Lara Embry (L.E.) and Kimberly Ryan (K.R.) are a female couple who had two children together in Washington. Each partner gave birth to one child, and each adopted her non-biological child through a second-parent adoption in Washington. The couple moved to Florida, and their relationship ended several years later. They entered into an agreement and successfully shared equal custody and visitation with both children until K.R. broke the agreement. Although the children had been raised together all of their lives, K.R. decided that she would raise her biological child by herself, and that L.E. would raise L.E.’s biological child. K.R. unilaterally cut off all contact with L.E. and has refused contact between the children.
NCLR and local family law attorney Leslie Talbot, of Leslie M. Talbot, P.A., represented L.E. in her custody case in the trial court, which refused to recognize L.E.’s adoption of her daughter. NCLR and pro bono attorneys from Carlton Fields are appealing the decision. The Florida Court of Appeals heard oral argument in March, 2009. On May 13, 2009 the Florida Court of Appeals unanimously reversed a lower court ruling and held that Florida must give full faith and credit to adoptions granted to same-sex couples by other states.
Counsel for amicus included Lambda Legal, the law firm of Shook, Hardy & Bacon, LLP, the law firm of Latham & Watkins, LLP, and Jon L. Mills of University of Florida Levin College of Law.