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New Chief Judge for Second District Court of Appeals

The Honorable Edward C. LaRose has been elected Chief Judge of Florida’s Second District Court of Appeals.  The Second District hears appeals from most of the Tampa Bay area, including Hillsborough, Pinellas, and Pasco Counties.

Judge LaRose has been a supporter of collaborative practice as a private, more humane way to go through divorce and other family law matters.  He has attended Family Law Inns of Court meetings as well as meetings of the Collaborative Law Section of the Hillsborough County Bar Association and has always been happy to discuss collaborative law.

In discussions with Judge LaRose, I have learned that he believes most families should try to resolve issues related to divorce outside of court, and that they should only resort to a judge imposed decision as a last resort.

Below is an announcement from the Second District Court of Appeals:

Edward C. LaRose Named Chief Judge

LAKELAND, Fla.—Judge Edward C. LaRose has been unanimously elected chief judge of Florida’s Second District Court of Appeal by his colleagues. He will serve a two-year term that begins July 1, 2017, succeeding the current chief judge, Craig C. Villanti. The court is headquartered in Lakeland and has a branch in Tampa.

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Florida Bar Family Law Section Moves To File Brief In Same Sex Divorce Appeal

The Family Law Section of the Florida Bar, representing over 4,000 attorneys and affiliate members, has decided to file a brief in a divorce appeal in favor of the right of same sex spouses in Florida to divorce.  The Family Law Section is joined by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (“AAML”) in what is believed to be the first same sex divorce case in Florida to challenge the state’s Defense of Marriage Act and constitutional amendment banning “gay marriage.”

As an attorney for one of the spouses – who were married in Massachusetts, moved to Florida, and filed for divorce in Hillsborough County – I welcome the support of the Family Law Section and AAML.

In their motion requesting permission to file an amicus brief, the Family Law Section and the AAML write the following:

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Texas Judge Rules Denial of Same Sex Divorce Unconstitutional

In a case with many similarities to the Florida same sex divorce matter being deliberated here in Tampa, a district judge in Texas has ruled that, despite that state’s same sex marriage ban, two women should be permitted to divorce.  In fact, according to the Daily Kos, the Texas judge ruled that their Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional, and so this divorce case should proceed like any other divorce:

Judge Barbara Nellermoe, in a five-page ruling released Tuesday, pinpointed three portions of the Texas Family Code as unconstitutional, as well as Section 32 of the Texas Constitution. Nellermoe wrote that “in a well-reasoned opinion by Judge Orlando Garcia, the federal district court found that a state cannot do what the federal government cannot – that is, it cannot discriminate against same-sex couples.”

The trial judge found that the state had no rational basis to deny recognition of same sex married couples.  Judge Nellermoe also found that “Texas’ denial of recognition of the parties’ out-of-state same-sex marriage violates equal protection and due process rights when Texas does afford full faith and credit to opposite-sex marriages celebrated in other states.”

According to the Austin Statesman, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbot subsequently responded by asking the 4th Court of Appeals to stay, or pause, Judge Nellermoe’s proceedings, and the appellate court granted that request.  This does not mean that the appellate court will reverse Judge Nellermoe’s ruling; it just means that it will hear arguments, set for May 5, and make a determination later.

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Section 61.537, Florida Statutes

Appeals.—

An appeal may be taken from a final order in a proceeding under ss. 61.524-61.540 in accordance with expedited appellate procedures in other civil cases. Unless the court enters a temporary emergency order under s. 61.517, the enforcing court may not stay an order enforcing a child custody determination pending appeal.

History.—s. 5, ch. 2002-65.