Rights Recognized in Tampa’s Domestic Partnership Registry

As President Obama today expressed his support for gay marriage, the State of Florida continues to define marriage as “a legal union between one man and one woman,” leaving homosexuals in loving relationships in a state of legal limbo.  Attempting to fill in the gap, many local county and municipal governments are passing “domestic partnership registries” which codify certain rights to heterosexual and homosexual partners.  Tampa, for one, has passed an ordinance creating a domestic partnership registry.

Related:  Five Legal Steps Florida LGBT Parents Should Take

[Related:  In A Florida Child Custody Case, Does It Matter That I Am Gay?]

[Related:  In Which County Should I File My Florida Adoption Case?]

Tampa’s domestic partnership law recognizes the following rights for registered partners (to the extent that these rights are not superseded by other laws or ordinances or by contract):

  • Healthcare visitation for partners and dependents of partners;
  • Healthcare decision-making for incapacitated partners;
  • Funeral and burial decisions for partners;
  • Notification of partners as family members in cases of emergency;
  • Pre-need guardian designation will not be denied based solely on being homosexual; and
  • Participation in education decisions for the partner’s dependent children.

Even though Pinellas County and other cities and counties are considering similar domestic partnership registries, the fact is that this is still a patchwork of ordinances.  Technically, those partners who register in Tampa will only have the protections provided by the ordinance within the city boundaries.

But, there are still steps that partners can take to protect themselves and their family and honor one another.

First, partners should make sure that they draft and execute proper estate planning documents, such as wills, healthcare surrogates, living wills, etc.

Second, partners should consider adopting each other’s children in a “second parent adoption.”  As strange as this may sound, a woman who donates her fertilized egg to her partner may have limited or no rights to time-sharing or making decisions regarding the child outside Tampa unless she adopts the child.  However, you should beware that certain counties in Florida are more open to second parent adoptions than others.

Third, partners may want to consider a partnership agreement defining each partner’s rights and responsibilities towards one another.  Though some may compare a partnership agreement to a prenuptial agreement, the fact is that a good partnership agreement should be much more comprehensive than a prenup.  This is because there are laws on the books in Florida governing each spouse’s rights and responsibilities in a marital relationship, but there really are no similar laws governing each partner’s rights and responsibilities in a same sex partnership.

Fourth, a partner may want to legally change his or her last name to the name of his or her partner.  Though names can change automatically as part of a marriage ceremony, those in a same sex relationship must go through court proceedings to change a name.

If you have questions regarding your family rights and you want to meet with a Tampa Bay family law attorney, contact The Law Firm of Adam B. Cordover, P.A., at (813) 443-0615 or by filling out our consultation form.

About Adam B. Cordover, Attorney-at-Law

Family Diplomacy is dedicated to helping clients restructure their families privately and respectfully. We practice exclusively in out-of-court dispute resolution, with a focus on collaborative divorce and family law, mediation, direct negotiations, and unbundled legal services. We maintain this out-of-court practice because we strongly believe that family disputes should be resolved in a private conference room, not in a hostile and public courtroom environment. This unique perspective on family law stems back to Adam B. Cordover’s experience studying International Affairs in Washington, D.C., and abroad. Adam had the rare opportunity to work closely with ambassadors and diplomats from war-torn regions around the world. He traveled around the globe, learning from diplomatic leaders as they applied dispute resolution techniques to tackle seemingly impossible conflicts. It dawned on him: If these techniques can work in the complex world of International Relations, why not Domestic Relations and Family Law? This realization lead Adam to create an exclusively out-of-court practice and to bring a more peacemaking approach to family law. In his previous role as a litigation attorney, Adam witnessed parties experience the negative emotional and financial effects that long, drawn out divorce battles can have on families. As a result, Adam has become a strong proponent of the Collaborative Process, where a structure is put in place so that life’s hardest moments do not have to be any more difficult than necessary. A thought leader in the international collaborative law community, Adam successfully spearheaded an effort of the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit to draft an administrative order safeguarding the principles of collaborative family law (just the fourth such administrative order in Florida). Adam has been featured in or interviewed about collaborative practice by the Tampa Bay Times, Tampa Tribune, Orlando Sentinel, Miami Herald, Tampa Bay Business Journal, Florida Bar News, NBC, Fox 13, Bay News 9, ABC Action News, The World of Collaborative Practice Magazine, and Spirit FM 90.5. Adam regularly speaks at professional and civic organizations locally and internationally regarding the collaborative process. Adam B. Cordover is president of Next Generation Divorce, a 501(c)(3) and Florida’s largest interdisciplinary collaborative practice group with member attorneys, mental health professionals, and financial professionals throughout Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, Sarasota, and Manatee Counties. Adam is also on the Executive Board and co-chair of the Research Committee of the Collaborative Family Law Council of Florida. Further, Adam is a graduate of the inaugural class of the Leadership Academy of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals. You can learn more about us and our services at www.FamilyDiplomacy.com. Attorney Adam B. Cordover is admitted to the Florida Bar and the United States District Court, Middle District of Florida. His office is located at 412 East Madison Street, Suite 824, Tampa, Florida 33602.
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4 Responses to Rights Recognized in Tampa’s Domestic Partnership Registry

  1. Pingback: Does Florida Recognize Common Law Marriage? | ABC Family Law Blog

  2. Pingback: Tampa’s Domestic Partnership Registry Goes Into Effect | ABC Family Law Blog

  3. Pingback: St. Petersburg and Clearwater Join Tampa and Gulfport in Creation of Domestic Partnership Registry | ABC Family Law Blog

  4. Pingback: Tampa May Expand Domestic Partnership Recognition | ABC Family Law Blog

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