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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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Video: Adult Adoption

Below is a brief video from the Audiopedia that gives a general description of Adult Adoption.

 

You can find a transcript below:

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Nonprofit in Florida Offers Grants for Adoption Costs

The Tampa Bay Times recently ran a story about the Gift of Adoption Fund.  Gift of Adoption Fund is a 501(c)(3) organization with a chapter in Florida that helps prospective adoptive parents in need defray some of the costs of adoption.

Adoption Grants | Gift of Adoption Fund

You can find portions of the Tampa Bay Times story below.

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Adoption Client Review: Very Professional and Precise

An adoption client recently reviewed Family Diplomacy: A Collaborative Law Firm on Avvo.com.

FLORIDA BAR DISCLAIMER: Please note that every case is different, and you may not receive the same or similar results.  You can find the review after the jump.

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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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Adoption Client Review: Outstanding Lawyer

An adoption client recently left a review of Family Diplomacy: A Collaborative Law Firm on Avvo.com.

As required by the Florida Bar, we note that each case is different, and you may not receive the same or similar results.

The review is reproduced below:

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Client Review: Stepparent Adoption & Name Change

Whether we are handling a divorce, paternity, name change, or adoption matter, we treat our clients with care and respect to help them meet their goals.

I was recently reviewed on Avvo.com by a client in a stepparent adoption matter who discussed her experience.

 

As I am required to note by the Florida Bar, please understand that every case is different, and you may not receive the same or similar results.  You can find the review after the jump:

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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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Pasco Adoption Judge Retires

Sixth Circuit Unified Family Court Judge William R. Webb enjoyed his last day on the bench granting adoptions.  From the Tampa Tribune:

NEW PORT RICHEY – He just as easily could have spent the day romping with his 2½-year-old grandson or reading the novel he never had time to open while serving as a circuit court judge for the Sixth Judicial Circuit.

Instead, Judge William Webb, 67, spent New Year’s Eve, the first day of his retirement, at the Pasco County Courthouse — officiating at the adoption of a group of children he had shepherded through the court system.

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Anti-Gay Language Stripped From Florida Adoption Laws

Up until recently, chapter 63 of the Florida Statutes, which contains the state’s adoption laws, was explicitly anti-gay.  Chapter 63 and adoption case law stated that whether prospective parents could adopt a child should be based on the best interests of the child, with one exception.

LGBT flag

That exception was laid out in Florida Statutes section 63.042(3) (2014), which provided that “No person eligible to adopt under this statute may adopt if that person is a homosexual.”

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