HB 409 Approves Online Notarization

Florida Greenlights Online Notarization

We lawyers love paper.  Look at any lawyer’s desk and you will likely see reams and reams of paper, many of which require notarization.

But, more and more, this is becoming a paperless world.  In fact, courts and clerks of court have recognized this reality with the advent of Florida’s e-filing portal.  In this way, paper documents that used to be required to be couriered or mailed to a court can now be submitted electronically.

Yet, notarization still tends to be done with paper copies, with a party having to appear in person in front of a notary public.

This will all change with the enactment of Florida HB 409 which provides for Registration and Authority for Online Notarization.  Below is a summary analysis of the bill from the House of Representatives:

Summary Analysis

CS/CS/HB 409 passed the House on April 24, 2019, and subsequently passed the Senate on May 2, 2019.

Certain documents require a notary public’s presence and signature. Current law prohibits a notary from notarizing a signature if the party executing the document is not in the notary’s physical presence at the time of signature.

A will is a legal document used to designate the distribution of a person’s assets upon death. To be valid, a will must follow certain formalities with respect to its creation, execution, preservation, revocation, and filing. A will must be signed:

 By the testator, who is the person making the will; and
 In the presence of two witnesses, one of which must testify to the authenticity of the will, unless the will is self-proved.

The bill authorizes remote notarization and the use of an electronic will. Specifically, the bill provides:

 Definitions for online notarization and the required technology;
 Procedures, standards, and requirements for online notarization;
 Registration requirements for online notaries;
 A certificate to be used by online notaries;
 Standards for supervising the witnessing of electronic records; and

The bill also authorizes the use of an electronic will. An electronic will is executed, modified, and revoked in a similar manner as a paper will under current law. The bill provides a means for self-proving, storing, and filing an electronic will. The bill creates a “qualified custodian” who is responsible for possessing and controlling the electronic will.

The bill may have an indeterminate, though likely insignificant fiscal impact on state government expenditures.

The bill was approved by the Governor on June 7, 2019, ch. 2019-71, L.O.F., and will become effective on
January 1, 2020, except as otherwise provided.

So, beginning on January 1, 2020, notaries may begin offering online notarization with a party needing to be physically present in front of him or her.  In fact, the party does not even need to be located in the State of Florida so long as the notary is located in the state.

Keep in mind that the notary will need to utilize specialized platforms, and the party will need to have access to audio and visual equipment.  Additionally, the law requires the notary to hold a minimum bond.  Accordingly, not every notary will offer online notarization, but access to online notaries should be relatively easy.

Effect on Divorce and Family Law

In the divorce and family law arena, there are many documents that get notarized, which may include the following (depending on your matter):

  • Petition;
  • Answer;
  • Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) Affidavit;
  • Financial Affidavit;
  • Certificate of Compliance with Mandatory Disclosure;
  • Notice of Social Security Number;
  • Waiver;
  • Parenting Plan; and
  • Marital Settlement Agreement.

When you are in the middle of something as emotionally draining as a divorce, adoption, or paternity matter, you may not have the energy to come to an attorney’s office or go to a bank or other provider and get these items notarized in person.

Accordingly, beginning January 1, 2020, your life will be made a little easier with the option of online notarization.


Adam B. Cordover is a collaborative attorney, mediator, and trainer.  Adam is also co-author of Building A Successful Collaborative Family Law Practice (ABA 2018).

Manafort’s Daughter Changed Her Name, And So Can You!

Do you have a father who has done things that you are not exactly proud of?  Do you have a parent who has gained notoriety in your community?  Are the actions or reputation of a relative beginning to negatively impact you?

Well, according to a report in the Tampa Bay Times, Paul Manafort’s daughter decided to do something about it.  Paul Manafort is the former campaign manager to President Trump who was convicted for tax and bank fraud and pleaded guilty to illegal lobbying on behalf of Ukrainian interest.  Because of this and the spectacle it has caused, his daughter decided to legally change her last name.

And, you know what?  In most cases, you, too, can change your legal name.

Required Petition for A Legal Name Change

Section 68.07 of the Florida Statutes lays out the requirements of a name change.

You must file a petition with the court that is signed under oath and includes, among other things, the following information:

  • That you live in the county where you are petitioning for a name change;
  • Whether you have ever gone through bankruptcy;
  • Whether you have ever been arrested for or charged with a crime;
  • Whether you have ever been required to register as a sexual predator or a sexual offender;
  • Whether you have ever been successfully sued;
  • That you are not seeking a name change for any illegal or ulterior purpose; and
  • That your civil rights have never been suspended or, if they have, that your rights have been fully restored.

By the way, just because you have gone through bankruptcy, lost a lawsuit, or have been arrested does not necessarily prevent you from obtaining a name change.

Background Check for A Legal Name Change

You will also need to have your fingerprints electronically scanned for a background check.  The check is conducted by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and FBI to confirm that the information in your petition is correct.

Name Change Lawyer

Once you have filed your petition and completed the background check, in most counties you will need to go in front of a judge to complete the process.  The judge swears you in, and you provide testimony and any evidence that is requested to prove up your petition.

Because the paperwork involved in the name change process can be onerous, and because most people do not have a lot of experience dealing with the court system, you should consider having a name change lawyer by your side throughout the process.

You may relate to Manafort’s daughter’s desire “to separate myself and my work from public perception that has nothing to do with the person that I am.”

We can help you do that.

Podcast: In-Depth Interview on Collaborative Divorce

Recently, author and collaborative attorney Adam B. Cordover appeared on the “Talking Brains” podcast for an in-depth interview on on collaborative divorce.

The podcast is hosted by Dr. Stephanie Sarkis, a therapist in Tampa specializing in ADHD, anxiety, and gaslighting.

In this wide-ranging interview, Stephanie and Adam discuss, among other things, the following:

  • The differences between the traditional court-based divorce and collaborative divorce;
  • The benefits of collaborative divorce for spouses;
  • The benefits of collaborative divorce for children;
  • The benefits of collaborative divorce for professionals;
  • The success rate of collaborative divorce;
  • What happens when spouses cannot reach an agreement;
  • Mosten, Forrest, & Cordover, Adam, Building A Successful Collaborative Family Law Practice (ABA 2018);
  • The International Academy of Collaborative Professionals;
  • The Florida Academy of Collaborative Professionals;
  • Next Generation Divorce; and
  • Tampa Bay Collaborative Trainers.

You can listen to the podcast below:

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Is There A Better Way To Divorce?

Divorce is never easy.  I oftentimes hear people going through the stages of grief when discussing divorce, as if a loved one has died.  And, in a very real sense, divorce does signify the death of a relationship.

But imagine if, when a loved one died, you then picked a battle and entered a very public adversarial court system.  Your every move is scrutinized by a lawyer looking to portray you in the very worst light.  You are subjected to depositions and court hearings and a wide-net fishing expedition through all of your personal and financial matters.  And, all of this could be exposed to public scrutiny, as hearings and the court file are open for public viewing.

All of this, while you are experiencing the grief and trauma of death.  In this case, the death of a relationship.

There has got to be a better way to divorce, right?  To avoid the public indignity of an entrenched fight, right?

Fortunately, there are alternatives.  One alternative, which in this lawyer’s opinion is best for most families, is collaborative divorce.

Non-Adversarial Process

Collaborative divorce is a non-adversarial process.  Each spouse retains a separate attorney, and the two attorneys are there solely for the purpose of reaching an out-of-court agreement.  In fact, the collaborative attorneys are prohibited by law, once a collaborative process is started, from fighting in court.

Imagine that, attorneys helping clients reach a peaceful resolution.  The attorneys spend no time, no energy, and no money on opposition research, motion practice, or demonizing either spouse.

Wouldn’t that be wonderful?

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Video: Bounds of Advocacy and Collaborative Divorce

Earlier this year, the Florida Bar Family Law Section released a new version of the Bounds of Advocacy.  The Bounds of Advocacy promote a higher level of professionalism than the base level required by the Florida Bar.

In the video below, Joshua Jones, a Pensacola family law attorney and president of West Florida Collaborative Law, Inc., discusses the relationship between the Bounds of Advocacy and collaborative divorce.  The video is produced by the Florida Academy of Collaborative Professionals.  Further, professionals interested in learning to offer collaborative services to client in Pensacola November 30-December 1 can learn more and register here.

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Jewish Press Spotlights Cordover

The Jewish Press of Tampa, in its September 21, 2018 edition, spotlighted Family Diplomacy: A Collaborative Law Firm and its managing attorney, Adam B. Cordover.  Below you will find the spotlight:

Name of Business: Family Diplomacy: A Collaborative Law Firm

Location: 412 E. Madison St., Suite 824, Tampa

Ownership: Adam B. Cordover, graduate of Jewish Leadership Training Institute 2010

Q What services do you offer?

A Collaborative Divorce and Family Law, Mediation, Unbundled Legal Services, Adoptions, Name Changes

Q What inspires your work and sets you apart from everyone else?

A My firm focuses on helping people through difficult times in the least painful way possible. That is why we specialize in collaborative family law, where the children are the top priority and where respect and privacy are fostered.

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Divorce: Who Gets The House?

If you are like most other individuals in Florida, your home is your most valuable marital asset. So if you are contemplating a divorce, one of your first questions will likely be, who gets the house, if anyone?

You may be concerned that your name is not listed on the deed of your marital home. However, in Florida, if you purchased the home during your marriage using marital funds, your home is presumed to be marital property, regardless of in whose name it is titled. This means that each spouse is entitled to half of the equity in the home (and responsible for half the loss if it has lost valued).

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Cordover Receives Avvo Client Choice Award

Collaborative family law attorney and Florida Supreme Court Certified Family Law Mediator Adam B. Cordover received the 2018 Avvo Client Choice Award.  The Award is provided to attorneys who receive five or more 4+ Stars in a calendar year (all Adam’s reviews have been five out of five stars).

Cordover receives 2018 Avvo Client Choice Award

Below are the reviews in 2018 that lead to the award:

Mr.

Adam was and still has been a tremendous resource to me with my tumultuous divorce process. He was honest and fair – he put me in my place when I got too riled up during the process and provided me a real picture of what needed to be done – and what the potential outcomes could be.

Adam was not an attorney that billed crazy hours and prolonged the case – he was steadfast and eager to help me – he did not ever drag things out like a lot of attorneys do just for some extra billing.

My case ended – and even after we had completed our business relationship, Adam continues to demonstrate his compassion towards me and my challenges with living as a divorced single father – not for the money – he seems to do it because he has taken ownership of my post-divorce challenges at times.

I highly recommend anyone going through a divorce to speak to Adam first about a collaborative approach to marriage termination – as well as all family legal matters.

While no one wants to face the challenges or realities that come with divorce, Adam will show you the truth before anyone else knows it – and help you plan for your future.

Posted by Kenneth on Avvo.

Five out of five stars.

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Video: CPA Discusses Collaborative Divorce

Those who have been through the old-style divorce court may have trouble associating divorce with empathy.  This is especially true when it comes to financial issues.  And yet, collaborative divorce professionals see families act with kindness and empathy all of the time.

In the video below, Certified Public Accountant and collaborative financial professional Ari Harper discusses a recent case where empathy made all of the difference:

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Alimony Tax Deduction: Is It Too Late To Divorce in 2018?

Have you heard the news about the alimony tax deduction?  It is going away for divorces finalized after December 31, 2018.  But fear not!  If you and your spouse act smartly and quickly, you can still lock in your alimony tax deduction.

What is the Alimony Tax Deduction?

The alimony tax deduction is currently enshrined in 26 U.S. Code section 215.  It states that alimony (as opposed to child support or distribution of property) can be tax deductible to the payor and taxable to the payee.  This means that the person who pays alimony will pay less in taxes, and the person who receives alimony will pay taxes on it as if it were regular income.

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