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.
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:
- Identify specific legal and other considerations for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) individuals and families;
- Engage in discussion of various out-of-court options to meet LGBTQ needs; and
- Consider new and future legal challenges for LGBTQ clients and the family law community.
The Tampa Tribune recently reported that the Union for Reform Judaism (“URJ”) passed a resolution in support of transgender rights. The resolution of the URJ, representing approximately 1.5 million American Jews, is the most wide-reaching indication of support for transgender equality.
The resolution did not mandate changes to Reform synagogues or require them to spend money on changes, though it did set suggested protocols on welcoming transgender and non-gender-conforming individuals.
As LGBT rights have gained acceptance in Florida and throughout the U.S., it has become more common to learn about a spouse in an opposite-sex marriage – sometimes a long-term marriage – come out as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. There is a term for marriage where one spouse is straight and the other spouse is lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender: Mixed Orientation Marriages. The term can also be applied to same-sex marriages where one of the spouses is bisexual or gender fluid.
Transcending Boundaries, which is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that provides education, activism, and support for persons whose sexuality, gender, sex, or relationship styles do not fit within conventional categories, has published a brochure that discusses and provides resources for those spouses in Mixed Orientation Marriages.
The brochures says the following about Mixed Orientation Marriages:
Caitlyn Jenner’s transition and reality TV show has raised awareness about transgender issues. However, for many Floridians, there are still a lot of questions. Some basic questions are: What do you call a transgender person? Which pronouns do you use?
PrideHealth, which is an organization out of Canada that “provides safe and accessible primary health care services for people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (GLBTIQ),” has produced a video to help answer these questions.
Though the video is directed to healthcare providers, it is helpful for legal services providers and anyone who does not want to alienate potential trans clientele.
The unfortunate truth is that current Florida law is not conducive to recognizing the relationships that develop in lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender families. However, there are steps that Florida and Tampa Bay LGBT parents can take to boost the recognition of their parental rights.
If LGBT parents are committed to raising a child together and recognizing each parent’s rights, I highly recommend that partners consider adopting each other’s children. This helps form an unbreakable legal bond between the children and each partner. Though the law is not completely settled in this area, the judges in Hillsborough County (including Tampa) are granting adoptions by LGBT partners. What’s more, an adoption attorney located in Hillsborough County (such as myself) can help Florida parents come before Hillsborough County judges no matter where in Florida the parents live.
Co-parenting agreements can be great evidence that LGBT partners intend to parent children together. It can boost the argument that “psychological parenting,” or the formation of a parent-like relationship between a child and a non-legal parent, has occurred and make it or more likely that parental rights will be recognized by Florida’s legal system.
Hyphenated or Unified Last Names
A hyphenated or unified last name can go a long way in demonstrating to the Florida legal system that partners intended to raise children together. For example, if partner 1 is named Jones, and partner 2 is named Smith, it would be helpful to have all partners and children’s last names hyphenated or unified, so that everyone has a last name of Jones-Smith, Smith-Jones, Smones, Jith, etc. Florida has laws to aid in legal name changes.
The U.S. Supreme Court is hearing arguments on the rights of lesbian and gay individuals to marry partners of the same sex, and Florida’s laws may be affected. Currently, same sex partners are not only prohibited from entering into marriage in Florida, but Florida law also prohibits the recognition of same sex marriages that were validly sanctioned in any other state or nation.
Florida has a version of the Defense of Marriage Act (section 741.212, Florida Statutes), which reads as follows:
The City of Tampa is considering an ordinance that would recognize domestic partnerships from communities around the United States. Currently, Tampa only recognizes the rights of those domestic partners who have registered with Tampa’s domestic partnership registry. According to the Tampa Bay Times:
City Council instructed its attorneys to draft an ordinance that would allow Tampa to offer equal protection to couples recognized in domestic partner registries outside the city. Council members had considered creating agreements with surrounding municipal governments to recognize each others’ registries. But seeing as that process that council member Yvonne Yolie Capin said could be “arduous,” the council opted to draft a law allowing Tampa to recognize other registries — regardless of whether those cities reciprocate.
A draft of an ordinance is scheduled to be reviewed by council members on Sept. 27.
Tampa’s domestic partnership registry is open to couples who are 18 or older, unmarried and not related by blood, who live together and consider each other to be immediate family. Registered domestic partners each have rights historically recognized for immediate relatives: Being notified that a partner has been in an accident, visiting each other in the hospital, making medical decisions for a partner who cannot do so, and making funeral arrangements for each other.
If you would like to learn more about your Florida family law rights, including adoption, child custody, or domestic partnership agreements, schedule a consultation The Law Firm of Adam B. Cordover, P.A., at (813) 443-0615 or fill out our online form.
Florida law provides a choice as to where prospective parents should file a case for termination of parental rights and adoption. Generally, the adoption must be filed where (i) the child lives or (ii) the adoption entity, intermediary, or attorney for the prospective parents is located.
Which of these counties is chosen may be a strategic decision…