… Experience does count!
Welcome to Beryl Thompson – McClary
ATTORNEY AT LAW
My name is Beryl Thompson-McClary, Esquire. I am the managing partner of the Law Offices of Beryl Thompson-McClary P.A.; a practicing Florida lawyer who specializes in child custody and divorce cases. As a representative of Florida custody lawyers, I wanted to share my thoughts about this particular practice area and the “hows” and “whys” of my decision to practice this legal specialty.
Orlando Attorney For Divorce, Custody, Criminal Defense and Personal Injury Accidents Law– Beryl Thompson-McClary
Experience You Can Trust –Protecting Your Rights and Balancing the Scales of Justice
Our clients trust the reputation we have established with our commitment to providing high-quality legal services based on decades of experience advocating for the rights and interests of our clients. Beryl Thompson-McClary, the managing partner of Law Offices of Beryl Thompson-McClary P.A., delivers expertise, legal acumen, and experience based on 28 years as a trial lawyer. Our law firm is committed to the principle that the provision of legal services should be based on providing sage legal advice, persuasive negotiation, skilled document preparation, up-to-the-minute legal research, tenacious trial advocacy, and an orientation focused on the best interests of our client. Because we are committed to offering exemplary legal service, we limit our practice to the areas of family law, criminal defense, and personal injury.
Why Clients Trust Beryl Thompson-McClary
Orlando attorney Beryl Thompson-McClary is a seasoned litigator who graduated from college and law school at the University of Florida. With so much at stake in a divorce, criminal prosecution, or personal injury case, our clients take comfort in the fact that our managing partner has conducted over 350 jury trials. This trial experience is buttressed by her extensive involvement in administrative hearings associated with over 120 more cases. We have successfully represented affluent and high-profile clients in family law matters, criminal prosecutions, and personal injury cases.
While Attorney Thompson-McClary has the extensive trial experience you need when embroiled in a high conflict child custody dispute or contentious high asset divorce, she recognizes the value of diffusing conflict and promoting mutually amicable settlements. When a divorce proceeds in a business-like manner, the parties and their children experience less stress and bitterness, which can make the process less contentious and more affordable. We know that a mutually amicable settlement of your divorce issues generally will be more palatable and stable than orders imposed by a judge. However, our law firm offers the experience parties need to obtain a desirable outcome when contentious litigation is appropriate.
High New Worth Divorce in Orlando
If you are an executive, professional, doctor, pro athlete, celebrity, or business owner with a substantial salary and high net worth, the divorce process poses special challenges. While a high net worth divorce involves significant assets and a high income, the affluence of the parties does not begin to cover the unique aspect of this type of divorce. Differences in the substantive law along with issues common to high net worth divorce necessitate representation by an experienced attorney in handling divorces involving high profile and affluent parties.
Alimony (Spousal Support)
The main breadwinner in a marriage involving a spouse with high net worth typically will be ordered to pay alimony to the financially disadvantaged spouse. Unlike child support, alimony is based on the evaluation of several statutory factors, rather than a mathematical formula. Thus, determination of the amount of an alimony award will be far more subjective than the calculation of child support. The amount and duration of this form of financial support will depend on multiple factors. Persuasive advocacy regarding the statutory factors that impact an alimony award includes but is not limited to the relative income of each spouse, contributions of the spouses to the marriage, and the duration of the marriage. Florida recognizes several forms of alimony which can be paid on a periodic or lump sum basis.
Child Custody & Child Visitation
Child custody arrangements often constitute the most urgent issue for parents involved in a divorce. Because financial concerns regarding child support frequently spill over into child custody disputes, we work with our clients to promote amicable discussions toward a mutually agreeable parenting plan. When parents can agree on a parenting plan, the arrangements will almost always be preferable to leaving this decision to a judge who has far less knowledge of your family dynamics. Highly contested child custody disputes can be costly and make a divorce more stressful for parents and their child while exposing the children to animosity and conflict. An experienced high net worth child custody lawyer can guide you to creative solutions where possible while tenaciously advocating for desirable custody orders based on the factors relevant to determining the best interest of your child.
In Florida divorce and paternity actions, the presumptive amount of a child support award generally is based on the statutory formula provided by the Florida Child Support Guidelines set forth at Fla. Stat. § 61.30. If the monthly net income of both parents exceeds the amount on the guideline schedule, the amount of a child support award will be the minimum amount established by the guideline schedule plus a percentage multiplied by the amount of income exceeding $10,000. [See Fla. Stat. 61.30(6)(b)]. These percentages are as follows:
- 1 minor child = 5 percent
- 2 minor children = 7.5 percent
- 3 minor children = 9.5 percent
- 4 minor children = 11.0 percent
- 5 minor children = 12.5 percent
- 6 minor children = 12.5 percent
However, the situation can be complicated when one or both parents have high net earnings because the court might not simply award this minimum amount of support. The court has the power to deviate from this amount based on a number of factors, so high net worth individuals might need to retain a financial expert to present evidence supporting or opposing this deviation. Because of the amount of money at stake and the relative complexity of determining child support in a case involving a high earning parent, legal representation from an attorney who handles high net worth divorces is imperative.
If you are the victim of domestic violence committed by a spouse or partner, you can pursue a protective order that could extend to you and your children depending on the circumstances. Domestic violence is a serious issue, but sometimes false allegations are used as a sword rather than a shield in a divorce or child custody dispute. Because domestic violence allegations can impact child custody arrangements and result in exclusion from the family home, you should seek immediate legal advice if you think domestic violence claims might be raised in your divorce.
The distribution of property in a divorce will have a profound impact on the standard of living and financial security of both spouses in the wake of a divorce. If you are involved in a high net worth divorce, the process of achieving an equitable distribution of marital property can be complicated. The valuation of a professional practice or family business might make it prudent to utilize the services of a business valuation expert. When your spouse attempts to undervalue or hide assets and streams of income, our law firm engages in the effective use of experts and the discovery process to protect our clients’ interest regarding the division of property during a divorce. High net worth divorces also are more likely to involve hard to value assets like stock options, art collections, antiques, and collectibles, so we often obtain experts and appraisals to ensure our clients are treated fairly.
Whether we are establishing parental rights for a father or the imposition of parental responsibility to pay child support for a mother, we work toward an amicable parenting plan and effective mechanisms of communication to promote workable and durable co-parenting solutions. A paternity action provides a method of establishing parentage, developing a parenting plan, and establishing child support responsibilities. We represent both fathers disputing paternity or the amount of a child support order and mothers seeking to maximize a support order to ensure their child enjoys the standard of living of the biological father.
Although a parenting plan agreed to by both parents is desirable in most situations, there are certain types of issues that tend to result in contested custody disputes. Parents frequently find it necessary or beneficial to relocate following a divorce to pursue educational or career opportunities, to seek support from extended family, or for other legitimate reasons. The proposed move away of the parent with whom the child resides can have an adverse impact on the parental access of the other parent. Our law firm has successfully advocated for the relocation of a parent and opposed the move of the residential parent depending on the situation.
Modification of Orders
While parenting plans, alimony, or child support orders can be modified after a final divorce decree or paternity action judgment, the process of modifying custody arrangements or alimony becomes more difficult. Modification issues often arise because of an injury or the trade of a professional athlete or the retirement of a doctor or other professional, but the parties must establish a substantial change of circumstances to modify the judgment. We anticipate these sorts of issues because we recognize that the income and availability of celebrities, professionals, and athletes can change significantly without warning. A parenting plan or alimony negotiated with these issues in mind can make it easier to avoid the challenge imposed by the substantial change of circumstances requirement.
Orlando Divorce FAQs
Although we have provided answers to a few common questions we receive from prospective clients, we invite you to contact us about your specific situation.
Can I represent myself in a high net worth divorce?
Parties to a divorce are not required to retain an attorney but proceeding without an attorney familiar with a high net worth divorce is strongly discouraged. Even if you believe you and your spouse have resolved all of your issues, you should obtain legal advice about your rights and the probable outcome if a judge decides the issue. An experienced Orlando divorce lawyer also can confirm that your proposed settlement does not include impermissible terms, such as a waiver of child support, and that the marital settlement agreement (MSA) accurately memorializes the terms of your agreement.
Will the court divide our property equally between both spouses?
Under Florida law, the judge will reach an “equitable distribution” of marital property and liabilities. The judge is directed to start from the premise that the division should be equal unless there is a basis for an unequal distribution based on a litany of statutory factors set forth in Fla Stat § 61.075(1). In simple terms, marital property refers to property acquired during the marriage other than by inheritance or gift to one spouse. However, the process of determining whether property is marital or separate can be complicated by assets with a mixed character, such as a retirement account that a spouse had before marriage but continues paying into with earnings during the marriage.
Can I agree to allow my spouse to have a greater share of the marital property in exchange for a waiver of child and spousal support?
A spouse can enter into a settlement wherein concessions are made in terms of the duration or amount of alimony in exchange for a more significant share of marital property. On the other hand, child support cannot be waived because the right to receive financial support from both parents is the right of the minor children of the relationship.
Criminal Defense in Orlando
When you are facing allegations of drug possession or sexual assault as a professional athlete, or Medicare fraud as a physician, your freedom, livelihood, and reputation are threatened. Because Orlando criminal defense attorney Beryl Thompson-McClary has built her reputation on the successful representation of pro athletes, celebrities, and other professionals, she recognizes that damage to her clients’ reputations can destroy their career and cost millions of dollars in future earnings. With so much at stake, our high-profile clients need a tenacious legal advocate with an awareness of these publicity and image concerns. While our law firm is favored by high profile individuals facing potentially career-ending criminal charges, we also represent other people who want an Orlando criminal defense attorney who will tenaciously challenge the prosecutor’s case, examine law enforcement procedures, and advocate for their rights. Some of the criminal offenses we handle include:
The best practice for small drug crimes like simple possession of a small amount of a controlled substance generally is to avoid publicity. Criminal cases involving major international celebrities inevitably end up in the news. However, we know that settlement through a plea bargain with diversion can prevent our client’s arrest on a drug charge from becoming ongoing fodder for tabloid media and paparazzi outlets.
While a P.R. firm and publicist also will be important when you are charged with more serious drug offenses, you also could face a felony record, incarceration in jail or prison, and other penalties. Our firm represents individuals from all walks of life charged with the full range of drug offenses that include:
- Drug Possession
- Drug Distribution
- Drug Manufacturing
- Marijuana Cultivation
- Drug Trafficking
When clients retain Beryl Thompson-McClary to defend against serious drug charges, they benefit from her skill as a former state prosecutor who has handled over 350 jury trials. She carefully tailors her defense strategy to the specific charged offense and the facts and circumstances after an investigation. Some of the defenses she might employ include:
- Seeking suppression of drugs, paraphernalia, cash, or other evidence obtained in an unlawful search
- Lack of ownership or control over the controlled substances
- Faulty analysis by the crime lab
- Exclusion of statements obtained through unlawful coercion or in violation of Miranda
White-Collar Criminal Offenses
Charges of embezzlement, fraud, or other white-collar crimes can jeopardize your professional career, liberty, and reputation. Our managing partner is an Orlando criminal defense attorney who has handled hundreds of criminal trials as well as many administrative hearings. She has the specialized skill set and depth of knowledge to handle complex and sensitive government investigations and white-collar crime cases. Our law firm has a record of established success representing corporations and executives in cases involving fraud, embezzlement, healthcare fraud, tax fraud, securities fraud, and other criminal offenses often charged against professionals and executives.
When our criminal defense law firm is retained early in the investigation process, criminal defense lawyer Beryl Thompson-McClary can often impact the charging decision. Her proactive approach can result in fewer and lesser charges or encourage a civil proceeding rather than a criminal prosecution. Although she has a proven record of successful jury trials, attorney Thompson-McClary also has successfully persuaded many prosecutors not to pursue a criminal prosecution and to achieve favorable confidential settlements.
Crimes of Violence
Regardless of whether a person is a celebrity or not, any charge of a crime of violence must be taken seriously. Because criminal offenses like rape, sexual battery, assault and battery, robbery, and murder involve actual physical harm, or the immediate threat of harm, law enforcement authorities and prosecutors are especially vigilant in pursuing convictions and lengthy sentences for this type of criminal offense. Allegations of rape or sexual assault by a party with improper motives, such as financial gain or a strategic advantage in a divorce, can have a devastating impact on your life. We carefully investigate such allegations to unveil defense strategies that might include:
- Exposing contamination of forensic evidence
- Tenaciously Cross-Examining Adverse Witnesses
- Revealing Improper Motives or Bias of the Complaining Witness
- Seeking Exclusion of Illegally Obtained Evidence
Driving Under the Influence (DUI)
Orlando DUI defense lawyer Beryl Thompson-McClary has a proven record of protecting the reputation and future of public and private figures charged with driving under the influence (DUI). When we receive a late-night call from the agent of a professional athlete, entertainer, or another high-profile individual, we work diligently to keep our clients out of jail and out of the news. We have the knowledge, advanced creative strategies, and relationships to discretely handle DUI charges involving alcohol or drugs. We use our expertise in handling high-profile criminal cases to turn potential PR disasters into media non-events. If the paparazzi cannot obtain footage or the celebrity photos they are after, negative stories often wither on the vine. Orlando DUI attorney Thompson-McClary’s reputation of success in trying hundreds of cases and her familiarity with local prosecutors and judges can result in the dismissal or reduction of charges.
Orlando Criminal Defense Frequently Asked Questions
Can I use a public defender rather than retain a private attorney?
The public defender program only includes individuals with an extremely low income, so most people do not qualify. Even if you do qualify, public defenders usually have heavy caseloads and limited resources, which might preclude expensive forensic testing or experts. Most people have urgent questions when they are charged with a misdemeanor or felony, but public defenders usually will have limited time for client meetings.
Should I agree to let the police search my office, vehicle, or home?
The 4th Amendment provides protection against unreasonable search and seizures, and individuals should not waive these protections by consenting to a search. Even if law enforcement authorities would otherwise be conducting an illegal search based on a lack of probable cause, failure to obtain a warrant, or a search beyond the scope of a warrant, consent to the search can nullify these deficiencies. In other words, consent can result in evidence being used against you that would have been excluded if you had not agreed to the search.
What should I do if I am arrested by the police?
Whether you are arrested or merely questioned by the police, you should clearly indicate that you do not have anything to say and want an attorney present. Although the police might lead you to believe that your cooperation might improve your situation, the exact opposite is the truth. The officer’s role is to obtain as much information as possible that can be used to prosecute you or to uncover other incriminating evidence. The best way to improve for a positive outcome is to remain silent and obtain immediate legal advice from an experienced Orlando criminal defense attorney.
Personal Injury Claims in Orlando, Florida
Whether you are injured in a motor vehicle accident, a slip and fall accident in a grocery store, or an unsafe product, you typically must deal with an insurance company focused on denying or lowballing valid claims. Our experienced Florida personal injury law firm offers the skill and experience you need in your corner when faced with adjusters, insurance defense lawyers, experts, and the virtually unlimited resources of a large insurance company.
We have recovered millions of dollars in settlements and verdicts for injured victims and families that have lost loved ones because of the wrongful conduct of individuals, businesses, and government entities. Orlando personal injury lawyer Beryl Thompson-McClary works with highly respected experts in medicine, accident reconstruction, consumer safety, and many other disciplines. Attorney Thompson-McClary uses her 28 years of litigation experience to anticipate insurance company strategies and to guide her investigation of personal injury claims, so she can pursue the fullest financial recovery for her clients.
Our law firm handles a broad range of personal injury and wrongful death claims in Orlando and the surrounding areas. Examples of some of the injury claims we handle include:
Traffic Accidents: Our Orlando motor vehicle accident lawyers work with an esteemed list of experts and experienced investigators to craft the most compelling claim for trial against negligent parties and their insurers. We understand the unique issues special to all types of vehicle injury litigation, including but not limited to the following:
- Car Accidents
- Motorcycle Accidents
- Tractor-Trailer Collisions
- Pedestrian Accidents
Cruise Ship Accidents & Injuries: When you are injured during a cruise, you must navigate an array of special issues, so you need an experienced Orlando cruise injury attorney. Restrictions imposed in the passenger ticket contract typically will force you into federal court and impose short deadlines for commencement of a lawsuit, waivers, and other obstacles.
Nursing Home Abuse: When families entrust their loved ones to the care of a nursing home, they have a right to expect they will receive proper medical care, nutrition, hydration, medication, socialization, and even supervision if appropriate. When we represent nursing home residents that are victims of abuse and neglect, we conduct a thorough investigation of facility practices, staffing levels, nursing home records, past violations, and other relevant evidence.
Work Injuries: Whether you are an NFL player suffering from chronic traumatic encephalopathy or a construction worker that falls from a scaffolding, experienced Orlando workplace injury lawyer Beryl Thompson-McClary pursues the fullest compensation. She often accomplishes this goal by pursuing a worker’s compensation claim against an injured individual’s employer along with a personal injury claim against responsible third parties.
Choosing a Personal Injury Attorney
Selection of your personal injury attorney will have a significant impact on the outcome of your legal claim for damages. You might find it convenient to retain an attorney who previously drafted your will or reviewed a contract for your company. However, the substantive law, procedural requirements, evidentiary rules, and other complex aspects of a personal injury claim make it essential to be represented by Orlando personal injury attorneys who have experience and a proven track record handling serious injury cases. Although any attorney licensed to practice law in Florida can handle your personal injury claim, the breadth of knowledge and skill needed to effectively litigate personal injury claims makes it difficult for a law firm that does not regularly handle such claims to be effective.
The process of retaining the services of a personal injury lawyer involves consideration of a range of factors that should include:
- Years of experience handling personal injury litigation
- Significant settlements and verdicts obtained in past injury cases
- Specific background handling similar types of negligence cases
- Success and time spent as a trial attorney
- Access to top experts and substantial litigation resources
Insurance carriers have a greater incentive to reach a fair settlement when an injury victim is represented by an experienced and proven Orlando personal injury lawyer who is prepared to take a case to trial. The cost of defense and risk of a large trial verdict provides a strong incentive to the insurer to settle on terms favorable to the injury victim. Since attorney Beryl Thompson-McClary has handled over 350 trials, insurance companies know she is prepared to take cares to trial.
Personal Injury Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Because many people injured by the negligence of others engage in actions that undermine their legal claim to financial compensation prior to retaining legal representation, we have provided answers to some frequently asked questions.
Can I settle my claim by negotiating directly with the other driver’s insurance company?
While you can certainly elect to negotiate directly with the other party’s insurance adjuster, this approach means that no one with experience determining the value of a claim, insurance company traps, or legal hurdles will be protecting your interest. The legal claims process is complicated, and many mistakes can compromise the value of your lawsuit or derail your claim entirely. If you contact a well-regarded personal injury lawyer prior to discussing your case with the other party or his or her insurance company, you might avoid critical missteps like providing a recorded statement, failing to comply with the statute of limitations, accepting a premature lowball settlement, or signing other documents that compromise your legal rights or recovery.
Are there deadlines that might affect my legal rights to financial recovery?
The legal process is governed by many limitations on time and mandatory procedures. Failure to comply with these requirements can have a devastating impact on your lawsuit. If you do not file your lawsuit before the expiration of the statute of limitations, this will almost always constitute a bar to pursuing your legal claim. When a government entity like a city, county, or the State of Florida is responsible for your injury, you must provide written notice of your claim before commencing a lawsuit. If you do not comply with this requirement in a timely manner, you usually will be barred from suing the public entity. Because the governmental subdivision that caused your injury usually will have more insurance coverage and funds to pay a settlement or judgment than an individual, satisfying the requirements for suing a government entity is very important.
What if I cannot afford to hire an attorney?
Our Orlando law firm takes most personal injury claims on a contingency fee basis. This billing arrangement generally means that we advance most or all of the costs of litigation. You only owe attorney fees under this arrangement if we obtain a recovery through judgment or settlement. Your attorney fees will be a percentage of the recovery as articulated in our attorney-client retainer agreement.
Call the Law Offices of Beryl Thompson-McClary P.A. Today
We have law offices in Orlando and practice in Orange, Seminole, Osceola, Lake, Brevard and Volusia counties. To schedule a free initial consultation with an attorney, you can call our office at 888-640-2999 for your free initial consultation.
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