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Florida is a Surrogacy-Friendly State

Florida is a Surrogacy-Friendly State

Surrogacy has become an increasingly popular option for those struggling to conceive or carry a child. Even though entering into a surrogacy agreement is illegal in some states, that is not the case in Florida. In fact, Florida surrogacy laws are some of the least restrictive in the country. Nonetheless, surrogacy law is complex and a qualified Miami surrogacy attorney can guide clients through the surrogacy process.

Two Legal Surrogacy Agreements

Under Florida surrogacy laws both forms of surrogacies are allowed, gestational surrogacy and traditional surrogacy. Florida statute 742.15 governs Gestational Surrogacy Agreements, while statute 62.213 governs Pre-Planned Adoption Agreements, also called Traditional Surrogacy Agreements. Intended parents, legally referred to as the “commissioning couple,” can enter either of these agreements.

    • Gestational Surrogacy Agreement (GSA)

Pregnancy is created through in vitro fertilization, at least one of the intended parents must contribute genetic material, and the surrogate is prohibited from donating her own egg. Permitted combinations include:

    • egg and sperm from the intended parents
    • egg from intended mother and sperm from separate donor
    • sperm from intended father and egg from separate donor

To enter this type of agreement, the commissioning couple must establish the health risks, confirmed by a physician’s diagnosis, that prevent the intended mother from carrying the child herself.

    • Traditional Surrogacy Agreement (TSA)

Traditional surrogacy is significantly less popular than gestational due to legal issues. In this type of agreement, the surrogate can donate her own egg to create the pregnancy. The egg is fertilized with the intended father’s sperm, inside the surrogate’s uterus. Therefore, the child is biologically connected to the surrogate.

Parental Rights in Surrogacy Agreements

As dictated by Florida surrogacy laws, a written contract needs to be signed for either type of surrogacy agreement. An experienced Miami surrogacy attorney can help commissioning couples draft these contracts. However, the assignment of parental rights may depend on whether the surrogacy was gestational or traditional.

Gestational Surrogacy — The surrogate is not biologically connected to the child and therefore has no legal parental right to the child after giving birth. She relinquishes away any and all of her parental rights when signing the contract. The commissioning couple automatically has the parental and custodial rights of the child after the birth.

Traditional Surrogacy — Since the surrogate has a biological connection with the child, the assignment of parental and custody can become complicated. She may consent in the contract to give up her parental rights, but she has the right to rescind her consent and terminate the contract within 48 hours of the birth of the child. In which case, the legal counsel of a Miami surrogacy attorney becomes necessary for the commissioning couple.

The assistance of a seasoned Miami surrogacy attorney is beneficial for those who want to enter a surrogacy agreement, whether you are an intended parent or the surrogate. At Pimentel & Castillo, we are committed to make the process as smooth as possible for our every client. If legal drawbacks do occur, we are skilled at defending our client’s rights in court. Call us today for a free consultation.

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Governing and Jurisdiction Clauses in Contracts Q&A

Governing and Jurisdiction Clauses in Contracts Q&A

A contract represents a legally binding agreement between two or more parties. However, even when all the parties sign on the dotted line contract disputes may still come up. When a dispute occurs and both parties have chosen to resolve it through civil litigation important questions come up, particularly when the two parties operate in different states. Where will the case be heard? Who will interpret the contract’s terms and based on what set of laws?

To significantly reduce the possibility of a lengthy and expensive dispute, it is advisable to get ahead of the problem by answering these questions before contract disputes arise by enlisting the expertise of a Miami civil litigation lawyer during the drafting of any contract. They will be sure to include both a Governing Clause and Jurisdiction Clause.

What is a Governing Clause?

The first step in determining which laws will be applied toward the resolution of contract disputes is to include a governing clause (also called choice of law clause) within the contract. Laws, especially those governing business contracts, vary by state. So, there may be various legal interpretations of the same contract depending on which state laws are applied. By including a governing clause, both parties agree on which state’s laws will govern the contract and interpret its terms should a dispute arise. Governing clauses are especially important when the parties signing the contract, such as businesses, are operating in separate states.

What is a Jurisdiction Clause?

Once a governing clause is agreed on, it is now time for the parties to choose which court(s) will have the right to hear any resulting contract disputes. This agreed-upon condition must be explicitly stated in the form of a jurisdiction clause (also called forum selection clause). By including a jurisdiction clause, both parties establish and agree on which court(s) will hear and decide on any disputes that arise from the contract. The jurisdiction clause and governing clause do not necessarily have to match, a specified state court can be made to apply laws from another state. There are two types of jurisdiction clauses.

      • Exclusive Jurisdiction — Only the court(s) specified in the clause have the right to handle contract disputes. Parties must litigate their case in those specified courts.
      • Non-Exclusive Jurisdiction — Both the specified court(s) and other courts not explicitly stated in the clause can handle disputes. Parties can choose to file their lawsuit in these unspecified courts.

Governing and jurisdiction clauses must be written precisely to prevent any misunderstandings and disagreements over jurisdiction in the future. The right choice of state laws and forum can also benefit a party and help them avoid disadvantages such as costly out-of-state litigation or unfavorable state laws. Consult with an experienced Miami civil litigation lawyer to ensure both these clauses, as well as the contract itself, are properly drafted.

At Pimentel & Castillo, our Florida civil litigation attorneys are skilled at drafting contracts and representing our clients in contract disputes. Call and request a free consultation with our experienced Florida civil litigation attorneys today.

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A Guide to Winning a Contract Dispute

A Guide to Winning a Contract Dispute

For most business owners, a disagreement over the terms of a contract is likely to arise at some point. Without an effective strategy in place, such disputes can quickly prove costly. Therefore, understanding how to ensure the outcome is advantageous is absolutely essential.

Whether filing a suit over an unfulfilled partnership agreement, or battling one over employment contracts, here are some tips for coming out on top.

Preparation is Key

The best defense (or depending on the situation, offense) to a contract dispute actually lies in what the business owner does before the contract is even finalized. By making certain every contract one signs is clear in what is expected of each individual or company, a business owner guarantees any litigation later on is easily settled. The best way to avoid using language that may be open to interpretation is to enlist the services of a Miami contract attorney who will properly draft the terms of any agreement. Ideally, every question that could potentially arise should have an answer laid out in the contract itself.

Create a Paper Trail

Once the specifications of the agreement are laid out, it is of course important that both parties fulfill their obligations. Should the other party fail to do so, a business owner will improve his or her chances of winning a dispute with a paper trail demonstrating the unfulfilled obligation(s). Parties should always discuss amendments to an agreement or concerns with the other party’s performance via written communication, with any changes signed off on by both individuals.

Enlist a Qualified Attorney

In a perfect world, contract disputes would all be resolved before escalating to a formal civil suit. Of course, that is not the case; thus, recruiting an experienced Miami contract attorney to handle the dispute is critical to securing a favorable outcome. One’s lawyer can best advise him/her on how to proceed, and ensure all bases are covered to win in court.

If you are currently dealing with a dispute over a contract agreement, our team is here to guide you through it. Call us today to get started.

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Can I Be Sued for Old Debts?

Can I Be Sued for Old Debts?

The timeline in which a creditor can file suit over unpaid debts is not infinite. The statute of limitations outlines the period for which a debt is eligible to be filed suit for. The interval that must pass before an account is time-barred is ultimately dependent on the type of account and where it was opened.

Types of Debts

When lent by a creditor, unpaid funds will fall into one of two categories: open end or closed end. As a rule of thumb, accounts which can be utilized multiple times (such as a credit card) are considered open-end. If money is lent for a one-time purchase (mortgage on a home) for which the payments are fixed, the account falls into the closed-end category. However, not all loans are quite as clear cut. Sometimes, a loan will fall into a gray area. For instance, if a loan is disbursed in fixed amounts but on more than one occasion. A Miami civil trial attorney can help debtors and creditors alike in determining exactly what kind of debt they are dealing with.

After determining which category the debt falls under, the borrower will have to consider what kind of agreement was made for the repayment of the debt. This will factor into how long the creditor has to initiate legal actions in order to be repaid. The statute of limitations placed on different types of debts varies from state to state. Here is an overview of the time frame used by the state of Florida:

  • Closed-end with written contract: 5 years
  • Closed-end with oral contract: 4 years
  • Closed-end with promissory note: 5 years
  • Open-end: 4 years

The time limit starts on the day the agreement is made for closed-end accounts, and at the time first payment is due for open-end accounts. Nevertheless, it is important to keep in mind the fact that time is not kept when payments are voluntarily made or when the debtor is not in the state. Therefore, if a borrower defaults on his mortgage and moves to a different state, the statute of limitations does not apply. Also important to note, an oral agreement can restart the clock.

The complex nature of debt collection suits calls for a highly experienced Miami civil trial attorney. If you have questions about this area of law, please reach out to our team for a free consultation.