Not all families fit the traditional mold of married opposite sex couples. Different laws apply to unmarried opposite sex couples and married or unmarried same sex couples.
Fathers who are not married to the mother at the time of their child’s birth have no rights to timesharing with the child until a court enters a Parenting Plan. Mothers who are not married to the father at the time of the child’s birth are the sole legal guardians of the child and legally do not have to consult the father in any decisions concerning the child including relocating. Note, however, that a mother’s failure to involve the father may have negative legal implications if the father seeks timesharing.
The State of Florida currently recognizes the marriages of same sex couples. Although this may change with the U.S. Supreme Court that is expected in June of 2015. For now, same sex couples who were married in Florida or another state are entitled to the benefits accorded opposite sex married couples, including granting divorces. Matters regarding the legal parentage of children born of same sex spouses or dissolution of civil unions or domestic partnerships entered into in other states is still uncertain. If you have questions about same sex divorce, issues of parental rights or dissolution of your civil union or domestic partnership, please call me at (813) 293-2128.
I am a member of the LGBT Family Law Institute (FLI). The FLI is joint project of the National LGBT Bar Association and the Nation Center of Lesbian Rights. FLI is an informal coalition of attorneys from the United States and several foreign countries who are experienced in LGBT Law and who meet annually on a national and regional basis to discuss the latest legal issues facing lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender clients and the best ways to form and protect their families. FLI members also participate in an online listserve where they discuss legal issues and address question raised by other FLI members. My participation in the FLI provides me with information and contacts that allow me to represent clients in an area of law that is rapidly changing. My practice of Alternative Family Law and LGBT Law includes the following areas:
- Second or Stepparent Adoption
- Estate Planning (click here to see this area of our Web site for more information)
- Divorce / Dissolution of Marriage / Termination of Relationships
- Parenting Plans and Timesharing
- Partnership and “Living Together” Agreements
- Sperm Donor Agreements
- Change of Name and Domestication of Foreign Change of Name Orders
Second Parent Adoption: Since September 2010, gays and lesbians may adopt in Florida. However, Florida adoption law does not specifically address the process for establishing same sex couples as equal parents. Second Parent Adoption is the process of establishing parental rights for a non-bioligical or non-legal parent. Because this procedure is unusual and not specifically addressed in adoption law, it is important that you retain an attorney experienced in this procedure to represent you in the Second Parent Adoption.
Name Change: Individuals have the right to change their name to any name of their choice, as long as they are not doing so for a fraudulent purpose. While I do not recommend that anyone go before the court without legal representation, I recognize that the process for changing your legal name is fairly straightforward and that many individuals choose to represent themselves through this legal process. However, due to the personal bias of some judges, some of my transgender clients have experienced difficulties during the change of name process. If you have experienced difficulties, are concerned about the prospect of such difficulties or just want the peace of mind afforded by legal representation through this process, please contact me.
Domestication of Foreign Change of Name Orders: If you were born in Florida, but changed your legal name in another state, the Florida Department of Health may require you to have the court order from the foreign state “domesticated” by a Florida court before you can amend your Florida birth certificate to reflect your new name. This is not a routine procedure, but I can assist you just as I have assisted other clients in several counties in the Tampa Bay area.
Transgender Issues: Transgender individuals sometimes experience difficulties and complications related to changing their identities during their transition. If you are experiencing issues dealing with state or local government agencies during your transition process, please contact me. I have provided transgender clients with assistance in resolving these issues. If you qualify, I may be able to provide these services with any charge to you on a pro bono basis.
Same Sex Divorce: Although this may change with the U.S. Supreme Court decision expected in June of 2015, Florida courts will recognize marriages of same sex couples for purposes of divorce / dissolution of marriage. Whether a Florida court will dissolve a civil union or domestic partnership entered into in another state is unclear.