LGBT FAMILY LAW

Given the current state of the laws in Florida, members of the LGBT community often wonder where to turn for advice and help on handling family law issues. Family Diplomacy prides itself on offering an open, friendly, and supportive environment for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals. We will strive to find a solution that is tailored to you and your family’s needs.

COLLABORATIVE FAMILY LAW FOR SAME SEX SPOUSES AND PARTNERS

Rather than go through the public adversarial court system to resolve personal family matters, Family Diplomacy recommends that Tampa Bay same sex spouses and partners utilize the private, respectful dispute resolution process of Collaborative Family Law.

In the Collaborative Process, attorneys are retained solely to settle disputes privately and are contractually barred from bringing contested issues to be decided by a judge. A facilitator, who is normally a trained mental health professional, is engaged to keep everyone focused on the best interests of the family and the children, if any, and to keep communication respectful and productive. A financial professional is involved to help untangle the combined assets and debts of the parties (under Florida and Federal law, this can be an especially technical undertaking for same sex relationships) and provide options for support.

Adam B. Cordover is an internationally-recognized leader and trainer in collaborative practice.  He has presented on the topic of the use of collaborative practice for LGBT families in Florida to judges, attorneys, mental health professionals, and financial professionals in Tampa, Sarasota, and Orlando.  He is also a co-author of an upcoming American Bar Association book on collaborative family law.

What is Gestational Surrogacy?

If you are a married couple looking to bring a child into your life but cannot conceive yourselves, you may be a candidate for gestational surrogacy.

Gestational surrogacy is a legally recognized process and alternative to traditional child birth. A couple contracts with a woman (also known as a “surrogate”) who will give birth to a child. The couple will use their own sperm and/or egg, with or without donated genetic materials, to create a fertilized egg. The fertilized egg will then be transferred to the surrogate. There is no biological connection between the surrogate and the fertilized egg. This means that the surrogate has no legal rights to the child that is born. The couple quickly become the legal parents to the newborn child.

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Cordover & Gaies Present on LGBTQ Families & Relationships

On August 11, 2017, psychologist and collaborative facilitator Jeremy Gaies joined collaborative attorney and mediator Adam B. Cordover to present on the topic of “LGBTQ Relationships:  The New Family and Out-of-Court Dispute Resolution.”  Gaies and Cordover facilitated the LGBTQ families workshop at the 25th Annual Conference of Florida’s Dispute Resolution Center.

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Purpose of LGBTQ Families Workshop

The purpose of the workshop was threefold:

  1. Identify specific legal and other considerations for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) individuals and families;
  2. Engage in discussion of various out-of-court options to meet LGBTQ needs; and
  3. Consider new and future legal challenges for LGBTQ clients and the family law community.

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Trans Name Change in Tampa Bay

Do you want your legal identity to match who you are?  At Family Diplomacy, we have been a cutting edge law firm serving the needs of LGBT clients.  We can help you apply for a change of your legal name and gender marker to sync with your gender identity.  In sum, we can help you with a trans name change.

Trans Name Change

Though Florida is often behind the times, with name changes the state is pretty liberal.  So long as your civil rights are not suspended, and you are not seeking a change of name for an illegal or ulterior purpose, your petition of change of name can be granted by a circuit court judge.

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Prenuptial Agreements for Same-Sex Couples

In the aftermath of the turbulent election season, are you and your partner seeking to add stability to your lives by tying the knot?  Have you been in a long-term relationship and are now seeking to formalize and get legal recognition for it?

You may want to consider getting a prenuptial agreement.  You and your partner may have a certain way of handling your finances.  Do you wish to keep certain funds separate to maintain a degree of independence?  Do you want to keep other funds joint for your mutual enjoyment?  Do you want to clarify which of your assets should be considered non-marital and which should be seen as common property?

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Cordover Leads Workshop At International Collaborative Conference

Tampa attorney Adam B. Cordover lead a workshop at the 17th Annual Educational and Networking Forum of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals (“IACP”).  The Forum took place in Lake Las Vegas, Nevada, and was attended by hundreds of attorneys, mental health professionals, financial professionals, mediators, and other supportive of helping families resolve disputes respectfully and privately via the collaborative process.

Cordover lead the workshop alongside Barrie, Ontario lawyer Brian Galbraith and Seattle, Washington attorney Kevin Scudder.  The program was called “Collaborative Multiverse,” and the idea was to lead a townhall-style debate and discussion among experienced collaborative practitioners on issues affecting collaborative practice.

Brian Galbraith, Adam B. Cordover, and Kevin Scudder at the 17th Annual IACP Forum (2016)

One topic that was discussed was determining the best collaborative model to use for each particular family.  Different parts of the world predominantly use different arrangements of professionals to resolve divorce and other issues.  In Florida, the main model that is used is known as the Neutral Facilitator model, where each party has an attorney, a neutral facilitator with a mental health licensure helps with parenting issues and ensures discussions are future-focused, and a neutral financial professional aids in creating family budgets and ensures financial transparency and disclosure.

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Tampa Bay Times Column on Transgender Name Changes

Tampa Bay Times Columnist Sue Carlton writes in the September 26, 2016 edition of the newspaper about a growing trend in Florida Family Law Courts: Petitions for Change of Legal Name by transgender individuals.

In Florida, courts grant requests for changes of name relatively freely.  So long as a person has not been convicted of a felony (or, if they have been convicted of a felony, then they must have had their civil rights restored), and that the person is not seeking the name change for an illegal or ulterior purpose (such as to avoid a debt or lawsuit), the court will generally grant your request for a name change.

However, you must take the required steps for a name change, including properly filing a petition, going through a background check by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and Federal Bureau of Investigation, and appearing before a judge for questioning.

The fact that a person is changing a name from one that is associated with one gender to a name that is associated with a different gender should not make a difference.

Parts of the Tampa Bay Times article, A new frontier for Florida courts: Transgender name changes,  can be found after the jump:

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Will Florida Grant a Transgender Name Change?

The Associated Press is reporting that a transgender man’s request to change his legal name has been rejected by a Georgia Superior Court Judge.  The man, a sergeant in the U.S. Army Reserve, wants to change his legal name from Rebeccah Elizabeth Feldhaus to Rowan Elijah Feldhaus.

In rejecting the request, Judge J. David Roper wrote, “The question presented is whether a female has the statutory right to changer her name to a traditionally and obviously male name.  The Court concludes that she does not have such right.”

So would a transgender person’s petition for a change of legal name to reflect their gender identity be granted in Tampa Bay, Greater Sarasota, or elsewhere in Florida?

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Can 2 Men or 2 Women Appear on a Florida Birth Certificate?

Florida has not had the best history when it comes to the rights of same-sex couples.  For the longest time, the state had a law on the books that gay men and women were forbidden from adopting a child.  Florida not only enacted a so-called Defense of Marriage Act statute but enshrined its opposition to same-sex marriage in the state’s constitution.  Further, even once Florida courts ruled that the state must recognize marriage between people of the same sex, it was unclear whether the state would permit same-sex divorce.

Fortunately, the state has come a long way.  The “gay adoption ban” is no longer on the books.  The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that a ban on the issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples is unconstitutional, as is a refusal of one state to recognize a same-sex marriage solemnized in another state.  And it has become clear that circuit courts in Tampa Bay and around the state must give same-sex spouses the opportunity to dissolve their marriage.

So, at this point, can two parents of the same sex appear on a Florida birth certificate?

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Florida Trend Article Features Cordover and Collaborative Law

The April 2016 edition of Florida Trend Magazine featured Family Diplomacy managing attorney Adam B. Cordover in an article on Collaborative Divorce.  The article, titled “Avoiding a Fracas with Collaborative Divorce” (subscription required), described benefits and drawbacks of collaborative practice for executives and business owners.

You can find excerpts from the article below:

Last July, five years after launching his practice, divorce attorney Adam Cordover decided he was finished going to court.  “I’d spent most of my career fighting in court for clients and had seen the devastating effects.  I’d seen clients literally go crazy,” says Cordover.  “I decided I no longer wanted to be part of it.”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Florida_Trend#/media/File:Florida_Trend_June_2012_Cover.jpg

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Florida_Trend#/media/File:Florida_Trend_June_2012_Cover.jpg

He converted his firm to a litigation-free practice focused on what’s known as collaborative law.  In a collaborative divorce, a couple agrees to settle their differences outside the courtroom through negotiations.

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US Supreme Court: Second Parent Adoptions Protected by Full Faith and Credit

This week, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a state must give full faith and credit to a judgment granting a second parent adoption issued by a court of competent jurisdiction of another state.

A second parent adoption is similar to a stepparent adoption, where one spouse adopts the other spouse’s child, except that the petitioner in a second parent adoption is not married to the child’s legal parent.  Second parent adoptions were most closely associated with same-sex partners as, until recently, same-sex marriages were not permitted or recognized in Florida and around the country.

Seal of the United States Supreme Court.svgSecond parent adoption was the only method available (where it was permitted) for many LGBT individuals to gain legal recognition as a second parent to a child.

In the case, V.L. v. E.L., 577 U.S. ___ (2016), two women, E.L. and V.L.  were in a relationship from 1995 until 2011.  About seven years into the relationship, E.L. became pregnant via assisted reproductive technology and gave birth to a child (and a couple of years later, to twins).  The women raised the children as co-parents.

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