Our firm focuses on adoption, dependency, termination of parental rights, paternity,
surrogacy and appeals.
Listed below is a comprehensive list of services we offer our clients.
Melissa handles every type of adoption including: private adoptions of non-relative children, relative children, stepchildren, and adults; and adoptions of foster children (State adoptions). More than 50-percent of her cases involve adoption.
When a child is at risk of abuse, abandonment or neglect, the State or a citizen can bring an
action to remove the child from the harmful circumstances. This is called a dependency
As an attorney for Department of Children and Family Services and then as an Assistant State Attorney in Pasco County, Florida, Melissa prosecuted State-initiated dependency actions.
Now in her own practice, many of her cases are private dependency actions brought
by concerned relatives or neighbors.
Termination of Parental Rights
In order to adopt a child, the parental rights of the child’s parents must first be terminated. Some parents consent to their parental rights being terminated, and others do not.
Melissa handles uncontested as well as contested termination of parental rights cases, whether the child is a relative, a stepchild, or a non-relative.
Melissa has also had several clients who were awarded permanent guardianship of a child through a State-initiated dependency action, but then later decided they wanted to adopt the child. Melissa has terminated parental rights in those cases and completed the adoption.
Most unmarried fathers do not know they must claim and/or establish paternity of a child in order to preserve their parental rights to the child. To claim paternity of a child, go to the Florida Department of Health immediately.
In addition to filing a claim of paternity, an unmarried
biological father must provide support to the birth mother (during pregnancy) and to the child, if he is to establish his parental rights to his child.
If an unmarried biological father is served with a Notice of Intended Adoption Plan, he must claim paternity, provide support, and must respond to the Notice of Intended
Adoption Plan with a sworn statement that he is willing and able to care for and support the child. Go to the
Florida Statutesand read sections 63.053 and 63.054 for more information.
Melissa represents unmarried fathers who desire to establish paternity, preserve parental rights to a child, and who are seeking visitation or custody.
Florida’s surrogacy statute, specifically F.S. 742.11 through 742.16, is one of the best in the nation for insuring the enforceability of a gestational surrogacy agreement. Melissa has represented gestational surrogates and the intended parents in her practice.
Appeals and Writs
In addition to the types of cases described above, Melissa also handles appeals and writs in all those areas of law.
“A little girl is sugar and spice and everything nice – especially when she’s taking a nap.” – Author Unknown