PENSACOLA — For 16 years, lawyer Autumn Blackledge has been handling cases in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties. Three years ago, she started her own firm with a focus on family law.
Blackledge’s practice covers every legal issue from the cradle to the grave, she said.
Dependency and Department of Children and Families hearings
Child custody and time-shearing
Child support modifications
Pre-suit family law mediation
“My niche is high-conflict custody negotiation,” she said. An example is parents who don't get along and cases involving nonpayment of child support or abuse.
In such situations, honesty is necessary, so she is blunt with clients.
“I will call them crazy...," she said. "I’m not going to tell clients what they want to hear, especially in cases with kids.”
Through the years, the Blackledge law firm has kept up with society's changing values.
“Families are complicated," she said. For instance, a man may cheat on his wife and have a child out of wedlock but he and his wife will choose to stay together. So they may want a postnuptial agreement.
The firm was one of the first in Florida to handle a transgender dissolution of marriage.
“It resulted in 50-50 time sharing, (child custody). We had a good judge, good parties, and good lawyers. It was amicable and respectful,” she said.
“We’re working on the next big thing: commitment contracts,” Blackledge said. “A lot of millennials are committing but not marrying … People are sharing money, buying dogs together, having kids, getting mail to the same place. It mirrors family law.”
Blackledge grew up in a nuclear family with a brother and with parents married 44 years, but she recognizes families come in various arrangements.
“Families have always been unique," she said. "Society has just become more accepting of unique families. Family law is not one size fits all.”
Blackledge’s staff itself is geared around family, with 14 children represented by her staff. The children, who are old enough, help in the office in the afternoons and the summers, according to Blackledge. One staff member recently had a baby and will bring the child in with her to the office, Blackledge said.
Having a support system is critical, especially when big cases arise, she said.
“We just finished a five-day trial, a complex child custody case," she said. "We had all hands on deck. If there’s a big case, everything is on pause. There’s a whole group that stands in the gap when we take on stuff for clients.”
The Autumn Beck Blackledge office is located at 127 Palafox Place, Suite 100 in Pensacola. Call 466-3115, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit autumnobeck.com for more information.