Firm News and Notes
interviewed by the Tampa Bay Times on the issue of same-sex divorce. Below is an excerpt:
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.
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:
The Florida Bar News is sent to the the nearly 100,000 licensed attorneys in the state.
Tampa 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.
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.
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.
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,
Judge Altenbernd, however, wrote a dissenting opinion determining that the Second District Court of Appeals should not be certified to the Florida Supreme Court:
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,
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:
Collaborative family law, also referred to as collaborative divorce, is a private form of dispute resolution where the clients each retain attorneys who are settlement specialists and focus solely on helping the parties reaching an agreement with going to court. A neutral facilitator, who generally has a mental health background, helps the clients focus on what is important to them, such as their children, rather than arguments of the past. A neutral financial professional, generally an accountant or financial planner, ensures financial transparency between the clients and helps them develop financial options that is acceptable to both clients.
Adam B. Cordover was an attorney in the first pro bono collaborative divorce completed in the State of Florida. Cordover is also president of Next Generation Divorce, Florida' largest network of attorneys, mental health professionals, and financial professionals dedicated to helping families resolve divorce and other issues privately, respectfully, and with their dignity intact. Next Generation Divorce covers Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, Sarasota, and Manatee Counties.
Tampa Tribune article on same sex marriage and divorce cases happening around Florida. Below are some excerpts:
If you have questions about your 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.
In March 2014, Tampa Bay family law attorney Adam B. Cordover was interviewed for the program Legally Speaking on Spirit F.M. 90.5, a Christian radio station. Adam was joined by fellow collaborative attorney Joryn Jenkins to discuss the consequences that the traditional adversarial court process has not only on spouses and their children, but also the community as a whole.
It is rare for both spouses to remain at the same church post-divorce, yet collaborative divorce offers the possibility of maintaining relationships and utilizing not only legal standards, but also community standards and family values when discussing tough issues such as child custody and financial support. Rather than knock-down, drag out fights in the public courthouse, personal decisions related to divorce are made by the spouses in the private offices of professionals.
Each client has their own attorney to turn to for advise and guidance. A neutral facilitator, who usually has training in a mental health field, helps manage the clients' emotions, teaches better communication and dispute resolution skills, and helps focus the clients on what is most important to them. Oftentimes, a neutral financial professional is brought on board to serve as a central depository for all financial information, develop personalized options for division of assets and debts and support issues, and teach the clients good budgeting and money-management skills as needed.
The clients and collaborative attorneys sign a participation agreement which says that they will act with dignity and respect, and that the attorneys will focus solely on helping the parties' reach a marital settlement agreement. The practical effect of the participation agreement is that the attorneys will withdraw if the parties act unreasonably or engage in contested courtroom battles.
The Law Firm of Adam B. Cordover, P.A., encourages anybody considering divorce to first speak with his or her priest, rabbi, clergy, therapist, or counselor. Divorce is difficult, even under the best of circumstances, and especially when there are children involved. However, if the marriage is truly irreparably broken, the clients, their children, and the community are usually best served if the collaborative divorce process is utilized.
If you have questions regarding how the collaborative divorce process can help you or someone in your community, schedule a consultation with The Law Firm of Adam B. Cordover, P.A., at (813) 443-0615 or fill out our contact form.
Adam B. Cordover is the current President of Next Generation Divorce, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization composed of a network of caring attorneys, mental health professionals, and financial professionals covering Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, Sarasota, and Manatee Counties.
The talk was part of the "Ask A Lawyer" series spearheaded by the Hillsborough County Bar Association Lawyer Referral and Information Service and held in conjunction with Next Generation Divorce.
Cordover and Johnson discussed collaborative divorce as a private, respectful alternative to the traditional courtroom battles. They also discussed how not only attorneys, but also financial professionals and mental health professionals are oftentimes utilized to address the emotional and financial aspects of divorce.
Adam B. Cordover is currently president of Next Generation Divorce as well as Outreach Chair for the Hillsborough County Bar Association Collaborative Law Section. Cordover is also tapped to be a speaker at the August 2014 Second Annual Conference of the Collaborative Family Law Council of Florida in Orlando, Florida, as well as the October 2014 Educational Forum of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals in Vancouver, Canada.
If you have questions about how collaborative divorce can help divorcing spouses reach an agreement without destroying their family, schedule a consultation with The Law Firm of Adam B. Cordover, P.A., at (813) 443-0615 or fill out our contact form.