elizabeth f. schwartz, esq. - principal



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Elizabeth in the press



Elizabeth Schwartz has been practicing law since 1997 and is a nationally recognized advocate for the legal rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. She is the author of the book Before I Do: A Legal Guide to Marriage, Gay and Otherwise (The New Press, 2016). While her firm equally works with straight and gay clients in matters of family law, estate planning and probate, she has been at the forefront of providing crucial legal protections for LGBT families. She lectures locally, nationally and internationally about critical topics including the impact of nationwide marriage equality and the continued importance of LGBT couples protecting their loved ones through estate planning, stepparent and second parent adoption. She focuses her practice in family formation (adoption, insemination, and surrogacy) and dissolution, and handled the first divorce for a same-sex couple in Florida.

Elizabeth is board certified by the Florida Bar in Adoption Law, is a fellow of the Academy of Adoption and Assisted Reproduction Attorneys and the Florida Adoption Council, and serves as an adoption intermediary helping make forever families of all kinds. Elizabeth has handled surrogacy for almost 20 years, assisting intended parents, gestational carriers and egg and sperm donors with their legal needs. She is the author of "LGBT Issues in Surrogacy" in the Handbook of Gestational Surrogacy, ed. E. Scott Sills (Cambridge University Press, 2016).

Elizabeth served as counsel on the victorious cases challenging Florida's marriage ban brought by the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) on behalf of six same-sex couples and members of the Equality Florida Institute seeking the right to marry (Pareto v. Ruvin) and suing Florida for fair issuance of birth certificates to same-sex married couples (Chin). She also served as counsel in several cases that helped overturn Florida's bigoted 1977 ban forbidding gays and lesbians from adopting children.

Also a certified family mediator and a member of the Collaborative Family Law Institute, she treats the law as a therapeutic profession, facilitating relationship dissolution with minimal investment of emotional and financial resources. A Miami Beach native, Elizabeth received her Bachelor of Arts from the University of Pennsylvania in 1993 and her Juris Doctor, cum laude, from the University of Miami in 1997.

Elizabeth serves as co-chair of the national board of Sage Advocacy & Services for LGBT Elders. She is a member of the National Family Law Advisory Council of NCLR as well as its National Leadership Council, and a member of the Board of Trustees of the Greater Miami Jewish Federation. Elizabeth sits on the GLBT Projects Fund of the Miami Foundation. She is a founder of the Aqua Foundation for Women.

For her years of service, she received the 2017 Stanley C. Myers Presidents' Leadership Award from the Greater Miami Jewish Federation, the 2016 Anti-Defamation League's Jurisprudence Award, and the ACLU of Florida’s 2015 C. Clyde Atkins Award. In 2014, the University of Miami School of Law Center for Ethics and Public Service recognized Elizabeth with its Lawyers in Leadership award. She received the National LGBTQ Task Force's 2012 Eddy McIntyre Community Service Award. Also in 2012, Elizabeth was tapped for membership into Iron Arrow, the highest honor attained at the University of Miami. Equality Florida, the statewide LGBT rights group, honored Elizabeth in 2011 with its Voice for Equality Award. In 2010, Elizabeth was named by the National LGBT Bar Association as one of the country's Best LGBT Lawyers Under 40, and also received the Women Worth Knowing Award from the City of Miami Beach Commission for Women. In 2008 she was honored with the "Valuing Our Families" Community Award, presented by Sunserve. In 2007, she received the Dade County Bar Association's Sookie Williams Award and the Aqua Foundation for Women Leadership Award. And in 2005, she received the Miami-Dade Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce Community Award.

A lefty and a Scorpio, Elizabeth lives with her wife, writer Lydia Martin, and their rescued Havanese, Gracie Kenisha de la Caridad, in Miami's urban core.


selected publications:


selected affiliations:

Academy of Adoption and Assisted Reproduction Attorneys

Family Law Institute


selected recognitions:

  • 2017 Stanley C. Myers Presidents’ Leadership Award presented by the Greater Miami Jewish Federation
  • 2016 Anti-Defamation League Miami Jurisprudence Award
  • 2015 C. Clyde Atkins Lifetime Achievement Award presented by the ACLU of Florida Greater Miami Chapter
  • 2014 University of Miami School of Law Center for Ethics and Public Service Lawyers in Leadership Award
  • 2012 Eddy McIntyre Community Service Award presented by the Task Force at the 2012 Miami Recognition Dinner
  • 2011 Voice for Equality Award presented by Equality Florida
  • 2010 City of Miami Beach Woman Worth Knowing
  • 2008 Community Award presented by Sunserve at Valuing Our Families Conference
  • 2007 Leadership Award presented by the Aqua Foundation for Women
  • 2007 Sookie Williams Award for exemplary service to the Miami-Dade Legal Community, presented by The Daily Business Review
  • 2005 Community Award presented by the Miami-Dade Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce


selected presentations:

  • Florida Conference of Circuit Judges, LGBT Families, Jacksonville, August 10, 2016
  • American Association for Justice, Montreal Canada, July 11, 2015
  • Advanced Judicial Studies, LGBT Family Issues, Orlando, June 11-12, 2015
  • Intelligence Community LGBTA Summit, Chantilly, VA, May 5, 2015
  • Advanced Judicial Studies, LGBT Family Issues, Orlando, June 11 2014
  • Estate Planning Council of Greater Miami, Estate Planning Symposium, Advising Same-Sex Couples Post-Windsor, February 11, 2014
  • Florida State University School of Law, After Marriage Symposium, January 31, 2014
  • University of Miami School of Law, Marriage Equality course co-coordinator, fall 2013
  • Estate Planning Council, Washington, DC, September 25, 2013
  • National Academy Continuing Legal Ed., DOMA Decision Deciphered, June 27, 2013
  • The Associated, Baltimore, May 30, 2013
  • Dispute Resolution Center Mediator's Conference, Orlando, FL, August 24, 2012
  • National Public Radio: Interviewed for segment on Morning Edition, "Gay Divorce A Higher Hurdle Than Marriage", July 20, 2011
  • Ethics Film Series 2009: Panelist, The Times of Harvey Milk, April 2009
  • UDM Symposium on GLBT Legal Issues: Same-Sex Parenting, Detroit, MI, March 2009
  • Florida Lawyers' LIC’s Legally Speaking Television Series, June 2006
  • Annual Diversity Training Seminar, Miami-Dade Circuit and County Judges (2004-2007)
  • Valuing our Families conference, Sunserve and Family Pride Coalition (2004 – 2007)
  • Public Interest Law at University of Miami School of Law, annual speech, Prof. Mahoney
  • Annual presentation at Lavender Law (the annual conference of the National LGBT Bar Association), 2000-2010
  • Tulane Law School, New Orleans, Adoption Issues for LGBT Families, October 2002
  • Human Rights Campaign Town Hall Meeting, Birmingham, Alabama, Fall, 2002
  • New College, Sarasota, Legal Issues Impacting the Queer Community, 2001