Family Law Section Monthly Newsletter
Chair's Message

Happy August!  I am very excited about our 9th Leadership Retreat, August 7-9, at the Casa Monica Hotel in Saint Augustine, held in conjunction with Section Committee Meetings (Sunday August 7), and the Executive Council Meeting (Tuesday, August 9).   I am looking forward to the wonderful activities and team building that Ms. Andrea Reid, an Executive Council member and the Chair of the Retreat, has planned for us.  Bring your families, too - for a last hurrah of the Summer, St. Augustine can't be beat!
I know that the change in the Fall meeting dates from October to August has made it difficult for some of us, and I am sincerely sorry for any inconvenience that may have been caused by the change.  It is sometimes necessary to make this kind of difficult and unpopular decision, but I will neither shirk the responsibility I have taken on as the Chair of our fine Section to make this kind of hard choice, nor will I avoid taking responsibility for the inconvenience that may have been caused. 
I encourage each and every one of you to attend the retreat and the meetings.  Even if you are not an active member of a committee, you are welcome to attend all of the meetings, join any number of committees, and be the change you want to see in the Section!

I also encourage you to attend the Out of State Retreat in Seattle, September 7-11, at the Fairmont Olympic Hotel.  Executive Council member Douglas Greenbaum has put together a fabulous itinerary which includes cocktails at the Space Needle, a tour of Pike's Market, a CLE on the Hague Convention, and more.  And, for all of you Dol-Fans, the season's opening game is on the final day of the retreat, and it's against the Seahawks, in Seattle! 
Have a wonderful August!

Laura Davis Smith, Esquire
Chair, Family Law Section of the Florida Bar
Upcoming Events

August 7 - 9Leadership Retreat - St. Augustine, FL

Sept. 7 - 11Out of State Retreat - Seattle, WA

Jan. 26 Committee Meetings - Orlando, FL

Judicial Update

Miami-Dade to launch new Juvenile division for victims of Human Trafficking

Miami-Dade Circuit Court is launching the first specialized court in the nation for children who have been victims of human trafficking, the circuit announced July 7th. The court will be part of the circuit's juvenile dependency division and will provide "comprehensive services and support" to child victims and their families, according to the announcement. It will be called GRACE Court, for Growth Renewed through Acceptance, Change and Empowerment, to take away the stigma of the term "human trafficking."
Upcoming CLE
Registration Info Coming Soon!

September 28 :   How Not to Get Yourself in Trouble 
Practicing Family Law

October 19: Five Myths of Collaborative Law

November 10: Case Law Update

November 16Mechanics of Board Certification

January 29 - 30:  Board Certification Review

Family Law Section's "Make A Difference" Award Nominations

Section Chair, Laura Davis Smith, is continuing the tradition of the "Making a Difference" Public Recognition Program . This program reaffirms the Section's commitment to recognize the work of its members who "make a difference" by providing outstanding pro bono services or by engaging in other types of outstanding volunteer community activities/pursuits that improve the lives of Florida's children and families; and to encourage other Section members to undertake new or continuing pro bono/volunteer services/activities. The Program was originally foundered by Former Chair Magistrate Diane Kirigin to identify, select and publicly acknowledge the efforts of The Florida Bar, Family Law Section members (including Affiliates)  who "make a difference"  in the lives of  the underserved and/or disadvantaged in our State.  It is through this effort the Section hopes to also make its own difference in combating the negative public perception of marital and family law attorneys and those professional and paraprofessionals who provide forensic and/or support services to us that seems to plague its members as a whole.   
The Committee will select the Section "Member" and "Affiliate Member" of the month.  Those selected will be honored in feature articles in FAMSEG, accompanied by press releases, and will receive recognition plaques memorializing their service/activities.  These selected nominees will be finalists in what will culminate in the designation of one of the honorees from each category as the Section "Member" and "Affiliate Member" of the Year, to be honored at the Section's Annual Luncheon in June.        
We need your help in identifying worthy nominees.  You may already have personal knowledge of friends or colleagues who are deserving of this recognition, or have personal connections at organizations like Statewide legal service and legal aid organizations, voluntary bar associations, judicial Circuits, charitable, social service and humanitarian organizations, minority, children and senior citizen groups, and government social service agencies.   You can either make your own nominations or facilitate a nomination by another entity; whatever the case, please pass on the attached application.
  • If the Nominee is an attorney/judicial officer, he or she must be a member of The Florida Bar, in good standing.
  • Be a member of The Family Law Section.
  • May be an employee or member of an organization providing free or low cost legal services to the disadvantaged or underserved; however, the pro bono services or volunteer activities for which the person is nominated cannot arise from a work related service or activity for which the Nominee is paid {i.e. as part/scope of his or her normal, everyday workload}.
  • The Nominee's overall or cumulative pro bono and/or volunteer service/activities record may be considered.  Consideration of the service/activities of the nominee is not limited to the 2015-2016 Bar year, but must include some service/activities during this period.
  • The pro bono and/or volunteer service/activities must be verifiable by the Committee.
Please assist us by sending in your nominations today.   Click HERE for the NOMINATION APPLICATION.    If you have any additional questions, please feel free to contact CJ Bosco at (407) 756-3347 or .  Instructions for submission are on the application.
Eddie Stephens 2013
Stephens' Squibs

Click here for June Squibs.   Squib of the month:  

Cilenti v. Cilenti , 41 Fla.L.Weekly D1277 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2016).  Trial court erred determining child support because health insurance premium for child exceeded 5% of wife's gross income and court made no findings explaining deviation.  Section 61.13(1)(b) provides every child support order shall contain a provision for health insurance for minor child when insurance is reasonable and accessible.  The statute presumes the cost of health insurance is reasonable when it does not exceed 5% of the gross income of the parent providing coverage.
The One Thing Everyone Needs to by Happy...

The Harvard Grant Study, followed 268 Harvard students for 75 years, collecting data on their lives. What is impressive is that the conclusions about happiness were the same for all participants.

The answer to happiness seems simple, but it's scientifically true: healthy relationships are the key to a happy and fulfilling life.

The study's most important finding is that the only thing that matters in life is relationships, said the principal researcher, George Vaillant. A man could have a successful career, money and good physical health, but without supportive, loving relationships, he wouldn't be happy ("Happiness is only the cart; love is the horse.").

The good news is, we can always change the quality of our relationships and our life. The study showed that regardless of how we begin life, we can all become happier. Whether you have faced a difficult childhood, divorce or death, you always have the choice to make your situation better and begin building strong loving relationships in life - whether with family, close friends or a significant other.

Whether single, divorced or widowed, what mattered most was not a person's relationship status, career success or wealth but rather the quality and warmth of a person's relationships, regardless of the type or status of those relationships.

A man named Godfrey Minot Camille went into the Grant study with fairly bleak prospects for life satisfaction: He had the lowest rating for future stability of all the subjects and he had previously attempted suicide. But at the end of his life, he was one of the happiest. Why? As Vaillant explains, "He spent his life searching for love."

Vaillant's key takeaway, in his own words: "The seventy-five years and twenty million dollars expended on the Grant Study points ... to a straightforward five-word conclusion: 'Happiness is love. Full stop.' "

What can we learn from the world's longest study on happiness? Strong, loving relationships are the answer to happiness. And it's never too late to find happiness.

EC Spotlight - Jack Moring

We asked EC Member Jack Moring the following questions and this is what he has to say:
What is your favorite quote?   "I grew up in a tough neighborhood. We used to say, 'you can get farther with a kind word and a gun than you can with just a kind word.'" - Mamet, David, writer, The Untouchables. Perf. Robert DeNiro. 1987. Paramount.
What is something we did not know about you?   In my younger years, I moonlighted as a film critic for my local newspaper.
Favorite book and why?   Collected Works of Emily Dickinson. It contains my favorite poem, "At Least to Pray is Left, is Left."       
Favorite TV show and why?   Currently, "The Night Of" (HBO): I love a great crime drama.
Favorite Movie and why?   Anything by Joel and Ethan Coen - They produce consistently excellent work, no matter the genre.

Favorite superhero?   The Dark Knight (Batman), particularly Frank Miller's version.

Best place you have traveled to?   Bermuda
Why you practice family law?  I was a general practitioner in the first ten to fifteen years of my practice. As time passed, however, I found myself enjoying family practice better than other areas of the law. Finally, I made a decision to devote my practice solely to family, unsure at the time if I would be able to do it since I practice in a relatively rural area.  Thankfully, it has worked out well.

Proudest accomplishment within the section?   Not an accomplishment, but just getting to know and work with the many knowledgeable family law experts throughout the state is one of the many benefits one can gain from actively participating in the Section.

Favorite Family Law Case?  I  love the summaries of the divorce cases handled by Abraham Lincoln, which can be found at Here is a summary of one such case, Cowls v. Cowls:
"Ann Cowls obtained a divorce from her husband, Thomas Cowls, but the court made no provisions for the two children, who remained with their father.  Later, Ann Cowls sued Thomas Cowls to gain custody of the children and to obtain an increase in alimony for the children's maintenance.  Ann Cowls claimed that Thomas Cowls was living with a prostitute, whom he married two weeks before the custody suit began, that he fought with his new wife and swore in front of the children, and that he was habitually intoxicated.  The court granted Ann Cowls custody of the children, and maintenance of $60 per year for five years.  Thomas Cowls retained Lincoln and appealed to the Illinois Supreme Court, which affirmed the decree.  Thomas Cowls argued that the circuit court refused to allow him to take depositions, but the supreme court ruled that the lower court had allowed him to present any evidence and that the case did not warrant a continuance for depositions after the court had sufficient evidence for a ruling.  The supreme court confirmed that a chancery court had an ancient right to interfere and control the estates, persons, and custody of all minors.  The court also implemented the "best-interest-of-the-child" doctrine, which recognized that it was the special duty of a republican government to oversee the care and education of children so that they might become useful citizens.  Lincoln and Herndon received $20 for their legal services."
Call for Articles

The Family Law Section WANTS YOU to write for one of its three publications: The Florida Bar Journal, The Family Law Commentator, and/or FAMSEG.

The Journal: To be considered for publication in The Florida Bar Journal, the a rticle should be scholarly and relate in some manner to family law. It should be twelve to fifteen pages in length, complete with end notes. For more information contact C. Debra Welch or Belinda Lazzara.

The Commentator: The Family Law Sections Glossy Quarterly magazine. Art icles could range from substantive articles to advice about lifestyle and wellness. For more information contact Tenesia Hall or Heather Apicella.

FAMSEG: Got an announcement? Pictures of a section event? Something light and fluffy? FAMSEG is your place! You might have noticed something different in this edition of FAMSEG. So if you have any of the above, or suggestions to improve the look and feel of FAMSEG, contact Eddie Stephens.


Advertise in FAMSEG!
For information: Contact Gabrielle Tollok at