Family Law Section Monthly Newsletter
Chair's Message
Happy May Day Section Members!
Today, May first, or May Day as it is recognized throughout the Northern hemisphere, marks the official halfway point between the first day of spring, and the summer solstice. It is also the day designated as International Worker's Day, in honor of the eight-hour work day. (I know - wouldn't it be terrific if we only worked an eight (8) hour day?) I learned close to twenty years ago that it is also customary for one to dance in the rain should there be some on May first, as it is believed to bring the dancer good luck. (That led to many freakishly odd rain dances, often in Tampa on the tarmac on the way to or from the annual AAML Institute, but that is a story for another day.) On this May Day, I am well beyond the halfway point between the first day of my tenure and the end of my year as Chair of this very active and hardworking section of the Florida Bar. Although a bit premature as I have yet another FAMSEG message to go out to all of you next month, I wanted to provide you a look at the labor of some of our members, all around the great state of Florida.
The Nominating Committee (comprised of the section's Executive Committee members and Executive Council member Kathryn Beamer who was the Chair-Elect's designee from the membership-at-large), met on Friday, April 21st in Coral Gables to assemble the 2017/2018 slate of officers and Executive Council Member nominees. The slate is: Chair, Nicole L. Goetz, Chair-Elect, Abigail Beebe, Treasurer, Amy C. Hamlin, Secretary Douglas Greenbaum, and myself as Immediate Past Chair. The eight (8) Executive Council Members selected for terms ending in 2021 are: Trish Armstrong, Sheena Benjamin-Wise, Tenesia Hall, Sarah Kay, Matthew Lundy, Christopher Rumbold, Philip Schipani and Philip Wartenberg. There were three additional Executive Council members selected to fill two slots created by the unfortunate resignations of long-time members Terry Fogel and Thomas Duggar, and to fill the slot created by the nomination of Douglas Greenbaum to the position of section Secretary. Those nominees are Anastasia Garcia (filling Terry Fogel's term ending in 2018); Sarah Sullivan (filling Thomas Duggar's term ending in 2019); and Kim Rommel-Enright (filling Douglas Greenbaum's 2018 term.) The slate above will be presented at our Family Law Section Luncheon on Wednesday, June 21, 2017 at the Boca Raton Resort and Spa in conjunction with the Bar's Annual Convention. Buy your ticket today, as you will not want to miss the presentation and celebration!
The section's Legislation Committee has been hard at work in Tallahassee, with several members - Amy Hickman, Andrea Reid and Shannon Novey, as well as the Committee's Co-Chairs Philip Wartenberg and Bonnie Sockel-Stone - having recently presented on matters pending in legislation. We continue to actively monitor Senate Bill 200 Relating to Temporary Respite Care of a Child and Senate Bill 590 Relating to Child Support and Parenting Time Plans, and will keep one and all apprised of the status of both.

The CLE Committee, though suffering some scheduling setbacks, is preparing a wonderful day-long seminar on Domestic Violence to be held in Tampa in October.

The numbers are in from the 2017 Annual Marital & Family Law Review Course, chaired by the incredibly capable and budget savvy Aimee Gross and her committee including Philip Wartenberg, Bonnie Sockel-Stone and Heather Apicella. The section's net profit after all expenses, including those paid to the Florida Chapter of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers for their administration services and contribution to the quality of the seminar, is $357,246.26! A huge congratulations to Ms. Gross and her committee, as well as to Jorge Cestero, our AAML liaison, and Natalie Lemos, President of the AAML for 2016-2017. The section is exceedingly grateful to Susan Stafford and Gabby Tollok, without whom the success of the program would be hard to maintain!
The section has recently entered into a contract with Lisa M. Tipton, APR, with PR Florida, Inc. to assist with its social media, marketing and public relations and Ms. Tipton has already begun working on section branding and - thankfully! - crafted an alert for dissemination to all section members reminding us to log into the NEW Members only section of The Florida Bar website - hopefully, you read that message and have created your new account, as it is officially up and running today!
The Publications Committee has been hard at work in getting this monthly e-newsletter out regularly, and seeing to it that the quarterly Commentator is sent to print and posted on the section website as quickly as possible. On The Florida Bar Journal's less than optimal Family Law Section presence, Abigail Beebe, our very own section Treasurer-about-to-become-Chair-Elect, is working hard on an article submission, and former Executive Council member and Fort Myers Board Certified attorney Luis Insignares is revising an article he will be submitting in the very near future. I encourage you all to seriously consider writing a piece for the Journal; its circulation is the entire Florida Bar membership, and it is a true honor to be published there.
This is just a snippet of the great work being accomplished by the section. The labor that we undertake on behalf of Florida's families is important and meaningful. Thank you for all that YOU labor for, for the good of the families of our fine state, and, if it is raining, please get out there and dance
"All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence." - Martin Luther King Jr.
Laura Davis Smith, Esquire
Chair, Family Law Section
Upcoming Events:

May 18 - 21, 2017 - In-State Retreat.  Islamorada, FL. Info here
June 21, 2017 - Section Committee Meetings,  Info here.

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 to order Audio CDs and DVDs
How do you define success?
A happy family, good health, enjoying work, and ability to travel.
Why do you practice Family Law? I enjoy helping people sleep at night by solving their most stressful problems.
Favorite Family Law Case? Currently, Ledoux-Nottingham v. Downs.
Favorite quote? "Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt." - Author unknown
Favorite book? Early Autumn by Robert B. Parker.
Favorite TV show and why? Game of Thrones. Because . . . Game of Thrones.
Best place you have travelled to? Laos.
Proudest accomplishment within the section? Publishing.
What benefits do you receive as a result of your Section participation? Traveling the state and making new connections and friends who share my interest.
Section News:

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.

Working Moms - How to Juggle Work with Being an Involved Parent
Work and pursuing a gainful career can be incredibly time-consuming yet financially rewarding. Raising children and spending quality time with them can  also be time-consuming yet emotionally rewarding. For a working mom that gets enjoyment and satisfaction out of both employment or entrepreneurial efforts and being a mother active in her child's life, striking the right balance can be a real challenge. There just never seems to be enough hours in the day to get everything done.
If you were to survey a sample of working moms from around the country, you would undoubtedly find that the number one hint they can give you is smartly managing your time. Get good at scheduling and planning ahead and you will also get better at making work and motherhood balance out.
Here's some helpful tips every working mom should know:
  • Nightly accomplishments: Nothing is worse than an early morning rush hour in your own home, trying to get everything done before the sun shows its face. Before you go to bed, knock out as many little tasks as you can that you would have done in the morning instead. Consider at least prepping lunches and breakfast.
  • Plan and schedule: Millions of Americans swear by a pocket planner or planner app in their smartphone to organize their days, weeks, and months. You might want to join their ranks and find a planner or scheduler that you like. As all of those people can testify, they really do work if you put some thought into how you plan ahead.
  • Nanny time: If you have the extra resources, consider hiring a nanny to help you out during the busiest hours of the day, such as when your child gets out of school but you still need to be at work. There are plenty of services and sites out there that help you find a nanny you can trust.
  • Networked: Today is the best working moms and dads have ever had it thanks to the constant advancement of technology. Right in your pocket, you have a connection to the internet - so put it to good use! You can shop for groceries, schedule doctor's appointments, pay your bills, and so much more in just a few clicks. If you aren't certain how to use your smartphone to its fullest, you may be able to get some help from the retailer that sold you the phone.
  • Workload adjustment: Realistically, you will eventually feel the weight of your workload overbearing on your time spent being an attentive mom. If and when this happens, talk to your boss about how the company can help you find a more flexible schedule or workload. If you are your own boss, what can you do to help yourself at the office or store? Can you afford to hire an assistant?
  • Office at home: If you work from your home - either full-time or after you leave the office - set aside one particular room or space in your house for work and work only. Otherwise, your brain will start to associate your entire home as a secondary workspace and you'll find it difficult to relax and spend time with your kids when you can.
  • Expect losses: Perhaps the most important hint you can hear is that you need to expect to lose out on your own free time, and often. Luckily, as most parents will say, spending time with their kids, helping them with homework, and watching them grow ends up being more fun than any sort of "me time" anyway. Just don't be surprised when you have less time to watch movies, play video games, go out with friends, and so on. Work and motherhood take up time - but the rewards for dedicating yourself to both are massive!
Three most important things an attorney needs to know about Parental Alienation

1.      Have to get the case before the court quickly.
Too often clients wait too long before seeking legal help and come to an attorney very late in their case. In some cases they've been eliminated from their children's lives for years and only then start to seek legal help. In other cases both the attorney and client don't want to make the situation worse and delay taking the case to court. Whatever the situation the case needs the judge's attention as soon as possible. By alerting the court the attorney is emphasizing the urgency that court intervention is need immediately. By presenting the case as a potential child abuse case perhaps the court will pay closer attention. But the court  will not intervene if it doesn't know about the case and the abusive behavior that is being exhibited by one of the litigants.
2.       Encourage your client to maintain contact with his or her children.
Frequently parents "don't want to make waves so they don't assert themselves with their children. They very often think that if they insist on seeing their children it will make their situation worse. Actually the opposite is true in that if they hold back and become absent not only will the alienation potentially get worse but their behavior frequently will be use as an example that they really don't care about their role as a parent. Typically nothing could be further from the truth. Phone contact, email, texting gifts, etc. need to be continued to demonstrate that they care very much for their children.
3.      Hire an expert who is knowledgable about Parental Alienation
Hiring the right expert can possibly make the difference between success or failure. The case's resolution rest with the trier of fact and if he or she is well informed by credible, factual and well supported testimony then you have a better chance of reuniting your client and his or her children. Experts don't always have to testify they can assist you in your litigation strategy, prepare questions for cross-examining the opposing side's experts, interpret the "psychobabble" in your case, and many other things. Yes experts are expensive but they can make a big difference.
These are three important issues for attorneys who are representing a rejected parent, another victim of Parental Alienation; you see the children are the first victims with life- long detrimental consequences.  Want to learn more?  Take our 11 module, on-demand program and earn 16.5 CLEs and a lot of valuable information.   Click here to sign up and for more information, or contact Dr. Robert A. Evans.  

Squib of the Mon th:  

Bernard v. Bernard , 42 Fla.L.Weekly D672 (Fla. 4 th  DCA 2017).  Order of civil contempt reversed when Husband spent all the money he was required to withdraw from his 401(k) to satisfy his obligation because at the time of the hearing, he had no ability.
Family Law Section Sponsors

Platinum Level:

Gold Level:
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.

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


Advertise in FAMSEG!
For information: Contact Gabrielle Tollok at