founded in 1983, Harrison Sale McCloy Attorneys at Law is a full-service law firm with three offices in Northwest Florida. The HSMc areas of practice include Business & Commercial Law, Civil & Commercial Litigation, Employment Law, Family Law, Health & Hospital Law, Insurance Defense, Local Government, Mediation and Dispute Resolution, Probate & Estate Planning, Real Estate & Land Use, Wealth Preservation. Additional information about the firm and attorneys may be found online.


PANAMA CITY OFFICE: P.O. Drawer 1579 Panama City, FL 32402

DESTIN OFFICE: 35008 Emerald Coast Parkway, Suite 500 Destin, FL 32541

SANTA ROSA BEACH 30A OFFICE: 2050 W. County Highway 30A, Suite M1-109 Santa Rosa Beach, FL 32459

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