The Florida Bar Family Law Section Monthly Newsletter

As I write this, my last Chair's Message for FAMSEG, I realize it is the perfect time to take a look back at the 2016-2017 Bar year, to remind all of us what this section is all about, what we stand for, and what we have accomplished. I am very proud of The Family Law Section, and here, in part, is why.
Our section is philanthropic.
The very first act of the section under my leadership this year was to vote on a motion for and to approve a donation of $25,000 to the One Orlando Fund in the wake of the Pulse Nightclub shootings. 
The section also expanded its scholarship number to include an additional ten (10) for the judiciary, to increase the attendance of judges, general magistrates and hearing officers at the annual Marital and Family Law Review Course. The section contributed financially to the Florida Bar Foundation, the FLAFCC, and to the Kozyak Minority Mentoring Picnic. The section also voted to provide for telephonic attendance at section meetings for general magistrates and hearing officers in order to decrease the cost of attendance.
Our section is forward-thinking and inclusive.
Members of the Executive Committee traveled to Tallahassee for the 2016 Section Leadership Conference in July. As a result of that conference, two ad hoc committees were established: the Ad Hoc Constitutional Revision Committee chaired by Abigail Beebe, and the Ad Hoc Committee for Diversity and Inclusion chaired by Sheena Benjamin-Wise
Our section brings others along the journey.
Thereafter, Andrea Reid guided section members along the "Road to Leadership" in St. Augustine as part of the section's own biannual Leadership Retreat.  Past Chairs Carin Porras, Elisha Roy, Jorge Cestero, Diane Kirigin, and Maria Gonzalez shared their insight and path to section leadership, as did Nicole Goetz, Chair-Elect, Abigail Beebe, Treasurer, and Amy Hamlin, Secretary. The attendees participated in a team-building "Amazing Race'' type scavenger hunt through the winding streets of the historic city, and dined at the renowned Columbia Restaurant. The section's Fall meetings were held in St. Augustine in conjunction with the retreat, and were very well-attended. 
Our section is blessed with a symbiotic relationship with the AAML.
In September, members and guests of the section traveled to Seattle, Washington, for the 2016 annual out-of-state retreat, held jointly with the Florida Chapter of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML) and its President Natalie Lemos.  Organized by Douglas Greenbaum,  the section's Gabrielle (Gabby) Tollok, and the AAML's Susan Stafford, the Seattle trip was an absolute success:  The sun never stopped shining the entire time we Floridians were there, and everyone enjoyed the view of Seattle from atop the Space Needle, the guided tours of Pike's Market, the CLE on the Hague Convention and International Child Abduction, and the harbor tour with views of Mount Ranier. 
Our section provides superb, informative continuing legal education and news, which helps our members better serve Florida's families.
In January, Aimee Gross led the Marital and Family Law Review Course with record-breaking attendance, once again, at the Lowe's Royal Pacific Hotel at Universal Studios. The speaker roster was spectacular and two new presenters - Reuben Doupe and Ron Kauffman - were simply superb; they will surely be in the lineup again, soon.  It was at the Review Course that I presented Douglas Greenbaum with the 2017 Chair's Visionary Award for his years of dedication to the section.  Don't forget to calendar next year's course, again at the Lowe's Royal Pacific Hotel.
Under the leadership of Julia Wyda, the Publications Committee has sent to print the section's quarterly Commentator magazine and periodic Florida Bar Journal articles. Because of Eddie Stephens, this monthly email newsletter you are reading right now has hit the screens on the first business day of each and every month, without fail, providing the section's members with the most recent news and notes.

Our section works hard.
The section's mid-year meetings took place in conjunction with the Marital and Family Law Review Course. Each of the committees has worked diligently this year, and sincere gratitude goes out to all of them, which include the: Ad Hoc Access to Justice Committee chaired by Sarah Sullivan; Ad Hoc Bounds of Advocacy Committee chaired by Richard West and Melinda Gamot; Ad Hoc Bylaws Committee chaired by Douglas Greenbaum; Ad Hoc Constitution Revision Committee chaired by Abigail Beebe; Ad Hoc Diversity and Inclusion Committee chaired by Sheena Benjamin-Wise; Ad Hoc Mission Statement Committee chaired by Amy Hamlin; Ad Hoc Nomenclature Committee chaired by Douglas Greenbaum; Ad Hoc Parentage Committee chaired by John Foster and Patricia Alexander; Ad Hoc Probate Jurisdictional Committee chaired by Sheena Benjamin-Wise; Ad Hoc Public Relations chaired by Lori Caldwell-Carr and Patricia Elizee; ADR Committee, chaired by Ron Bornstein; Amicus Curiae Committee, chaired by Cynthia Greene; Children 's Issues Committee chaired by Sheena Benjamin Wise and Sonja Jean; Continuing Legal Education Committee chaired by Andrea Reid and David Hirschberg; Domestic Violence Committee chaired by Andrea Reid and Beth Luna; Equitable Distribution Committee chaired by Joe Hunt and Aimee Gross; Finance Committee chaired by Abigail Beebe; GM/HO Committee chaired by Doug Greenbaum and Ron Kauffman; Legislation Committee chaired by Philip Wartenberg and Bonnie Sockel-Stone; the committee formerly known as Litigation Support, chaired by Cash Eaton and Matt Lundy; Long Range Planning chaired by Nicole Goetz; Marital and Family Law Review Course chaired by Aimee Gross; Membership Committee chaired by Anthony Genova; Publications Committee chaired by J ulia Wyda; Rules and Forms Committee chaired by Sarah Kay and C. Debra Welch; Sponsorship Committee chaired by Matt Lundy and Beth Luna; Support Issues Committee chaired by Ron Bornstein and Michelle Klinger Smith; and the Technology Committee chaired by Sarah Kay and Eddie Stephens

Our section strives to protect the best interest of Florida's children.

In keeping with section tradition and practice, our lobbyists reviewed every bill presented to the 2017 legislature and, in turn, the Legislation Committee members monitored those bills that could possibly impact Florida 's families. The Legislation Committee's Co-Chairs Philip Wartenberg and Bonnie Sockel-Stone have done a tremendous job for the section this year.  As of the date of this message, they are leading the section's vigorous campaign to urge Governor Scott to veto SB 590,  the bill that would allow for the establishment of timesharing plans, absent a finding of best interest of the child, by administrative hearing officers in Department of Revenue child support matters.
Amy Hickman's expertise with the dependency system proved to be invaluable in our successful opposition to the Temporary Respite Care bill.
Our section members like to spend time with each other and our families, and we have a lot of fun doing so!
The last hurrah of the year prior to the Annual Meeting was the in-state retreat to Cheeca Lodge in Islamorada. Focusing on family - the reason we all work as hard as we do and for whom we work so very hard (Florida's families) - the retreat included an educational component on crafting parenting plans for children with emotional or educational needs . Bonnie Sockel-Stone and Sonja Jean arranged a spectacular three day relaxation remedy, complete with a snorkeling trip and a reception at the Keys home of our section liaison to the Board of Governors, Dori Foster-Morales. An incredibly well-received presentation on implicit bias was presented by The Honorable Scott Bernstein, Sonja Jean and Sheena Benjamin-Wise. Thanks to the generosity of the event sponsors Foster-Morales Sockel-Stone, LLP, (Dori and Bonnie), and segment sponsors Ronald Kauffman, Dr. Deborah Day, David Hirschberg, Matt Lundy, and Amy Hamlin, as well as Matt Lundy's creative sponsorship ideas, the cost of this retreat was greatly reduced for members' benefit.
Thank you for the incredible opportunity to lead this section.
Our section administrator, Gabby Tollok, is unparalleled in her enthusiasm and energy, and I am so very thankful to her for all of her support and good humor. I am also grateful to my two law partners, Cynthia Greene and Cynthia Greene, and our associate, Alicia de la O, for their support during this very demanding year.  My sincere gratitude goes to the section's incredible executive committee: Nicole Goetz, Abigail Beebe, Amy Hamlin, and Maria Gonzalez, all of whom were at the ready to fulfill their duties to our very well-served section.
I am most grateful to my family - my husband, Mark Smith, and my sons Connor and Brady Smith, who graciously and lovingly permitted me to take on the immense responsibility of being Chair of The Family Law Section.
I am blessed to have such a wonderful group of people supporting my efforts, and I pray that I have met your expectations.  To be the Chair of The Family Law Section of The Florida Bar has been my honor and my privilege, and one of the most incredible learning experiences of my life.  I am eternally grateful to all of you.
In closing, it is with the greatest confidence that I hand the gavel over to Nicole Goetz for 2017-2018, and I encourage you all to get to know her just a little better through her wonderful Executive Council Spotlight, below!

Laura Davis Smith, Esquire
Chair, Family Law Section


Time is of the essence to contact Gov. Rick Scott and insist that he veto Senate Bill 590 on "presumptive" timesharing. Please email or call (850) 488-7146 and urge Gov. Scott to veto   Senate Bill 590 . The section's talking points and example email text provide more detail.
  • June 21, 2017 - Section Committee Meetings. Info here. (There is no cost to attend Section Committee Meetings or the Executive Council Meeting.   Free breakfast, lunch and cocktail party to participants.)
  • June 22, 2017 - Executive Council Meeting. Info Here.
  • July 20 - 23, 2017 - Trial Advocacy Workshop. Info here.
  • September 6 - 10, 2017 - 2017 Out-of-State Retreat. Info here.
Looking for additional CLE credit?  
Click here for on-demand online CLE courses. 
FB Rule (4-1.19) and Family Law Rule (12.745). Download new rules here.
Nicole Goetz_ 2016-17 Chair-Elect  
Who is someone who inspires you? My paralegal, Lisa Singleton. She has dealt with some pretty serious setbacks, heartbreaks and hurdles in her life, the most recent of which was that her son, at the age of two, was diagnosed with leukemia and is undergoing treatment. Despite everything that she tackles in a day, she stays positive, is unbelievably kind to everyone, and she remains grateful. She is also one of the hardest-working people that I know. I go to work with her, and every day I am thankful for the opportunity; she demonstrates how truly wonderful people can be.

Why do you practice Family Law? As a family law attorney, I do feel that I have the ability to make a difference and to truly help people. In addition to working with individuals and families through often one of the most difficult times of their lives, working with the Family Law Section allows me to help at a more institutional level. This is a difficult practice area, and I believe that we all have an obligation to do what we can for the families that we serve - both in our practices and by improving family law as a whole.

What is something few people know about you? After being able to fly in helicopters, small airplanes and even a glider, I worked on getting my pilot's license at age 19 but stopped to focus on my college studies. I may pick it up again when I have the time. Of course, I'm just not sure when that will be.

Favorite quote? My dad is really funny. He had a saying that is a bit tongue in cheek, but absolutely true:  "If you are going to be dumb, you'd better be tough." It makes me laugh and it is one of the first things that pops into my head when I hear and or see some of the crazy things my clients do despite my advice or when I am contemplating what I know is a stupid move.
What benefits do you receive as a result of your section participation? My section participation has allowed me to stay on top of the latest legal developments and to work cooperatively with some truly great attorneys to improve the practice of family law. It has also allowed me to make friends with attorneys throughout the state who have a similar desire to give back and to contribute to the betterment of the practice.

2017 In-State Retreat

Special Thanks to Our Sponsors! 
Deborah Day, Psy.D, Amy Hamlin, David Hirschberg,
Ronald Kauffman and Matthew Lundy

The Retreat in Pictures

Incoming Family Law Section Officers

Laura Davis Smith, Immediate Past Chair
Nicole L. Goetz, Chair
Abigail Beebe, Chair-Elect
Amy Hamlin, Treasurer
Douglas Greenbaum, Secretary

Trisha Armstrong
Sheena A. Benjamin-Wise
Tenesia C. Hall
Sarah E. Kay
Matthew Lundy
Christopher Rumbold
Philip Schipani
Philip S. Wartenberg 
Law Day 5k

Lori Caldwell-Carr, Amy Hamlin and Rihana Purdin

2017 Out of State Retreat

Come join us at the C Lazy U Ranch in Granby, Colorado, from September 6 through 10, 2017 for the Section's Fall Retreat! C Lazy U was recently awarded the 3rd best resort in Colorado and the 9th best resort in the U.S. by Condé Nast Traveler Readers' Choice Awards, the third consecutive year the ranch has been ranked within the top 3 in Colorado and top 10 in the U.S. Fall is one of the most beautiful times of year because the ranch is nestled at the foot of the majestic Colorado Rocky Mountains. The leaves turn a vibrant gold, the air is crisp, and there is always plenty to do! In addition to the 8,500 acres, you can make arrangements for other fun activities in the area such as golfing, hot air ballooning, and white water rafting. Watch for more information about the retreat and please do not hesitate to contact the Co-Chairs of the event, Carin Porras  or Amy Hamlin with any questions.

Wade Silverman
by Wade Silverman PhD ABPP
Originally published by FLAFCC
With the trend in family court towards recognizing equal parent participation in child custody, both in this state and in the nation, it has made it more likely that there will be greater conflict in resolving co parenting issues. It is estimated that nearly 20 percent of custody cases involve high conflict couples. There is a pressing need to resolve or at least reduce these disputes in the best interest of children.

Parental conflict in itself is not a major problem for a child. Rather it is the exposure of the child or children to conflict. In an ideal world, parents work cooperatively to devise parenting plans that are best for their children. Unfortunately this is not an ideal world. In reality, we find three different styles of parenting post divorce: cooperative parenting, conflictive parenting, or disengaged parenting.

Parents who can cooperate don't usually seek the courts for intervention, at least on parental matters. It is the high conflict parents that involve the family court in their disputes. As l have previously pointed out, this activity will increase dramatically under the assumptions of 50/50 custody.

The two empirical findings we are most in agreement as mental health professionals are 1) children require the active participation of both parents in their lives and 2) exposure to parental conflict is one of the most toxic experiences to a child's psychological development.

How can we assure parental participation without exposing the child to conflict? Obviously we cannot guarantee the total absence of conflict, but we can reduce it by disengaging the parents. We do this by setting up an arrangement known as parallel parenting. We disengage the conflicting parents from each other by setting up a detailed parenting plan which reduces as much as possible direct interaction between the parents.

The concept of parallel parenting is borrowed from the child development literature. Children below the age of 3 do not usually have the social skills to play with each other. They can play in the same room but use their own toys and avoid interactions. As one author puts it "they leave each other alone" (Aronsohn, 2008).

According to Bridget Baker, Director of Court Operations of the 8th Judicial Court of Florida, parallel parenting plans are appropriate for parents who: do not get along, are highly reactive to each other, feel extremely uncomfortable in each other's presence, have an order of protection, or cannot cooperate in one or more major areas of parenting. Parallel parenting arrangements are partially predicated on the assumptions from 1) every child has the right to a meaningful relationship with each parent 2) every child has the right to not be exposed to parental conflict 3) every child has the right to a meaningful relationship with each parent without the interference of the other. Once again the key concept in parallel parenting situations is disengagement.

Under parallel parenting arrangements, communication with each parent is minimal and conducted monthly online through such tools as Family Wizard. There is even software for objectively handling changes in scheduling. In parallel parenting, the parent who is with the child makes decisions on all activities with the child except in emergencies. This includes medical visits, extracurricular activities, choice of food, etc. Transitions are conducted without parent face to face contact as well as participation in school and extracurricular activities.

The immediate rewards for each parent is minimal personal interaction, no interference in each other's parenting, reduction of stress, and the development of parental autonomy. Most importantly valuable financial resources expended on wasteful conflict can be more usefully employed for the child's welfare.
Eddie Stephens
                   Squib of the Mon th:

Armao v. McKenney
, 42 Fla.L.Weekly D1011 (Fla. 4th DCA 2017).  Trial court found parties entered into an enforceable oral cohabitation agreement.

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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.
We are also having a contest to rename "FAMSEG." Got a suggestion?  Email us!

Advertise in FAMSEG!
For information: Contact Gabrielle Tollok at .
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