The Collaborative Divorce process is a way to address the issues arising out of a divorce proceeding without the traditional litigation model.  The Collaborative Process uses a team approach to help the parties reach a settlement agreement without the need to go to court.  The team consists of each party’s attorneys, a neutral financial advisor, and a mental health provider if needed.

In the traditional divorce litigation, much time is spent in financial discovery trying to determine the parties’ finances.  Working with a neutral financial advisor, as a team, helps the parties reach a prompt settlement agreement.

Likewise, when there are significant custody disputes, working with a neutral mental health provider as a team helps the parties reach a settlement agreement that is in their children’s best interest.


The Collaborative divorce process is voluntary and both parties must enter into a participation agreement agreeing to participate in settlement discussions with the help of the neutral third parties.

In the event that the parties are unable to reach a settlement agreement, the collaborative divorce counsel will withdraw from the case allowing the parties to retain counsel to proceed with the litigation.

In summary, the Collaborative Divorce Process will reduce the hard feelings between the parties, which will help reduce the process time and will help reduce the attorney’s fees and costs.

For further information contact our office for a free initial consultation.

Step Parent Adoption - Miami

Step Parent Adoption

Often the parent of a minor child remarries and is considering whether the step parent can legally adopt the child.

In Florida a step parent adoption is available provided the Child’s biological parent executes a proper Consent to the child’s adoption and a clear waiver of the parental rights over the child. For the Consent to be valid it must meet the statutory requirements, must be willingly signed, and must not be revoked within the statutory period. Once these requirements are met the consent is valid and the Step Parent adoption can proceed.

Since the biological parent has consented to the adoption and has waived his parental rights over the child there is no need for a hearing on the termination of parental rights and only the hearing on the adoption is required. Moreover, step parent adoption does not require a home study, significantly reducing the length of the process.

The step parent will need to appear in court to present evidence of the relationship with the child, the ability to continue to support the child and the understanding that the adoption process is irrevocable.

It is important to remember that if the child is older than (12) years of age the child must consent to the adoption.

Our office has represented numerous step parent adoptions in Florida and will be able to answer any questions you may have about the adoption process.

Maria T. Sallato

Board Certified Attorney in Family Law



From all the different legal processes that a Family Law Attorney handles there is nothing more rewarding than adoptions, especially step parent adoptions.  Generally, it is a happy, especial day of unifying a family. However, adoption attorneys must be knowledgeable when it comes to the adoption of a child from a foreign country.

According to the USCIS policy for Determining Habitual Residence in the U.S. for Children from Hague Convention Countries the country where the child is considered to be habitually resident will determine what adoption process the adoptive parent must go through.  If a child lives in the U.S. but is considered to be habitually resident of their country of citizenship, adoptive parents must generally go through the Hague process in order to adopt and obtain U.S. immigration status for their child. If the child is considered to be habitually resident in the U.S., the adoptive parents do not need to go through the Hague process and may file a Form I-130 for the child.

In order to establish that the child is a habitual resident of the U.S. three criteria must be met:  (1) At the time the child entered the United States, the purpose of the entry were for reasons other than adoption; (2) Prior to the U.S. adoption, the child actually resided in the United Sates for a substantial period of time, establishing compelling ties in the United Sates; and (3) The Central Authority of the country of citizenship was notified of the adoption proceedings and the Central Authority did not object to the proceeding.

4 Year long Divorce Trial

Just closed a 4 year long divorce including two trials and two appeals. After a three day trial, the trial court awarded my client, the Wife, an unequal distribution of the marital estate in the form of the Husband’s share of the marital home. The trial court also made a finding that her use of the Husbands 401 K funds was not a dissipation of assets. On appeal the appeals court affirmed. Not happy with the result, the Husband filed essentially the same claim for dissipation of assets in civil court alleging breach of fiduciary duty. After a hearing, the Civil Court dismissed his claim under principles of res judicata. Again the Husband appealed the dismissal. Today we received the Mandate affirming the civil court.

Maria Sallato Wins Child Abduction Case

As a result of a three-day trial in front of the Honorable Judge Federico Moreno, of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida, Attorney Maria T. Sallato, board certified in Family Law, successfully obtained the return of a three year old child to Canada, under the terms of the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Abduction. Final judgment was entered on August 31, 2017, Case No. 17-cv-20745-FAM.

( Florida bar – The International Law Gazette – 09-18-2017)




            When a parent removes a child from one state to another state within the Unites States, the left-behind parent may file a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus for the immediate return of the child.

In order for a Florida court to grant the writ for the immediate return of the child, the Court must find that the removal of the child from his/her home state was “wrongful”. The removal of a child is wrongful if it is in violation of an agreement of the parties or a custody order entered in the state of residence. The “custody order”must have been entered in substantial compliance with the due process rights of “notice and opportunity to be heard”.

If your child has been removed from his/her home state and has been brought to Florida without your permission or an order of the court contact Sallato & Associates, PA. We have the experience to know when it will be proper to file the Writ of Habeas Corpus and how to successfully present it to the Florida court.



 When a child is kidnapped/removed from another country and is brought to the United States, the left-behind parent may petition the US Court for the return of the child to the child’s country of residency.

The stay-behind parent can file a petition for the return of his/her child under the terms of the Hague Convention. The petitioner must prove that the child was wrongfully removed from his habitual place of residence. A child is wrongfully removed when the left-behind parent is able to prove that at the time of the removal he had “rights of custody” and that they were being exercised at the time of the removal.

The “rights of custody” required under the convention for the return of the child may arise out of an agreement of the parents, a court order or by operation of law. It is important to note that on many occasions a child is removed from his/her country when there has not been a previous court order deciding custody of the child. However, even in the absence of a court order granting custody rights, a parent derives custody rights by operation of law emanating from either the constitution or legislation such as the concept of patria potestas. These rights of custody are to be found in the legislation of the country of habitual residence.

An attorney experienced in the return of children under the Hague Convention should be consulted as a successful petition requires the knowledge of the US and foreign law and must be able to educate the presiding judge on both. We at Sallato & Associates, P.A. have successfully represented left behind parents from Australia, England, Colombia, Ecuador, and Brazil.



Under Florida Statute 61.13001, the parent with majority time sharing with the minor children can petition the Court to allow the relocation of the parent and the children to another place or country. The parent who petitions for the relocation must prove to the Court that the move is in the best interests of the children or the relocating party. The Petitioning parent should adequately prepare in order to present to the court proof of better conditions at the new locations, for example: an offer of a better job, better housing, better school district, better extracurricular activities, better health care, etc. The petition for the relocation of children from their place of residence to, sometimes, another country, requires extremely well prepared and thought out preparation in order to improve the likelihood of obtaining the relocation. We, at Sallato & Associates, P.A., have secured the relocation of children as young as three years old from Florida to Chile and from Florida to Venezuela. In the event the Court approves the relocation, the Court will design a substitute visitation plan with the non-relocating parent that will allow the children to continue to enjoy both parents, even if geographically separated.

Welcome to the blog of Maria Teresa Sallato

During the last twenty-three, Maria Teresa Sallato, has dedicated her practice to complex family law cases and international child abductions cases under the Hague Convention.

Of particular importance to her practice is her ability to negotiate a settlement in order to minimize litigation costs as an experienced Florida Supreme Court certified family mediator.


El tratado de la Haya

El Tratado de la Haya para el retorno de los Niños sustraídos de Colombia ha Sido FIRMADO por 62 countries, incluido Colombia, Con El Propósito de Prevenir el problema mundial de robo internacional de Niños.

El Tratado se aplic en aquellas Situaciones en que unNiño es sustraído de Colombia sin el Consentimiento de UNO de los Dos Padres. Un Caso típico Para La Aplicación del TRATADO ES CUANDO Los Padres de Menor, los cuales pueden estan teniendo Problemas de custodia, el padre o la Madre deciden llevarse al Menor a Vivir un pecado los estados unidos el Consentimiento del otro. Bajo el Tratado de la Haya el servicio debe Menor regresado a Colombia, para permitir que las cortes de familia de Colombia determinen los Mejores Intereses del Niño. Read more