The Family Law Section of the Florida Bar, representing over 4,000 attorneys and affiliate members, has decided to file a brief in a divorce appeal in favor of the right of same sex spouses in Florida to divorce. The Family Law Section is joined by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (“AAML”) in what is believed to be the first same sex divorce case in Florida to challenge the state’s Defense of Marriage Act and constitutional amendment banning “gay marriage.”
As an attorney for one of the spouses – who were married in Massachusetts, moved to Florida, and filed for divorce in Hillsborough County – I welcome the support of the Family Law Section and AAML.
In their motion requesting permission to file an amicus brief, the Family Law Section and the AAML write the following:
This case involves an attempted divorce of a same-sex couple who legally married in Massachusetts but now reside in Florida. The trial judge in the case refused to enter a divorce decree for the couple because by statute and constitutional provision Florida does not recognize same-sex marriages. As a result of the ruling, same-sex couples validly married in other states but living in Florida do not have access to our courts for divorce or for the orderly resolution of their legal rights and obligations. Accordingly, the requested amicus brief is being filed as a matter of family and matrimonial lawyers seeking finality and certainty in their area of practice, and to promote and protect the rights of all Floridians equally to access our court system and to rely upon the legal rights and obligations of civil marriage.
The motion notes that the Family Law Section is a voluntary organization, and that the brief is supported by the separate resources of the Family Law Section and not the mandatory membership fees paid by all members of the Florida Bar.
The parties in this case were able to resolve all of their issues and come to a full settlement agreement via the private dispute resolution process known as collaborative divorce. In this process, each party retained attorneys who acted solely as settlement counsel and were barred from engaging in destructive litigation. They had the help of a neutral facilitator with a mental health background to aid them in dealing with the emotional aspects of divorce and keep them focused on the future. They also utilized the expertise of a neutral financial planner who developed options in dividing their assets and debts and created a customized solution for their finances.
The collaborative process helped the women form a united front as they asked for a dissolution of their marriage. Though the Tampa trial judge denied their request, they are both on the same page in their Second District Court of Appeals case.
If you have questions about your Florida LGBT Family Law Rights and you would like to schedule a consultation, call The Law Firm of Adam B. Cordover, P.A. at (813) 443-0615 or fill out our contact form.