Our firm focuses on adoption, temporary custody by extended family member, guardianship of minors, dependency, termination of parental rights, paternity, surrogacy and appeals in any of the aforementioned areas. In addition to these areas, Ms. Tartaglia is frequently appointed by the court as Guardian ad Litem to act as next friend of the child, investigator or evaluator (not as attorney or advocate for the child). There’s more information about each area of practice, and about Guardians ad litem, below.


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.

Temporary/Concurrent Custody by Extended Family

Chapter 751 of Florida Statutes provides for custody of a child by an extended family member or fictive kin under certain circumstances, such as when the child’s parents are absent or unfit to parent the child. Another alternative for custody is concurrent custody whereby the family member (or fictive kin) and the parents both have custody of the child.

Guardianship of Minors

When you are seeking custody of a minor and you don’t fall under the definition of extended family or fictive kin, or if the child has assets exceeding a certain amount, Chapter 744 of Florida Statutes may be a more appropriate vehicle for you to obtain custody, depending upon your circumstances.


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 paternity and/or establish paternity of a child in order to preserve their right to consent to an adoption or assert their parental rights to the child. To claim paternity of a child, go to the Florida Department of Health immediately. fatherandson

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 Statutes
and 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.

Guardian ad Litem

In family law actions involving minor children, the parties may request, or the court may appoint on its own, a Guardian ad Litem to act as next friend of the child, investigator or evaluator. See Florida Statutes 61.401-405. If there are well-founded allegations of abandonment, abuse or neglect, the court is required to appoint a Guardian ad Litem. Depending upon the finances of the parties, the court may order that the Guardian ad Litem may provide his/her services pro bono or charge a reasonable hourly fee.


The contents of this website are intended for informational purposes only, and not to be construed as legal advice. Please consult with an attorney of your own choosing to determine your legal rights and obligations.


little boys

“Boy, n.:  a noise with dirt on it.” – Not Your Average Dictionary

“A little girl is sugar and spice and everything nice – especially when she’s taking a nap.” – Author Unknown