modern family formation & dissolution • estate planning & probate • divorce

legal protections for your modern family

Important milestones in life, such as settling down with the person you love or starting a family, often come with important legal implications. No matter what stage of your life you find yourself entering, sound legal advice can help protect your rights and assets.

Elizabeth F. Schwartz, PA was founded in 2001 to serve the unique legal needs of the modern Florida family, and is guided by these four principles:

  • We listen to our clients' concerns and intentions with respect and responsiveness.
  • We help our clients explore their options, and provide guidance through an unfamiliar legal landscape.
  • We provide creative, conscious lawyering, and when needed, vigorous advocacy.
  • We value compassion, quality, and peace of mind.


marriage equality is here!

Marriage Equality arrives for Miami-Dade County

On January 5, 2015, Judge Sarah Zabel, of the 11th Circuit Court in and for Miami-Dade County, lifted the stay on the order she had issued in July, 2014 in our case Pareto v. Ruvin, which found the ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional. The plaintiffs in the case, along with other residents of the county, were able to obtain their marriage licenses immediately afterward, and two of the plaintiff couples were wed shortly thereafter by Judge Zabel herself.


Click here to view video of the moment Judge Zabel issued her historic ruling!


On January 1st, Federal district court Judge Robert L. Hinkle confirmed his earlier marriage ruling in the case Grimsley and Albu v. Scott et al., clarifying that clerks of ALL Florida counties must issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples after his stay expires end of day January 5th. His order also instructed all state and local agencies that they must recognize any same-sex couple that was legally married in another state or country as being legally married under Florida law, and that any protections and rights afforded to such spouses must also be available to such married same-sex couples.

What does this mean for your relationship?

If you were married in another state or country: you DO NOT need to remarry in Florida, which means you do not need a Florida marriage license or a ceremony.  Your marriage validly entered into elsewhere will be automatically valid in Florida without any further action by you. There are many new rights and benefits you can now take advantage of - but there are also obligations that come with marriage.  Many of these rights, benefits and obligations are not automatic and do require further steps on your part.  For a list of steps you should consider taking, please click here.

If you entered into a civil union in another state, please note that a civil union is NOT considered equal to a marriage. Florida does not offer or recognize civil unions, so if you want to obtain the spousal rights that accrue with marriage, you will need to marry your partner in Florida or another state.

If you are not currently married, but are thinking about it, click here to read the top ten reasons why marriage might not be the right choice for you at the moment.

If you are committed to marrying your partner and need help figuring out the whole process, click here to visit Equality Florida's guide to getting married.

If you decide to not to marry at the moment, but want to avail yourselves of whatever protections are still available to you, click here to find out the top ten ways you can protect your family without marriage.

miami-dade expands human rights protections

Miami-Dade County Commission updates Human Rights Ordinance to include protections against discrimination based on gender identity and gender expression

Thanks to the hard work of grassroots organizations including SAVE, residents of Miami-Dade County are now covered by a more inclusive Human Rights Ordinance. Thanks to Commissioners Barreiro, Edmonson, Heyman, Jordan, Levine Cava, Monestime, Sosa, and Suarez for recognizing that all citizens deserve to feel safe and respected in their hometown.

Click here to read more about the commission's vote.

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