Board Certified in Marital and Family Law

Florida Bar Board of Legal Specialization and EducationUnder Rule 6-6.1, a lawyer who is a member in good standing of The Florida Bar and who meets the standards prescribed below may be issued an appropriate certificate identifying the lawyer as "Board Certified in Marital and Family Law."

The purpose of the standards is to identify those lawyers who practice marital and family law and have the special knowledge, skills, and proficiency, as well as the character, ethics, and reputation for professionalism to be properly identified to the public as board certified marital and family lawyers. The standards also contain provisions to allow judicial officers who regularly preside over marital and family law cases to achieve board certification in marital and family law.

Find a Lawyer in Florida board certified in Marital and Family Law.


Definitions for Certification in Marital and Family Law

The rules for specialty certification in Florida can be found in Rule 6-6.2 which provides:

(a) Marital and Family Law.


"Marital and family law" is the practice of law dealing with legal problems arising from the family relationship of husband and wife and parent and child, including civil controversies arising from those relationships. In addition to actual pretrial and trial process, "marital and family law" includes evaluating, handling, and resolving such controversies prior to and during the institution of suit and postjudgment proceedings. The practice of marital and family law in the state of Florida is generally unique in that decisional, statutory, and procedural laws are specific to this state.


(b) Practice of Law.


The "practice of law" for this area is defined as set out in rule 6-3.5(c)(1).


(c) Judicial Officers.


"Judicial officers" shall include judges, general magistrates, special magistrates, child support hearing officers, and private triers of fact appointed by court order.


(d) Trial.


A "trial" is defined as a matter submitted to and decided by the trier of fact for ultimate resolution by the court's rendition of a judgment or order on at least 1 issue aside from the dissolution of the parties' marriage.

Further, the applicant must have, incident thereto, presided over as a judicial officer, or conducted as an advocate, at least 1 direct and 1 cross examination of at least 2 different witnesses, with the introduction into evidence of at least 1 exhibit.

The applicant must have been responsible for all, or a majority of, the presentation of evidence and/or representation of the client if the matter was handled as an advocate.

Minimum Standards for Board Certification in Family and Marital Law

In Rule 6-6.3, the rules for the minimum standards for specialty certification in marital law and family law can include:

(a) Minimum Period of Practice.


The applicant must have at least 5 years of the actual practice of law immediately preceding application, of which at least 50 percent has been spent in active participation in marital and family law.


(b) Minimum Number of Cases.



The applicant must demonstrate in the application trial experience and substantial involvement as set forth in subdivisions (1) and (2) below, in a minimum of 25 contested marital and family law cases in circuit courts during the 5-year period immediately preceding the date of application.

All such cases must have involved substantial legal or factual issues other than the dissolution of marriage. In each of these 25 cases the applicant shall have been responsible for all or a majority of the presentation of evidence and representation of the client.

(1) At least 7 of the 25 cases must have been trials as defined in rule 6-6.2(d). An advanced trial advocacy seminar approved by the marital and family law certification committee, completed either by teaching, attendance, or a combination thereof, shall qualify as 1 of the 7 trials.

(2) The applicant shall have substantial involvement, as defined in rule 6-6.2(e), in at least 18 contested marital and family law cases sufficient to demonstrate special competence as a marital and family lawyer. Any trials in excess of the 7 trials meeting the criteria of subdivision (b)(1) of this rule shall automatically qualify as substantial involvement cases.

(3) The determination of whether the applicant has sufficiently demonstrated substantial involvement in each case submitted shall be made on a qualitative basis by the marital and family law certification committee using the information provided by the applicant. The marital and family law certification committee reserves the right to seek additional information from the applicant as it deems necessary to make its determination that the minimum number of cases requirement has been met.

(c) Peer Review.


(1) The applicant shall submit names and addresses of 6 lawyers, who are neither current nor former associates or partners of the applicant within the 5-year period immediately preceding the date of application, as references to attest to the applicant's substantial competence and active involvement in the practice of marital and family law as well as the applicant's character, ethics, and reputation for professionalism.

At least 3 of the lawyers shall be members of The Florida Bar, with their principal office located in the state of Florida. Such lawyers need not be Florida Bar board certified in marital and family law, however, they should be substantially involved in marital and family law and familiar with the applicant's practice. In addition, all lawyer references must have participated with the applicant, during the 5-year period immediately preceding the date of application, as either opposing or co-counsel in a marital and family law or juvenile dependency proceeding, involving some combination of discovery beyond mandatory disclosure, settlement negotiations, evidentiary hearings in excess of 3 hours, trials, and/or alternative dispute resolution mechanism such as collaborative law, mediation or arbitration.

This requirement is to ensure meaningful comment on the applicant's most recent special knowledge, skills, proficiency, character, and reputation for professionalism in the practice of marital and family law, including the consideration of the needs of children and the family unit affected by the applicant's representation.

(2) The applicant shall select and submit the names and addresses of 3 judicial officers who have presided in circuit courts in the state of Florida and before whom the applicant has appeared as an advocate in a trial or an evidentiary hearing of at least 3 hours in length for a marital and family law and/or juvenile dependency case during the 5-year period immediately preceding the date of application.

(3) The marital and family law certification committee may, at its option, send reference forms to other attorneys and judicial officers, and make such other investigation as necessary to ensure that the applicant's special knowledge, skills, proficiency, character, and reputation for professionalism in the practice of marital and family law, including the consideration of the needs of children and the family, are befitting board certification in marital and family law.


(d) Education.


The applicant must demonstrate completion of at least 75 credit hours of approved continuing legal education in the field of marital and family law during the 5-year period immediately preceding the date of application. At least 5 of the 75 credit hours must be in ethics, dispute resolution, collaborative law and/or mental health continuing legal education. Accreditation of educational hours is subject to policies established by the marital and family law certification committee or the board of legal specialization and education and may include such activity as:

(1) teaching a course in marital and family law;

(2) completion of a course in marital and family law;

(3) participation as a panelist or speaker in a symposium or similar program in marital and family law;

(4) attendance at a lecture series or similar program concerning marital and family law, sponsored by a qualified educational institution or bar group;
(5) authorship of a book or article on marital and family law, published in a professional publication or journal; and

(6) such other educational experience as the marital and family law certification committee or the board of legal specialization and education shall approve.

(e) Examination.

The applicant must pass an examination applied uniformly to all applicants, to demonstrate sufficient knowledge, proficiency, experience, and professionalism in marital and family law to justify the representation of special competence to the legal profession and the public.

Recertification in Family and Marital Law

The rules for recertification in family and marital law can be found in Rule 6-6.5. During the 5-year period immediately preceding the date of application, the applicant must demonstrate satisfaction of the following requirements for recertification:

(a) Minimum Period of Practice and/or Judicial Service. 


The applicant must have devoted at least 30 percent of the applicant's practice or judicial labor to marital and family law cases.


(b) Minimum Number of Cases.


The applicant must demonstrate in the application trial experience and substantial involvement by handling as an advocate, or presiding over as a judicial officer, a minimum of 15 contested marital and family law cases in circuit courts.

(1) At least 5 of the 15 cases must have been trials as defined in rule 6-6.2(d). The skill set inherent in presiding over a marital and family law case as a judicial officer encompasses all of the special knowledge, skills, and proficiency, as well as ethics, that the marital and family law certification committee finds sufficient to meet the trial requirements for recertification. An advanced trial advocacy seminar approved by the marital and family law certification committee, completed either by teaching, attendance, or a combination thereof, shall qualify as one of the 5 trials.

(2) The applicant shall have substantial involvement, as defined in rule 6-6.2(e), in at least 10 contested marital and family law cases sufficient to demonstrate special competence as a marital and family lawyer or as a judicial officer presiding over marital and family law cases. Any trials in excess of the 5 trials meeting the criteria of subdivision (a)(1) shall automatically qualify as substantial involvement cases. The skill set inherent in presiding over a marital and family law case as a judicial officer encompasses all of the special knowledge, skills, and proficiency, as well as ethics, that the marital and family law certification committee finds sufficient to meet the substantial involvement requirements for recertification.

(3) The determination of whether the applicant has sufficiently demonstrated involvement in each case submitted shall be made on a qualitative basis by the marital and family law certification committee using the information provided by the applicant. The marital and family law certification committee reserves the right to seek additional information from the applicant as it deems necessary to make its determination that the minimum number of cases requirement has been met.

(4) On special application, for good cause shown, the marital and family law certification committee may waive compliance with rule 6-6.5(b)(1) and/or (2) for an applicant who has been continuously certified in marital and family law lawyer for a period of 14 years or more or who has demonstrated in the application an extraordinary contribution, as determined by the marital and family law certification committee after review, inquiry, and consideration thereof, to the field of marital and family law in Florida. The applicant shall be required to complete all sections of the application for recertification with the exception of schedule B-1.


(c) Education.


The applicant must have completed at least 75 hours of approved continuing legal education in accordance with rule 6-6.3(d).


(d) Peer Review.


The applicant must submit references and otherwise comply with rule 6-6.3(c) or 6-6.4(c). Judicial peer review is not required for judicial officers seeking recertification.


(e) Substantial Involvement.


"Substantial involvement" is defined as active participation in client interviewing, counseling, investigating, preparation of pleadings, participation in discovery beyond mandatory disclosure, taking of testimony, presentation of evidence, attendance at hearings, negotiations of settlement, attendance at mediation, drafting and preparation of marital settlement agreements, and argument and trial of marital and family law cases. Substantial involvement also includes active participation in the appeal of marital and family law cases.