SURROGACY & ADOPTION
Contracts, Stepparent, Second Parent and Relative Adoptions
Surrogacy is relatively new, and a complex legal area. This can be especially true if the intended parents and the surrogate are from different jurisdictions.
There are two types of surrogacy, but we do strongly discourage one of them. The one we do discourage is traditional surrogacy. In this type of surrogacy, the surrogate uses one of her eggs, along with donated sperm or sperm of one of the intended parents, to produce the child. Since the surrogate has a biological connection to the child, there could be problems in terminating parental rights or allowance of adoption. I have seen some very difficult cases from this combination.
It is much better if the surrogate has no biological connection to the child, or at least one of the intended parents has a biological connection to the child. A surrogacy contact should be made up BEFORE implantation of the gametes or embryo.
A typical surrogacy contract will be very long, but it has to cover as many contingencies as possible, such as what happens in the event of the death of the intended parents, or complications during birth. This is not a contract you should enter into lightly. Further, both sides should have legal representation to make sure it is a fair agreement.
Florida does have some very favorable laws on surrogacy, so it has become a destination for some people from other jurisdictions. In the event you are taking the child back to another country, you should have already consulted an attorney from that country to make sure you will be able to have the child enter your country. The same goes for US citizens using international surrogates. You will certainly do much better if you have a genetic connection to the child. However, there have been some horror stories of international surrogacies gone awry. Please make sure you are as informed as possible before you undertake this option. We are certainly willing to be a part of that process to help you form your family.
As to adoptions, this traditional way of building your family can be a much more inexpensive way to build your family. We are certainly happy to talk to you about all forms of adoption, and see what works for your family.
DBPR and Other Administrative Agency Hearings
I will represent clients in administrative hearings, with exceptions involving the Prosecution Services Unit of the Department of Health and the Board of Medicine prior to December 19, 2019. If you click the link at the top of the page and then the pdf symbol, you will see the Commission on Ethics opinion as to my limitations as to those two entities. If you have any specific questions about this, please feel to ask directly. Administrative hearings are conducted very much like with civil trials, with some streamlining of procedures and evidentiary provisions. It is important that you have representation that is looking out for your interests, and not that of the state in general.
Dissolution, Child Custody, Child Support Issues
I can represent individuals in all parts of a dissolution, child custody or child support matter. That also can include dependency proceedings and termination of parental rights proceedings. I have a lot of trial experience, as well as plenty of mediation and negotiation experience in the family law setting. I have been trained in the collaborative law process, and can represent you in a collaborative divorce or other proceeding.
Chapters 7, 11 & 13
I have experience in Chapter 7 bankruptcy proceedings, which are the majority of bankruptcies. You are allowed to keep some assets. If you have more than the usual in assets or income, you may need to consider a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. For corporations and a very few high-asset and high-income individuals, you may need to consider a Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Sometimes bankruptcy is not for you, even in high debt situations. I will discuss your various options in any consultation.
State & Federal
I have appealed various decisions in state and federal matters. I do have three published opinions listed in my resume. An appeal should never be taken lightly. You must have a good record or the ability to present one, and you will want the law and/or the facts on your side. I can help you realistically decide whether it is in your best interest to proceed.
GENERAL CIVIL LITIGATION
State & Federal
I have extensive trial experience in many settings. I will be able to help you figure out what needs to be proven or not proven, whether you have legal arguments, and how to present testimony and evidence to make sure your side is represented with the best presentation possible. In every case, testimony, witnesses, and evidence do not always come in the way you want. It is my job to do as good a job as possible at presenting the evidence and arguments to persuade the fact finders and the judge that you are on the correct side of the law. I have the experience to help you with what often is a process filled with a lot of preparation, along with many important last-minute decisions.
I can help with your probate needs for large or small estates, including summary administration. Probate can be a long process, and we can help you understand what to expect.
SIMPLE ESTATE PLANNING
I can help you with your need for wills, trusts, durable powers of attorney, living wills, statements of authority to make disposition of remains, designations of health care surrogate, preneed guardianships, and prenuptial agreements. If you do have a large estate or complex needs, I may send you elsewhere. However, I should be able to help most persons or families. For a discussion of simple estate planning issues for primarily LGBT persons that Mr. Morris participated in at the Legal Aid Society of the Orange County Bar Association, please click here.
Wills & Estate Planning