Matthew J. Ausley represents clients in litigation related to collections, business, real estate, and family law.
Matt brings almost a decade of business experience with him to Anchors Smith Grimsley, and employs a common-sense, business-like attitude in his law practice.
As an entrepreneur, Matt has owned and managed two businesses; a pressure washing company, which was sold, and a collection agency which he still owns. Matt’s career started as a manager of a finance company branch with a $10 million loan portfolio and over 800 customers.
Next, he accepted a position with Sage pursuing advanced collections. In those endeavors, Matt earned several promotions and multiple awards for excellence in sales and leadership.
While in law school, Matt interned at Holland & Knight and with the Hon. Joel B. Toomey, a Federal Magistrate Judge. At law school, Matt served as a Student Ambassador for the school and a Research Assistant to Professor Peter Marchetti, for Contracts and Bankruptcy.
Matt graduated cum laude with a certificate for legal research and writing and was admitted to the Florida Bar in 2015.
On a personal note, Matt has a wonderful wife, Kristin, and two young boys. Matt chairs Safe Connections, a non-profit serving local children, and is a former chair the Niceville and the Fort Walton young professional organizations. Matt is an active member of Crosspoint Church, the Okaloosa and Walton County Bar Associations, and the Fort Walton & Niceville Chambers of Commerce. He enjoys hobby mechanics, SEC football, and reading.
- Family Law
- Business Law
- Real Estate Law
- Construction Law
- Landlord Tenant
- Free Consultation
Free consultations are by phone only, last for 10 minutes, and require an appointment. Typically, those appointments are set between 5:00 and 6:00 p.m. The purpose of a free consultation is for you to acquire some general information about your legal situation and decide whether you need representation. I do not give legal advise during a free consultation.
- Credit Cards Accepted
- Contingent Fees
- Anchors Smith Grimsley, PLC
- - Current
- The Critzer Law Firm
- U.S. District Court
- Holland & Knight
- Florida Coastal School of Law
- J.D. (2014) | Law
- Honors: cum laude
- Asbury College
- B.A. (2004) | Business Management
- Above and Beyond Service
- FCSL Student Ambassadors
- Walton County Bar Association
- - Current
- The Florida Bar # 0117362
- - Current
- Okaloosa Bar Association
- - Current
- Anchors Smith Grimsley
- Q. I purchased a used car a month and a half ago. The check engine lite is on and it leaks oil. Can I return it?
- A: The state of Florida has a “Lemon Law” which may apply in your situation. Essentially, you will deal directly with the car’s manufacture to have your car fixed or get your money back. You can find out more information on the process by going to the website of the Florida Office of the Attorney General. It is important that you continue to make your payments during the process if you want to protect your credit. You should also consider retaining an attorney to represent you in the process. It is possible to make a Lemon Law claim as a DIY project if you are very organized, willing to put significant time into researching and understanding the process, and can stay focused on following up and not missing any of the critical steps required to succeed with your claim. Good luck.
- Q. What are your tips for buying a used car in Florida?
- A: When buying a used car, one of the best things you can do is take the car to an independent mechanic and have them conduct a thorough inspection of the vehicle, BEFORE YOU PURCHASE. Used cars are almost always sold in an “as is” condition. That means you get the car in whatever condition it is in, no warranty or guarantee. You can expect to pay $150 or so for a good inspection. However, this information is very valuable if it saves you from purchasing something with discoverable issues. You can also use that information to negotiate for a lower price. Even if you could negotiate a warranty on a used car, it would be very difficult to enforce that against an individual person. So, when someone says a car is in mint condition, that statement is meaningless. Have the vehicle inspected before you buy. That is the best way to minimize risk.
- Q. We loaned $5500 to a bus assoc on 10/20/14 w/principal to be paid in full 4/20/15. They defaulted, what is our recourse
- A: The first part is relatively straight forward and simple. You need to hire an attorney to file suit for breach of contract and obtain a money judgment against the company and the individuals if you had personal guarantees. Hopefully, your Note contained an attorney’s fee provision, so you can get your fees for obtaining the judgment. Once you have a money judgment things get a bit more complicated. Your attorney will have to begin the process of post-judgment collection. Usually, an attorney will conduct some discovery and identify key assets upon which you can levy. Once assets have been identified, your attorney will ask the sheriff to assist in obtaining them and selling them. If the company has bank accounts, your attorney can garnish those. Sometimes, these collections are quick and easy, sometimes they are difficult. But an experienced attorney will guide you through the process and should be able to tell you, fairly early on, how likely you are to recover fully. Good luck!
- Q. What is the proper way to attempt to settle a judgement with a debt collector?
- A: There is no one right way to settle a debt. Each situation is going to be unique based on the facts and circumstances. However, there are some general guidelines that may be helpful. Because you used the word “debt” I am going to assume we are in a pre-judgment situation. This means that the creditor has not yet sued you and obtained a judgment against you. A debt is just a contract between two parties wherein the parties agree to exchange money for repayment with interest. Usually, the contract is written because you borrowed from a bank. But, if you borrowed from a friend or family, the contract may not be written down. Whether the contract is written or oral, the party that lent the money has the right to enforce the terms of the contract in a court and obtain a judgment against you. Once the lender obtains a judgment, depending on state law, they can take part of your wages and assets (subject to many exceptions) to satisfy the judgment. Now, that process is expensive and time consuming, so they may be willing to alter the terms of the agreement in order to save time and money. These are just a tiny few of the factors that go into these decisions. You can use your imagination to think of many more. Industry standards for debt collection settlements range from 50%-80% of what is owed if the debtor pays in a lump sum. However, these percentages could be significantly different depending on what the debt is. For instance, if the debt is a mortgage secured by real property (like a house) it is unlikely that the lender is going to give you a significant discount in the principal owed. They will simply foreclose and chase you for the deficiency (the difference between what you owe and what the property sells for in foreclosure). Conversely, if you wrote a bad check, they might take 30% and call it a day. Other factors like your ability to pay, amount of the debt, security, how long the debt is past due, and many others, influence what a creditor may settle for. So how do you do it? How do you settle? I like to do it in writing. Draft a nice letter telling your lender why you can’t pay and emphasizing how unlikely it is that you will have more money in the future. Be respectful, honest, and keep it short and simple. Conclude the letter by saying that you have included a check to settle the debt in full, and they may accept your proposed settlement by cashing the check within one week (specify a date). Also, ask for a receipt and confirmation that the debt has been settled in full. If your offer is reasonable, they may cash the check, and the debt will be settled. Make sure you keep a copy of the letter for your records. If you didn’t offer enough, they may return your check and ask for more money. This strategy does carry with it a certain amount of risk that the debt collector will cash the check and continue to try to collect on the remainder of the debt. However, such action would be a violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). Always avoid talking to debt collectors on the phone. They are good at what they do and will convince you to make payments that you might not make after sober consideration. If you make them put everything in writing, it will keep them honest, and you will not feel unreasonable pressure. There is a lot more to negotiation and debt settlement, but these are some of the basics.
- Q. How can I divorce someone who blocked me on everything, lives out of state, and refuses to sign anything
- A: If you file for divorce, and you have your spouse properly served, you will get divorced if your spouse does not respond. Your spouse will have 20 days after service to respond to the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. If the spouse fails to respond, and you ask the clerk to default him/her, you will get everything you asked for in the Petition as long as the court has jurisdiction and the things you requested are not outside the bounds of law and equity. Essentially, relief requested must have a basis in the law and not be totally unreasonable. However, nonresponsive spouses have a way of becoming very responsive once they are served. Although it is nice when you can get a default, it is also rare.
- Q. How do I qualify for a pro bono divorce (very simple, no kids, property, no assets. .... nothing.....) I am on ssd. Ty
- A: The Latin phrase “pro bono publico” means “for the public good.” In common usage, it describes a situation wherein an attorney takes a case, free of charge, because they believe doing so would benefit the public in some way. Many attorneys take pro bono cases because they have a special interest in that practice area, or in the type of person who needs help. There are no special, absolute, or exact qualifications one must possess to receive help from an attorney. However, many attorneys and legal-aid organizations may have some minimum qualifications or qualifying factors they consider. A good place to start looking for help is to search for local legal-aid organizations, contact the Florida Bar, contact local attorneys, and contact other charitable organizations. The best thing a person can do to qualify for legal aid, or any kind of aid, is to volunteer and join charitable organizations. If you are a member of a church, community group, charity, or legal-aid organization and frequently give of your time to help others, you will find others willing to help you in your time of need. Give and ye shall receive. Speaking for myself, I am a member of a local church, and I help one church member at a time. When the representation concludes, I start a new one. I do not think I will ever run out of well deserving church members who need help. An unfortunate fact of life is that legal services are astonishingly expensive. There are far more people, who need legal help but cannot afford legal services, than there are attorneys who can help those people free of charge. So, what you will need to tell someone is why you deserve to receive thousands of dollars of free services to the exclusion of the long line of people before and behind you who will not be served if you are served. It is sad but true.
- Q. How can i divorce my husband who is homeless
- A: In order to sue someone, including for divorce, the person bringing the lawsuit has to notify the person being sued. This notification is called “service of process.” There is more than one way to accomplish it. However, when you suspect that the other party is homeless, and there is no way to find them, a common way to give that person notice is through publication in a newspaper that circulates in a county in which the person is likely to see it. If you want to accomplish service through publication, you must make a formal request to the Court, which requires a written motion and supporting affidavit addressing specific statutory elements. The court will then (hopefully) issue an order granting your motion and allowing you to run your “notice of action” in the newspaper, once a week for 4 weeks. After that, if the other party doesn’t respond, you can ask the clerk (with a written motion) to default the other party. After a clerk’s default is entered, you can move for a final judgment after default. Now, there is more than one way to skin a cat, but this is a traditional and common way to divorce a homeless person.
- Q. If divorce is necessary, which spouse will be paying for filing fee. Is the one that file first or both
- A: To answer your question: the person who files a Petition pays the filing fee. Attorneys usually recommend that the person who didn’t initially file the Petition (called the Respondent) file a Counter-Petition, which also requires a filing fee. That being said, if you are going to get divorced, who pays the filing fee should be the least of your concern. Typically, in Florida, parties both get timesharing and parental responsibility. Typically, exceptions to that rule involve abuse, neglect, or drugs. That means that the two of you will have to work together for the next 17-18 years to raise your child. Compared to the time, effort, and money involved in doing that, a filing fee is meaningless. You need to hire a competent attorney that can help you obtain a favorable parenting plan that protects your parental rights and clearly lays out the responsibilities of both parents. Unless you want to be back in court a lot, and you don’t want that, the parenting plan you fashion during the divorce will govern your relationship with your future ex-spouse for the better part of two decades. It’s important that the parenting plan be done right. What you do in the divorce is going to have a tremendous impact on your life for a long time.