Are we heterosexual?

By Robin Roshkind, Esquire, West Palm Beach, Florida

Like the debate on whether or not we humans are meant to be monagamous, there is ongoing expert commentary on whether or not we humans are meant to be heterosexual.  But what happens when we are not?  What does the law in the state of Florida say about that? 

To some extent, Florida recognizes committed same sex domestic partnerships.  But this comes under contract law not family law.  What that means is that same sex committed couples can outline their relationship in terms of rights and obligations of each party in a co habitation agreement.  This agreement, if done properly, will be upheld or enforced in a court of law in this state if necessary.

Men and women of same sex orientation often find themselves in long term traditional heterosexual marriages.  Often if they get “caught” by the spouse, a divorce action and/or custody battle ensues.  Sexual orientation is used against that spouse in parenting allegations.  The law does not support that UNLESS the best interests of the child is at stake or there is some detriment to the child.   Those of same sex pursuasions can be perfectly good parents, and courts here recognize that. 

However, if you are in a traditional marriage and find your spouse to be something other than you thought, you have two choices:  either look the other way and make the marriage work, or file for divorce.  Keep in mind that you should be sensitive to your children’s needs. 

Where two homosexual partners decide to call the relationship over, again the case will proceed under contract law.  If there is a home that was purchased together, or some other financial arrangements or living arrangements were agreed to, with the break up of the relationship, the issues will be decided under Florida contract law.   If children are involved in a same sex relationship, the natural parent will prevail if it is in the best interests of the child. 

For more information about this or other topics of interest, please call one of the lawyers at ROBIN ROSHKIND, P.A. at 561-835-9091 or click on the Firm’sweb site at www.familylawwpb.com.

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About Robin Roshkind, P.A. Divorce Lawyers, West Palm Beach, Florida

Robin Roshkind, Esquire, founded the Firm on May 17, 1998, the day she was admitted into The Florida Bar.  She was 43 years old when she went back to law school.  Her children were 10 and 12 years old.  Her marriage was over, and a nasty divorce was about to begin.   Her divorce and her law school education took the same three years.  In 1998, she founded the Firm as a solo practitioner at the age of 46.  She had never worked in a law firm before.  So she hired really good people. 

Today, Attorney Maria Patullo has been with the Firm for more than 9 years.  Certified Family Law Paralegal, Laura “Charlie” Petrich, has been with the Firm for more than 9 years.  Attorney Catherine Eaton has been with the Firm for 8 years, and Certified Family Law Paralegal Darlene Hayes, 5 1/2 years.   The staff also includes Tracy Von Schmittou, a Certified Family Law Paralegal, who does all the Firm’s document discovery, and Legal Assistant, Jennifer Perez, who is bilingual.  

The Firm has an excellent reputation among the bar and the bench in Palm Beach County, Florida.  Its area of concentration is divorce, collaborative divorce, mediation, paternity, custody disputes, prenuptial agreements, relocation with children, child support, alimony disputes, name changes, same sex couples issues, including cohabitation agreements.   For more information, contact one of the Firm’s attorneys at 561-835-9091 or visit our web site at www.familylawwpb.com.

DOMESTIC PARTNER AGREEMENTS…What they mean to you.

By Robin Roshkind, Esquire – West Palm Beach, Florida

There are many reasons to legally marry.  But there are also many legal reasons to live together under one roof and not marry.

One reason to not marry is if one partner is getting alimony payments.  Generally, by operation of law, alimony ceases upon remarriage of the recipient.   Another reason not to marry is to be able to continue to collect social security benefits.  A third reason is that marriage is prohibited among gay and lesbian couples in the state of Florida.  They can’t marry, at least not yet and until the laws change.

Whether the relationship is heterosexual or homosexual, in addition to the emotional bonds between unmarrieds, this segment of the population CAN still protect their legal rights by executing a domestic partnership agreement.

These legal documents are contracts that set forth in legal terms, the close relationship that takes place under one roof.  They are used as proof for health insurance coverage and other company benefits of one partner to the other.  They allow for beneficiary designations, visits in the hospital, property rights, and also responsibilities of one partner to the other and the household.  They are wholly recognized and enforcable in a court of law.  They are for life partners who are in a long term relationship but choose not to marry or cannot marry. 

Issues that need to be addressed by this segment of society also include power of attorney, which allows one partner to legally stand in the shoes of the other, to sign contracts, collect rent, write checks and pay bills, open and close bank accounts, credit card accounts, purchase insurance, buy or sell property, etc.

Health care surrogacy agreements provide for health care decision making should one partner be incapacitated, unconscious or unable to make medical decisions for themselves. 

Pre need guardianship agreements are legal documents that establish one partner as legal guardian over the other and his or her property, in advance.  These agreements go into effect when and if the need arises.

Living wills are legal documents that designate who should make the decision and when to “pull the plug” should one partner become in a vegitative state.   Oftentimes a partner designates the other partner and the treating physician/s to make this decision jointly.

Cohabitation agreements set forth in a legal contract, who pays for what in the household, and how the assets and debts are to be split should the relationship fail.  There can be no divorce if there is no marriage, so cohabitation agreements serve the purpose of the prenuptial agreements for unmarrieds.

The BIG POINT is this:  IF YOU ARE LIVING WITH A PARTNER IN A CLOSE RELATIONSHIP AND ARE NOT GOING TO MARRY, THERE ARE STEPS YOU CAN TAKE AND SHOULD TAKE TO PROTECT YOURSELF AND YOUR PARTNER UNDER THE LAW.  For more information go to the web site of Robin Roshkind, P.A. at www.familylawwpb.com or consult with one of our attorneys by calling for an appointment today.  561-835-9091.

Same Sex Couples Need Legal Services. Here’s why…

By Robin Roshkind, Esquire – West Palm Beach, Florida

Sometimes, a traditionally married homosexual man or woman finds he or she cannot take a heterosexual life anymore.  They not only come out of the closet, they come out of a heterosexual marriage to find a same sex partner more suitable to their sexual orientation. 

Aside from the obvious divorce scenario, and perhaps even custody battles, same sex couples need the following documents drafted and executed:

1.  A pre-need guardianship.  This is in case one or the other party becomes incapacitated.  Since same sex couples do not have the same rights as marrieds, this document is important to determine a guardianship situation.  Guardianship is two-fold: power over the person and the property.

2.  Power of attorney.  This gives the other partner powers to sell, rent, contract, take bank drafts, pay bills and more.  It literally gives the partner power to stand in the shoes of the partner in a legal sense.

3.   Living will.  Everyone should have this.  It dictates who will be standing over you should you be in a vegetative state and be deciding how and when “to pull the plug.”  You can appoint your partner and your doctor, your siblings, anyone else you want to. 

4.  Health care surrogacy.  This document names who you want to stand in your shoes to make medical decisions for you should you become unable to do this on your own.  In normal marriages, it is the spouse.  Not so, in same sex couple relationships, unless there is a signed, notarized health care surrogacy document. 

5.  A will or trust.  Nothing will be left to your same sex partner unless you say so, formally, legally.

6.  Organ donor documents.  If you want to be an organ donor, you need to tell someone, formally, legally.

7.  Co habitation agreements.  This is important because it frames the ongoing relationship as well as outlines the potential, possible break up.  It delineates whose property is belongs to whom, who pays for what in running the household, and puts forth the couples’ rights, responsibilities and obligations.  These documents play an important role in the break up because there is no “legal divorce” from a same sex partnership.  The co habitation agreement controls.  It comes under contract law not family law.

For more information about these legal documents for same sex couples in Florida, please visit the Firm’s web site at www.familylawwpb.com or call Robin Roshkind, P.A. for a consultation with one of our attorneys at 561-835-9091.

Family Law…the laws of love and hate

By Robin Roshkind, Esquire – West Palm Beach, Florida

The Florida Legislature in all its wisdom has developed many laws between people that fall into the category of family law.  What is family law?  It is the legal effects of these relationships, so I have listed each of them for you.  As you know, we can’t pick our families, so in certain instances it might be a love relationship, and in other circumstances, it could be a hate relationship.  Here’s the list of “loved” ones in the family that Florida family laws protect:

  1. blood relatives
  2. dead relatives
  3. intimate relationships of unrelated persons
  4. siblings
  5. parents
  6. children
  7. step children
  8. adopted children
  9. minor children
  10. children with special needs
  11. same sex couples
  12. husbands
  13. wives
  14. ex spouses
  15. the elderly
  16. the unborn
  17. adoptive parents
  18. grandparents
  19. guardians
  20. custodians
  21. health care surrogates

How these relationships are dealt with in the legal sense is what family law is all about.

For additional information on any of these, please call my law firm, Robin Roshkind, P.A., for a consultation (561-835-9091) or view the firm’s website at www.familylawwpb.com.