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Broward County Family Law Blog

Adoption options for gay couples in Florida may be improving

The recent legal changes allowing gay marriage in Florida may also have an impact on adoption rights and the adoption process for gay couples and families in the state. Historically, it has been difficult for same-sex couples to adopt and enjoy the same legal protections and rights in the state of Florida concerning their children as heterosexual couples.

In 2010, a ban preventing gay individuals from adopting children was struck down, however, challenges for same-sex couples to adopt together remained in place. Limited, and cumbersome, methods existed through which same-sex parents could ensure the same parental rights as heterosexual couples. Because of the limited parental rights of one of the parents in a same-sex household, family members of the biological parent, or parent who legally adopted the child, could enjoy greater rights concerning the child than the other parent in some circumstances.

Ruling makes same-sex marriage, and divorce, legal in Florida

As is true for any straight couple seeking a divorce, same-sex couples face issues and concerns about the process. A federal judge recently overturned Florida's ban on same-sex marriage which prompted Florida same-sex couples to line up to get married. Other gay and lesbian couples responded to the court's ruling by seeking a same-sex divorce. The ruling brought a possible end to the legal limbo some married gay and lesbian couples in Florida have faced.

Many of the couples were married in other states where same-sex marriage is legal. Because Florida did not recognize their unions as legal, however, the couples could not divorce in Florida but because of extended residency requirements in other states necessary to obtain a divorce, they were unable to divorce in those states. The legal limbo some married same-sex couples seeking a divorce in Florida found themselves in left them without legal resolution concerning property division, child custody or other common divorce-related legal issues. A variety of additional personal and professional considerations can also be implicated for individuals unable to divorce.

Understanding adoption in Florida Part 2: the adoption process

The adoption process may seem overwhelming and complex at times to families entering it but because of how important the process is, it is valuable to have a clear understanding of the adoption process. Last week's blog discussed what adoption is and this week will discuss the adoption process so that families considering adoption can better understand it and the resources available to help with the process.

The adoption process creates a legal parent-child relationship that is the same as the relationship that exists between biological parents and children. Because of this, it is important to follow the proper procedures to ensure that the rights of the biological parent are properly terminated. Consent for adoption is required from the biological and legal parents of the child and it is important to understand that some special circumstances may exist for fathers in some circumstances. In addition, if the child is over the age of 12, the child's consent will be considered but the court will disregard the child's consent if it conflicts with the child's best interests. In circumstances of adult adoptions, the consent rules do not apply.

Understanding adoption in Florida Part 1: What is adoption?

Family planning can be a significant consideration in the lives of many people. Because of the important role family planning plays, understanding the adoption process may be helpful. The details of the adoption process, and implications of adoption, may be something that many families wonder about.

By definition, adoption is the legal process that allows a child to legally become part of a family other than the family of the child's biological parents. Any individual under the age of 18 may be legally adopted and adults may also be adopted. Any adult who works in the state of Florida and is considered capable to be a parent according to certain standards may adopt. Both single individuals and married couples may adopt.

Understanding the role mediation may play in your Florida divorce

Mediation may play an important role in your divorce process. In Florida, divorce cases are all required to proceed through the court-ordered mediation process. This process typically results in many divorce-related issues being settled and agreements being reached in an efficient and economical manner that is also less contentious.

For most couples, settling disputes and agreeing on divorce-related issues prior to trial is a preferred path and leads to more preferred outcomes during what can be a difficult and emotional time. This sometimes challenging time can be made more costly and time-consuming due to a variety of unresolved disputes. Amicable agreements may be reached between the couple through the mediation process concerning the majority of, if not all, divorce-related issues in advance of trial.

Protecting privacy in divorce may be a concern for many families

Last week, this blog discussed a messy child custody battle between a famous rocker and his estranged wife. Although the lives of celebrities may often seem out-of-touch or not relevant to the lives of others, the reality is that when it comes to family law, celebrities often struggle with the same sensitive issues everyone does. One significant concern during the divorce process for many families can be privacy and the need to protect children and other important concerns.

Couples that are able to reach agreements in place of heated, and sometimes ugly, disputes that require court intervention or trial, may also be able to preserve a measure of privacy concerning financial and other matters that may not otherwise remain private following the court process. Reaching agreements may also allow parties to avoid costly delays.

Florida judge grants full custody of children to rocker's wife

To help mitigate some of the understandable emotions associated with the child custody process, it is useful to understand how child custody decisions are made. A Florida judge recently granted full custody of the couple's three children to the estranged wife of rocker Scott Stapp from the band Creed. The mother of the three children, ages 16, 7 and 4, was granted sole physical and legal custody of the children; visitation rights were not mentioned. The family home was also declared the sole residence of the mother and three children by the Florida judge. Stapp has been accused of strange and erratic behavior as well as drug addiction. Stapp was recently committed and his oldest child recently took to social media to urge his father to get help.

Child custody situations can be difficult and complex. To help focus the sometimes emotional process, courts seek to determine what is in the best interests of the children when arriving at child custody determinations. To make this important determination, the court may consider a variety of factors. The court will look at the physical, mental and emotional health of the parents and their ability to parent. Keeping in mind the health, safety and well being of the children, the court will consider a number of other important factors.

What is divorce mediation and is it right for me?

Divorce typically involves a predictable set of issues but if you are unfamiliar with the process, it can be overwhelming during an already emotional and difficult time. You may have heard others use the term mediation in the context of divorce and wondered about the process of divorce mediation. During the divorce process, divorcing spouses are permitted to resolve many important considerations as a couple. Sometimes during the process, however, disputes arise.

As many people know, divorce disputes can be emotionally and financially draining and consume an extensive amount of time as well. If you are in the entering the divorce process, you may wonder if divorce mediation is a good idea for you. The answer may depend on a variety of factors. In general, the mediation process can help ensure the couple remains focused on resolving outstanding divorce-related issues.

Prenuptial agreements have important uses

Prenuptial agreements can be a handy tool for couples entering a marriage to determine how to divide property in the event the couple ever divorces. Though it is not always the way prenuptial agreements are viewed, it is important to keep in mind that all couples, either through a prenuptial agreement or allowing the legal system to determine for them, make some kind of decision concerning how property will be divided in the event of divorce.

In the absence of a prenuptial agreement, state law will determine how property is divided in the event of a divorce. In Florida, equitable division rules are followed when property is divided at the end of a marriage absent a valid prenuptial agreement. Though it may not be as romantic as some of the other marriage planning a couple does, a prenuptial agreement can have a variety of important uses.

Understanding restraining orders in Florida

Prominent in the media recently has been the serious issue of domestic violence. As part of the national discussion centered around family violence, it is important that if you are a victim of domestic violence, you understand options and resources through the family law legal process that may be available to help.

Domestic violence has health, safety and family law implications. Family violence and accusations of family violence can impact multiple members of a family. Individuals who are victims of domestic violence may need to seek a restraining order to protect them from harm and threats of harm they have received. Alternately, individuals accused of domestic violence may need to understand resources available to allow them to see family and loved ones they are prevented from seeing because of a restraining order again.