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A North Florida Family Law Firm With Heart

Sussman, Johnson & Alvarez Family Law, located in Jacksonville, Florida, and practicing throughout North Florida, is a family law firm with a thorough and common-sense approach. Our attorneys are dedicated to helping families navigate family law issues. We are driven by results, but never lose focus in the importance of preserving family relationships. Learn more about the people on our exceptional team.

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Our Team

Stephanie Sussman

Born and raised in Jacksonville, Stephanie is the founder of the family law office Sussman, Johnson & Alvarez Family Law. After receiving undergraduate degrees in psychology and sociology from the University of Georgia and a master’s degree in Counseling Psychology from the University of North Florida, Stephanie completed her Juris Doctorate with honors in 2007 at Florida Coastal School of Law. Stephanie has been a member of the Florida Bar since 2007 and is also a Florida Supreme Court Certified Family Mediator. She is currently also on the executive committee of the Florida Family Law American Inn of Court and is the President of the Board of Directors for the Family Nurturing Center of Florida. Named a rising star in family law by Florida Super Lawyers in 2010, her practice focuses exclusively on family law matters.
Client Champion award

Preeminent award

SuperLawyers award

Katherine Johnson

Katherine (“Katie”) Johnson became board certified as a specialist in marital and family law by the Florida Bar’s Board of Legal Specialization & Education in 2021. Katie joins only 10 other attorneys in Northeast Florida, including members of the judiciary, that have earned this elite certification. Katie is also one of the youngest attorneys in Jacksonville to achieve this milestone.

Strategically-minded and purpose-driven, Katie’s clients agree she is “engaged and honest,” and is “thorough, knowledgeable of the law, compassionate, and tough when needed.” After graduating cum laude from FSU with a degree in business management, she earned her law degree and a certificate degree in Family Law advocacy from Florida Coastal School of Law. Katie gained indispensable knowledge while clerking at the Fourth District Court of Appeal and was admitted to the Florida Bar in 2012. Prior to joining Sussman Johnson & Alvarez Family Law, Katie worked at Zisser Family Law for over 6 years where she attained invaluable experience working with long-time mentors Barry and Elliot Zisser.

Katie’s law practice focuses exclusively on Family Law, specifically complicated divorce, alimony, and child custody cases. Her expertise lies in conflict resolution, long-term support claims, business valuation or asset tracing issues, or situations involving the safety and wellbeing of children. When needed, Katie joins forces with other expert professionals such as financial advisors, accountants, business valuators, psychologists, and other professionals to effectively present and defend all claims.

During an initial consultation, Katie discusses the legal process and strategic litigation, including investigating and preserving hidden income and assets. She explains the pros and cons of going to trial and the outcomes clients can reasonably expect if the case is ultimately decided by the court. Clients find out if it is in their best interest to settle through early negotiations or mediation. While this process may seem obvious, many lawyers fail to educate clients on such reasonable solutions, and as a result, waste precious time and money.

Katie has authored and lectured on child custody and business valuation issues featured by the Florida Bar Journal and Florida Bar’s Family Law Section. She is a member of the Family Law Section of the Florida Bar and has served on the executive committee of the Florida Family Law American Inn of Court for 4 terms, including the present. She was named a Rising Star by Attorney at Law magazine in 2020 and recognized for two consecutive years in the 2021 and 2022 editions of the Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch for her work in Family Law.

Katie was born and raised in South Florida but has called Jacksonville home for the last decade. She and her husband are the proud parents of two young daughters and a French bulldog.

Focus Areas

  • Marital and Family Law, Board Certified 2021


  • AVVO Rating 8.9
  • “Ones to Watch” by Best Lawyers (Edition Years 2021-2022)
  • “Rising Star” by Attorney at Law magazine (profiled in October 2020 issue)


  • Florida Family Law American Inns of Court, Executive Board (2017-2020; 2021- current)
  • Jacksonville Bar Association, Member

Publications & Presentations

  • Co-author, Chapter 742 & The UCCJEA: Is Childbirth an Unbridled Key to Forum Shopping, Florida Bar Journal, January 2012.
  • Co-Presenter, Business Valuation and Uncertainty, Florida Bar’s Family Law Section, October 2020.

best lawyers to watch 2022

Florida Bar certification

Joseph Alvarez

A gifted communicator who is action-oriented, Joe consistently receives high marks from his clients. Joe started his legal career nine years ago as a freshman in college, working for a prominent Workers Compensation firm. While earning his Criminal Justice undergraduate degree, Joe developed a passion for Family Law. He clerked for almost five years at a firm focused extensively on Family Law cases. Joe graduated with honors from Valdosta State University, then attended Florida Coastal School of Law in 2013, while at the same time clerked for Zisser, Brown, Nowlis & Cabrey, P.A., in Jacksonville Florida. He was admitted to the Florida Bar in 2016 and officially accepted an associate position at Zisser Family Law, PLLC where he focused primarily on family law matters. Joe worked as an associate attorney at the Zisser firm for 5 years, handling his own caseload that involved complex family law matters, before partnering with Stephanie Sussman and Katherine Johnson.

Organized and astute, Joe’s clients applaud his energy, focus, and well-thought approach. His many talents include an exceptional memory that ensures commitment to detail, an ability to work efficiently and effectively to obtain the best results for his clients, and a sense of complete composure and professionalism. Joe specializes in all types of family law cases involving everything from adoption and child custody to complex financial issues that may occur in a family law case. Joe always seeks to resolve his cases in mediation but is experienced in bringing cases to trial if necessary.

Joe was born in Connecticut but raised in Georgia. Joe is an engaging presenter and published author of Family Law-related topics. He serves on the Executive Committee for the Family Law American Inns of Court and dedicates time serving in the community. He speaks at the Jacksonville Legal Aide about Family Law issues and is involved with the Veterans Administration Clinic, which provides legal advice to Veterans who are in need. He is a member of Good Standing of the Florida Bar. Joe enjoys spending time with his wife, Kelsey Alvarez (who he met in law school), and spending time with their families when he is not practicing law. Joe is a passionate sports fanatic, especially when it comes to watching professional baseball and football.

Focus Areas

  • Marital and Family Law


  • American Bar Association Student Scholarship recipient, Florida Coastal School of Law
  • Dean Merit Scholarship for Academic Performance recipient
  • “Ones to Watch” by Best Lawyers (Edition Years 2021-2022)
  • “Avvo Client’s Choice Award” (awarded in 2021)


  • Florida Family Law American Inns of Court, Executive Committee
vickie barnes

Vickie Barnes

As the office administrator for Sussman, Johnson & Alvarez Family Law, Vickie keeps the ship afloat. She has worked with Stephanie for over a decade, managing most of the administrative and clerical tasks for the office. When you call our family law office, Vickie's voice will usually be the first one you hear. When she is not helping you, she takes great pleasure in spending time with her husband, children, and grandchildren.

Yomary Ambrosiani

Born and raised in Puerto Rico, Yomari moved to Jacksonville when she was 20 years old.

I started working in family law in 2014. I became Katie's legal assistant/paralegal in January 2020, but we have worked together since about 2013 (other firms). When I'm not at work, I enjoy spending time with my family. We love going to the beach and out of town for racing events and car shows.

When Yomari isn't busy at work, she's busy taking care of her family, which includes her 15-year-old son, two dogs, two guinea pigs, and a chameleon.

Erin Southerland

Erin Bowden Southerland

Erin Southerland is an associate at Sussman, Johnson & Alvarez Family Law. Her practice focuses on complex family law matters including equitable distribution, monetary support, time sharing/parental responsibility, modifications, and contempt/enforcement issues. Erin provides efficient and professional representation to family law clients at all stages of litigation and mediation.

Erin graduated with honors from The Florida State University in 2013 with her undergraduate degree in international affairs and completed her Juris Doctorate in 2016 at The University of Akron School of Law. During law school, Erin worked on perfecting her legal research, writing, and oral advocacy skills. Erin has been a member of the Florida Bar since 2018 and her practice focuses exclusively on family law matters. Erin is dedicated to providing representation that is tailored to the unique needs and circumstances of each client. A talented negotiator and litigator, Erin's ability in and out of the courtroom instills confidence in her clients. She is a creative thinker who develops solutions to complicated problems.

Erin happily resides in Jacksonville with her husband and Labrador. When she is not working with clients, Erin enjoys traveling, spending time with her big extended family, and attending as many Florida State football games as possible.

Emily Long


Emily graduated Magna Cum Laude with a degree in paralegal studies 16 years ago. Prior to joining Sussman, Johnson & Alvarez Family Law, she worked as a paralegal primarily focusing on bankruptcy and debt settlement matters. Additionally, Emily was the former ombudsman of her husband's Navy command, where she would help serve the spouses who were in need during deployments.

Emily has lived in many different states and has gained invaluable experience throughout her career. With her husband now retired, she and her family have officially called Jacksonville home. When she is not in the office, she enjoys playing with her three dogs and spending time at the hockey rink with her family.

Mia Peno


Sara McDaniel

Associate Attorney

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