Firm News and Notes

Cordover Presents on Collaborative Divorce and Blogging

posted Mar 22, 2015, 7:22 AM by Adam Cordover   [ updated Mar 22, 2015, 7:22 AM ]

Tampa Bay Attorney Adam B. Cordover was a featured speaker during a two-day advanced collaborative training led by Woody Mosten, a nationally renowned mediator and family law attorney based out of Beverly Hills, California.  The theme of the training was "Building A Satisfying And Profitable Collaborative and Mediation Practice."  Adam led a workshop on "Deepening Knowledge and Communicating About Collaborative Divorce via Blogging."  The main sponsor of the event was Next Generation Divorce, Florida's largest collaborative practice group.

Over 60 professionals attended the advanced training, including attorneys, accountants, financial planners, psychologists, therapists, educators, and real estate agents.  The whole point was to build sustainable companies and firms that would help families restructure in a healthy manner rather than be torn apart via the traditional courtroom divorce process.

If you have questions about how a Tampa Bay collaborative family law process can help you, schedule a consultation with The Law Firm of Adam of Adam B. Cordover, P.A., at (813) 443-0615 or fill out our contact form.

Adam B. Cordover is president of Next Generation Divorce, Co-Chair of the Collaborative Family Law Council of Florida Research Committee, and a graduate of the Inaugural Leadership Academy of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals.

Cordover Quoted in Tampa Tribune Same Sex Divorce Article

posted Feb 20, 2015, 11:55 AM by Adam Cordover   [ updated Feb 20, 2015, 11:57 AM ]

IA908834_large.jpgCollaborative Family Law Attorney Adam B. Cordover was quoted in an article last month in the Tampa Tribune titled "Gay marriage legal in Florida, but gay divorce still cloudy."  Below are some excerpts from the article:

A Tampa couple wed in Massachusetts have been fighting for the right to divorce; state courts have not yet definitively ruled whether to recognize same-sex couples statewide.

“It would not make sense for the clerks to issue marriage licenses that the courts do not recognize,” said attorney Adam Cordover, who represents Keiba Lynn Shaw in her bid to divorce Mariama Changamire Shaw. “It just absolutely would not make sense to do that. But ultimately, the state courts may want to make up their own mind on the merits.”

The anticipated same-sex marriage licenses are the result of a federal judge’s ruling in Tallahassee that the state’s constitutional and legislative bans violate the federal constitution. A stay of that federal ruling will expire on Tuesday, opening the gates to same-sex marriages in Florida.

In the meantime, the Shaws’ divorce case is pending before the 2nd District Court of Appeal. The couple are seeking to overturn a decision in May by Hillsborough Circuit Judge Laurel M. Lee that she could not dissolve a marriage that legally does not exist in the state of Florida.

Lawyers said they’re waiting for the appellate court to schedule oral arguments in the Shaw divorce case.

But last week, another state appellate court, the 3rd District Court of Appeal in South Florida, issued a ruling denying a same-sex divorce. In that case, the couple married in Iowa in 2009 and later moved to Florida. The women, Sarah Oliver and Heather Ann Stufflebeam, filed for divorce in Miami-Dade, but were denied.

“The state could conceivably take the position that there will be these marriage licenses - we’re just not going to recognize them,” Cordover said.

“Simply stated,” the appellate court wrote, “one cannot dissolve a marriage where there is not a marriage to dissolve.” Granting a divorce, the court said, “concedes that a valid marriage in fact exists.”

That ruling came exactly a week after a Broward Circuit judge granted another same-sex couple a divorce.

Unlike the Miami-Dade couple, the Shaws in Tampa are challenging the constitutionality of the state bans.

Brett Rahall, who is representing Mariama Shaw, said they also included the same argument about the law not applying to divorces but felt that claim was their weakest point.

The 3rd DCA ruling is “kind of messed up, Rahall said. And it’s made the legal status “even more muddy.”

“The state could conceivably take the position that there will be these marriage licenses - we’re just not going to recognize them,” Cordover said.

***
The Shaws worked out their differences through a process known as collaborative divorce. They are seeking only a legal ruling that their marriage has ended.

Since this article was written, divorces of same-sex couples have been successfully completed in Hillsborough County and around the state, though there is not uniformity in that outcome.

If you have questions regarding Florida LGBT family law rights and you want to speak with an attorney experienced in the field, schedule a consultation with The Law Firm of Adam B. Cordover, P.A., at (813) 443-0615 or fill out our contact form.

Cordover Guest Speaker at Boca Raton Collaborative Meeting

posted Feb 17, 2015, 2:11 PM by Adam Cordover   [ updated Feb 20, 2015, 11:56 AM ]

Choose CollaborativeTampa attorney Adam B. Cordover was recently a guest speaker at the South Palm Beach County Collaborative Law Group.  Adam spoke on the topic of What You And Your Practice Group Can Do To Help More Clients Via the Collaborative Divorce Process.

As president of Next Generation Divorce, Florida's largest interdisciplinary collaborative practice group, Adam is a leader in the promotion of collaborative divorce, a private and respectful method to resolve marital issues.  Adam also serves as Research Chair of the Collaborative Family Law Council of Florida, and he is a graduate of the Inaugural Leadership Academy of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals.

The South Palm Beach County Collaborative Law Group is an association of Attorneys, Financial Professionals, Mental Health Professionals and Mediators who work together to highlight the benefits of the Collaborative Process.
Its goal is to assist South Florida couples to work toward a mutually fair and equitable end to their relationship without the acrimony, anxiety and financial cost that often accompanies litigation, and to protect the integrity and health of family relationships.

Tampa Collaborative Divorce Firm Sponsors WUSF / NPR

posted Feb 9, 2015, 8:21 AM by Adam Cordover   [ updated Feb 9, 2015, 8:21 AM ]

You may have recently heard the following announcement on WUSF/NPR:   "Sponsored by The Law Firm of Adam B. Cordover, offering Collaborative Divorce, a private, child-focused family law process . . .  without litigation.  Information is available at  813-443-0615 or ABCFamilyLaw.com."

The Law Firm of Adam B. Cordover, P.A., is proud to announce its sponsorship of WUSF 89.7, Tampa Bay's public media and NPR station.  WUSF 89.7 broadcasts local, statewide and national news, and all night jazz.  Locally produced programs like Florida Matters provide listeners local content on local issues.  As West Central Florida's NPR station, WUSF carries flagship programs Morning Edition and All Things Considered, that bring you national news at its best.  WUSF serves members and listeners from Crystal River in the North, to Port Charlotte in the South, and Osceola County to the East.

Tampa Bay Times Interviews Attorney Cordover on Same-Sex Divorce

posted Jan 17, 2015, 8:34 AM by Adam Cordover   [ updated Jan 17, 2015, 8:34 AM ]

Tampa Bay family law attorney Adam B. Cordover was recently interviewed by the Tampa Bay Times on the issue of same-sex divorce.  Below is an excerpt:

Although a federal judge has made it clear that county clerks across Florida must issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, other issues related to gay marriage await clarification.

Divorce is one. Tampa lawyer Adam Cordover is representing a same-sex couple who married in another state but whose divorce was refused in a Florida court.

"My expectations are that more judges will ultimately grant more divorces (after Tuesday)," Cordover said, "but it's still unclear."

And there are other questions. Will the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles issue new driver's licenses to same-sex couples who changed their name? Will the nonbiological parent in a same-sex marriage be able to add his or her name to the child's birth certificate? Will government agencies in Florida be required to insure the spouses of gay employees, as they do for straight couples?

Unless the governor's or attorney general's offices provide further guidance to executive departments, agencies and administrations, these questions could remain unanswered until each one is tested in court, Cordover said.

If you have questions about LGBT family law issues, schedule a consultation with The Law Firm of Adam B. Cordover, P.A., at (813) 443-0615 or fill out our contact form.

Fox 13 Interviews Cordover on Latest Gay Marriage Rulings

posted Dec 24, 2014, 7:42 AM by Adam Cordover   [ updated Dec 24, 2014, 7:43 AM ]

Attorney Adam B. Cordover was recently interview on Fox 13 Tampa Bay about the latest Florida court cases related to same-sex marriage and divorce.  You can see the video interview at the following link:  http://www.myfoxtampabay.com/clip/10968105/latest-gay-marriage-ruling.

Adam is a strong supporter of Florida LGBT Family Law Rights and is experienced in challenging Florida's laws when they infringe upon those rights.

Call to Accept Same-Sex Divorce Cases in Florida Bar News

posted Nov 22, 2014, 6:14 AM by Adam Cordover

The Florida Bar News recently published a Letter to the Editor submitted by Tampa collaborative lawyer Adam B. Cordover.  In the Letter, Cordover calls for his fellow family law attorneys to help same-sex spouses whose marriage is irretrievably broken dissolve their marriage.  Florida courts throughout the state have been unevenly adjudicating petitions for divorce by same-sex partners, with some granting the divorce and others denying it.

The Letter to the Editor (which can be found by clicking here and scrolling down) is reproduced below:

Same-Sex Divorce

On August 27, the Second District Court of Appeal certified Shaw v. Shaw to the Florida Supreme Court. Shaw involves two women who lawfully married in Massachusetts and moved to Tampa. They separated, came to full settlement via the interdisciplinary collaborative process, and petitioned in the 13th Judicial Circuit to dissolve their marriage. Their petition was dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to the state’s same-sex marriage ban, and the parties appealed.

In the certification order, Judge Altenbernd authored a dissenting opinion in which he wrote, “Given that same-sex marriages are a recent development in other states, I am not convinced that Florida’s courts will be clogged in the next three years with out-of-state same-sex couples seeking dissolution. I cannot certify that this order will have ‘a great effect on the proper administration of justice through the state’ requiring immediate review in the Supreme Court.”

On September 5, the Supreme Court declined jurisdiction, citing Judge Altenbernd’s dissent, and sent the case back to the Second District.

Though Judge Altenbernd is correct in that same-sex spouses have not been clogging the courts to get divorced, he may be wrong in his assertion that the reason is because same-sex marriage is a recent development. What is more likely accurate is that we family law attorneys have been blocking LGBT families’ access to the courts.

And not without reason. Most of us figured that if same-sex marriage is not recognized in the state, then Florida courts could not dissolve those marriages. And so we said, “There is nothing I can do for you.”

But now we are coming to the realization that a law that affects the fundamental right to marry and seeks to prevent same-sex couples from enjoying the right cannot rationally be related to preventing same-sex spouses from dissolving their out-of-state marriage.

We should now take on these cases, while letting clients know that the law is in flux. We should review our Oath of Admission: “I will never reject, from any consideration personal to myself, the cause of the defenseless or oppressed.”  

We should properly administer justice.
 
Adam B. Cordover
Tampa

The Florida Bar News is sent to the the nearly 100,000 licensed attorneys in the state.

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

Tampa Divorce Attorney Presents at International Collaborative Conference

posted Nov 1, 2014, 7:25 AM by Adam Cordover

2014FORUM HOLDINGHOPE LetterheadTampa Attorney Adam B. Cordover recently presented in Vancouver, B.C., Canada, at the 15th Annual Networking and Educational Forum of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals ("IACP").  Adam presented on the topic of How Practice Groups Create Successful Collaborators. 

Adam is president of Next Generation Divorce, Florida's largest practice group of collaborative family law attorneys, mental health professionals, and financial professionals.  Adam co-presented with collaborative law leaders from around the U.S. and Canada: Susan Buniva, a mental health professional from Richmond, Virginia; Joelle Adelson, a lawyer from Oakville, Ontario; Deborah Conflenti, a lawyer from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Amy Stewart, a lawyer from Indianapolis, Indiana; Kevin Scudder, a lawyer from Seattle, Washington; and Brian Galbraith, an attorney from Barrie, Ontario.

The presentation was the capstone of a year long program of the Inaugural IACP Leadership Academy. The purpose of the IACP Leadership Academy was to develop the leadership skills of participants in order to assist them in making the most effective contributions to the growth and development of the Collaborative movement, both locally and internationally.

If you have questions about how the collaborative process can help your family resolve disputes privately and respectfully, schedule a consultation with The Law Firm of Adam B. Cordover, P.A., at (813) 443-0615 or fill out our contact form.

Cordover Co-Presents at the Florida Association of Family and Conciliation Courts

posted Oct 18, 2014, 8:44 AM by Adam Cordover   [ updated Oct 18, 2014, 8:45 AM ]

Attorney Adam B. Cordover served as a guest presenter with the Florida Collaborative Trainers at the 11th Annual Conference of the Florida Association of Family and Conciliation Courts.  Cordover and the Collaborative Trainers presented on the topic of "Recognizing and Managing the Challenging Client."

The Florida Chapter of the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (FLAFCC) is an organization of judicial, legal, mental health, financial and related professionals utilizing education, research and advocacy to improve the lives of children and families through the collaborative resolution of family conflict.

Other guest presenters included Sammi Siegel, Ph.D., and George Melendez, Esq.  The Florida Collaborative Trainers consist of Robert J. Merlin, Esq., Rosemarie Roth, Esq., Edward S. Sachs, CPA, and Lana M. Stern, Ph.D.

Update on High Profile Tampa Same Sex Divorce Case

posted Sep 7, 2014, 7:28 AM by Adam Cordover   [ updated Sep 7, 2014, 8:42 AM ]

I have had the honor of representing a client in what has turned out to be a high profile court matter.  My client, a woman, married another woman in Massachusetts, eventually moved to Florida, and later the parties determined that the marriage was irretrievably broken.  The two women then went through the collaborative process, came to a full settlement agreement, and formed a united front before a Hillsborough County judge as they requested a dissolution of their marriage.

The trial court ultimately denied their request, determining that, because Florida does not recognize marriage between two people of the same sex, the court did not have jurisdiction to grant a divorce.  

The parties appealed to the Second District Court of Appeals, and at the same time they requested that the case be certified directly to the Florida Supreme Court.  They argued that the issue of whether two women who married in another jurisdiction can be divorced in Florida is of great public importance and affects the administration of justice throughout the state.  In the request, we pointed out that some judges in Florida were granting divorces to same sex spouses, and so the issue was being unevenly adjudicated depending on which part of the state couples lived in.  The request for certification was denied by a panel of Second District judges.
"For whatever it is worth, we encourage the Attorney General to make an appearance.  There is no better demonstration of the lack of any legitimate state interest for preventing two women from divorcing than having someone attempt to argue its rationality."

The Family Law Section of the Florida Bar soon requested that they be permitted to file a brief in the case.  The Section sought to file "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 Section's request was granted.

In the meantime, several cases involving similar issues began making headway throughout the state.  Monroe and Miami-Dade County judges declared Florida's same sex marriage ban unconstitutional for purposes of the state granting marriage licenses to same sex couples.  Those decisions were stayed pending appeal by the attorney general's office.  Further, a Broward judge declared the ban unconstitutional and determined that is could and should grant a dissolution of a civil union between two women.  The attorney general's office is still determining whether it will appeal this matter.

In light of these decisions, the entire Second District Court of Appeals decided to revisit the issue of certification, and in a 10-3 ruling, determined that the Tampa same sex divorce case should be certified directly to the Florida Supreme Court.  In its opinion, the appellate court stated, 

Resolution of the constitutional questions will no doubt impact far more individuals than the two involved here.  And there can be little doubt that until the constitutional questions are finally resolved by the Florida Supreme Court or the United States Supreme Court, there will be a great impact on the proper administration of justice in Florida.  Similarly, in light of those questions, it seems clear that this is a matter of great public importance.

Judge Altenbernd, however, wrote a dissenting opinion determining that the Second District Court of Appeals should not be certified to the Florida Supreme Court: 

We have an order from one circuit judge containing no reasoning as to the issue on appeal.  That order is not binding law on her colleagues in the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit, much less on the judges in other circuits.  I am confident that this court can ably consider this appeal and reach a proper resolution.  Our decision will resolve the issue for all trial courts in Florida unless another district court disagrees with us [citation omitted].

Ultimately, the Florida Supreme Court sided with Judge Altenbernd, declined at this time to accept jurisdiction over the case, and remanded the matter back to the Second District Court of Appeals.  Though this results in the case going through the regular course of appeals, it did not in any way suggest that either the Second DCA or the Florida Supreme Court would in the end rule against the parties' right to dissolve their marriage.

In another development, the Cities of St. Petersburg, Miami Beach, and Orlando (among others) filed a motion for leave to file a brief in the case.  In their motion, the Cities state, 

Our Mayors and Commissioners have resolved that marriage discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender ("LGBT") individuals is inimical to our citizens' health and welfare, detrimental to our efficiency and effectiveness as employers, and costs Government Amici hard-earned tourism revenue.  Likewise, Florida's prohibition on recognizing same sex marriages that were performed outside of florida unfairly denies married LGBT individuals the ability to terminate their legal relationship and wind up their finances, child custody, and support arrangements, even once their underlying relationship has ended.  Florida's refusal to allow married same sex couples to obtain a divorce is psychologically harmful and financially burdensome for same sex couples and their families.  Therefore, Government Amici have a powerful interest and unique voice as to the issue before the Court:  the validity of Florida's ban on same sex marriage and refusal to grant a divorce to married same sex couples.

The appellate court has yet to make a ruling on the Cities' request.

What is also up in the air is whether Florida's Attorney General, Pam Bondi, will make an appearance in this matter. For whatever it is worth, we encourage the Attorney General to make an appearance.  There is no better demonstration of the lack of any legitimate state interest for preventing two women from divorcing than having someone attempt to argue its rationality.

In any event, this Firm will continue to fight for resolution for its clients, and, in the meantime, advocate for marriage and divorce equality.

Below are links to recent articles in this matter:

If you have questions regarding Florida LGBT family law rights, schedule a consultation with The Law Firm of Adam B. Cordover, P.A., at (813) 443-0615, or fill out our contact form.

1-10 of 64