Sarah Chaves was born in Biloxi, Mississippi. She received a B.A. degree in 1971 from Midwestern State University, Wichita Falls, Texas, and earned her law degree, cum laude, from Stetson University College of Law in 1982. In law school, Sarah served as a Notes and Comments Editor of the Stetson Law Review. Sarah has been a member of The Florida Bar since 1982, and has also been admitted to practice in the Middle District of Florida Federal District Court and the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals.
She is Peer Rated for Highest Level of Professional Excellence, AV Preeminent, and has been consistently for years. As stated by Martindale-Hubbell®, "Peer Review Ratings™ are the gold standard in attorney ratings, and have been for more than a century. These unpaid ratings indicate attorneys who are widely respected by their peers for their ethical standards and legal expertise in a specific area of practice."
Prior to founding her law firm in January 1996, Sarah served as a law clerk to Chief Judge Herboth S. Ryder of the Florida Second District Court of Appeals. She practiced family, civil, and appellate law as a shareholder in Baynard, Harrell, Mascara & Ostow, P.A. and Ostow & Chaves, P.A. Since 1996, Sarah has practiced exclusively in the area of family law.
Professionally, Sarah has served on various Florida Bar committees including, Individual Rights and Responsibility Committee, Family Law Rules Committee, Mental Health Professionals and Litigation Committee, Family Law CLE, Family Law Ethics and Attorney's Fees, and Family Law Section. She also served on a Grievance Committee for the Florida bar and served as an arbitrator on the Sixth Circuit Attorneys' Fee Arbitration Committee for five years. She is a founding and continuous member of the Canakaris Inn of Court, the first Inn of Court in Florida devoted exclusively to the study of family law, was president in 2001, and served on the executive committee for most of her membership. Sarah has been an active member of the St. Petersburg Bar Association as a member of the Family Law Section, Professional Responsibility Committee, Membership Committee, Bench & Bar Committee, Media Committee, and Diversity Committee. She has also been a member of the Clearwater Bar Association, the Clearwater Bar Family Law Section, West Pasco Bar Association, Pinellas County Chapter of Florida Association of Women Lawyers, and Pinellas County Trial Lawyers Association.
In addition to her professional legal activities, Sarah graduated from the St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce Leadership St. Pete Program in 1993 and served as a Planning Committee Member. She served on the St. Petersburg YMCA Board of Directors, the St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce KidsArt Committee and as an American Heart Association Walk-A-Thon group leader. She served on the Leadership St. Pete Alumni Board and as treasurer of the St. Petersburg Community Alliance, Government Committee Chairman and Co-Chair. She served in the St. Petersburg Police Council, and is a member of NAACP. She is a former member of the Board of Directors of PACE Center for Girls in Pinellas County founded in 1997 and served as Vice President and Secretary. She has been a member of the St. Petersburg Mid-Day Chapter of Business and Professional Women, American Association of University Women, and National Organization of Women.