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.

Why Florida LGBTQ Families Should Be Concerned About Simmonds v. Perkins

If your child is born while you and your spouse are married, you both will always be considered the parents of the child, right?  Well, not necessarily.  LGBTQ families should be aware of their family law rights.  And according to Simmonds v. Perkins, 247 So. 3d 397 (Fla. 2018), those family law rights may be at risk.

Facts of Simmonds v. Perkins

Simmonds v. Perkins involves a Husband, a Wife, and a Biological Father.  While married to Husband, Wife has an affair with Biological Father.  Wife gets pregnant from Biological Father.  While still married to Husband, Wife gives birth to child.

Now, Biological Father did not know that Wife was married to Husband at the time of the affair, and once Biological Father did learn about the marriage, Wife told him that the marriage was only for “immigration purposes.”

After the child was born, Biological Father would visit the child regularly and paid Wife child support.  Eventually, Biological Father filed an action in court to be named the child’s legal father, have all of the rights of a father (including ability to make decisions and right to spend time with the child), and take on the obligation of child support.

Wife files a motion to dismiss the action because the child was born during an intact marriage between her and Husband.  Traditionally, that meant that there was a strong legal presumption that Husband was the legal father of the child, and it was very difficult for any third party to challenge this status.  Husband would later join as a party and also requested that his rights be respected and the case be dismissed.

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A New Legal Name for the New Year

The new year can be a time for turning over a new leaf, and it may be a time when you are considering adopting a new legal name.  Whether you are looking to share a last name with a partner, honor a loved one, adjust your name to reflect your gender identity, reconnect with recently discovered family, correct errors on your birth certificate, or just plain refresh your identity, we are a collaborative family law firm that can help you petition for a new legal name.

A New Legal Name Requires a Court Judgment

You may not realize that the process of petitioning for a new legal name is a court process.  In fact, section 68.07 of the Florida Statutes lays out the legal requirement to change your name and what must be filed with the court.  Under the name change law, you must swear under oath whether, among other things, the following apply to you:

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Transgender Family Law Tampa Bay

The question of which attorney to choose is a very personal one.  You want someone who will offer a warm, welcoming environment and who understands the unique legal and societal challenges that transgender family law matters often entail.  You want someone who has been on the forefront of LGBTQ family law rights and will be there for you.  We would be honored to represent you.

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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.

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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