The Florida Bar Family Law Section Monthly Newsletter

Nicole L. Goetz
2017-2018 Section Chair
Living in Naples, much of September was taken up with Hurricane Irma. Of course, then we had our fall meetings in October, so it is a little hard for me to believe that it is already November. For those of you who were unable to attend our fall meetings, we gathered in Southwest Florida, in Bonita Springs to be exact, and we had wonderfully productive meetings of all of our committees and section leadership. 
If you were not able to join us for the fall meetings, our next committee meetings will take place in conjunction with the annual presentation of the Marital & Family Law Review Course at the Loew's Royal Pacific Hotel in Orlando. Our 2017-2018 mid-year committee meetings are Jan. 25, 2018, the review course is Jan. 26 and our executive council meeting is Jan. 27. For those of you who are somehow unfamiliar with the Marital & Family Law Review Course, this is one of the most comprehensive survey review courses on family law in the county, and is co-presented with the AAML Florida Chapter. Attendance at this section event in recent years has topped over 1,600 people. Register now because space fills up quickly. I hope to see you there! 
Finally, this month our EC Spotlight features Michelle Klinger Smith from the Florida Keys, an area that we all know was devastated by Hurricane Irma. Despite the hurricane, Michelle made it to our fall meetings to chair our Support Issues Committee! Michelle is an active member in the section, and is a member of the executive council as well as our Legislation, Litigation Support and Constitutional Revision committees. Michelle never refuses a request to take on an issue, or shepherd a cause for the section. She has devoted countless hours to putting together our Trial Advocacy program, and you will soon see her speaking at one of our upcoming CLE presentations. We are thankful for Michelle's hard work, and we are so very pleased to recognize her this month in our EC Spotlight.

Nicole L. Goetz, Esq., Naples
Chair, Family Law Section of The Florida Bar

Upcoming Events & CLEs
  • Nov. 17.  Practice Tips in Domestic Violence Litigation : How to Effectively Represent Clients in Domestic Violence Cases - live (Tampa) and webcast. Approved for 8.0 General / 8.0 Marital & Family Law CLE credits.
  • Nov. 30. Mechanics of the Marital & Family Law Board Certification Exam  (audio webcast). Not eligible for CLE credit.
  • Dec. 7. Family Law Case Update *  (audio webcast).
  • Dec. 13. Title IV Parenting Plan Explained*  (audio webcast) - Michelle Klinger Smith and David Manz.  (Noon) 1 hour.
  • Jan. 25. 2018 Midyear Committee Meetings - Orlando.
  • Jan. 26 - 27, 2018. Marital & Family Law Review Course *  - Orlando (presented in conjunction with the Florida Chapter of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers).
  • Feb. 28, 2018.   Enforcement of Equitable Distribution* (audio webcast) - Reuben Doupe and Elisha Roy. (Noon) 1 hour.
  • March 2, 2018. Money Matters: Making it Rain for Your Client* (live, all-day event) - Location TBD.
  • April 19, 2018. 2018 Family Law Section Legislative Update* (audio webcast) - Bonnie Sockel-Stone and Aimee Gross. (Noon) 2 hours.
* Pending Florida Bar CLE credit approval.

Seeking additional CLE credit? Click  here   for on-demand online CLE courses. 
Practice Tips in Domestic Violence Litigation: How to Effectively Represent Clients in Domestic Violence Cases

Live and Webcast - Course 2292R
Nov. 19, 2017
8:35 a.m. to 5:20 p.m. Eastern
Tampa Marriott Waterside Hotel & Marina

Section Members - $250
 Non-Section Members - $305

A prestigious group of attorneys and judges will speak on a topic that relates to every family law practice. Learn in-depth information on domestic violence and how to deal with and effectively represent clients in injunction for protection cases. Safety considerations, tips from judges on effective representation and cross examination, criminal considerations and case law review. For attorneys representing both petitioners and respondents.

Approved by The Florida Bar for 8.0 General 
and 8.0 Marital & Family Law CLE Credits
  Live & Webcast Registration
Mechanics of the Marital and Family Law Certification Exam*

Live Audio Webcast - Course 2734R
Thursday Nov. 30, 2017, 
Noon - 2 p.m. Eastern

Section Member $75
Non-Section Member $130
Full-time law college faculty
or full-time law  student $93

This seminar is not eligible for CLE credit.

Gain insights* into why you should become board certified: the application process, exam, study tips, format, administration, exam-taking tips and grading. As an audio webcast attendee, you will listen to the program over the Internet. 

*This seminar is intended to assist both those who have applied to take the certification exam and those who are thinking about taking the exam in the future. It is developed and conducted without any involvement or endorsement by The Florida Bar Board of Legal Specialization & Education and/or certification committees. Furthermore, those who have developed the program have had no communication with the certification committee that prepares and grades the examination and they have no information regarding its content or format other than the information contained in the exam specifications, which are also provided to each examinee. Candidates for certification who take this course should not assume that the course material will cover all topics on the examination or that the examination will cover all topics in the course material.
Family Law Section Sponsors  

Platinum Level


Bronze Level

Summer Commentator Now Online

Come hurricane or high water ... the Commentator will be published!

Thank you to the team of writers and editors who worked exceptionally hard during a challenging time to get the summer Commentator finalized and printed. Publications Chair Julia Wyda, Commentator Vice-Chairs Heather Apicella and Tenesia Hall, Guest Editor Alicia Alicia M. de la O, Section Administrator Gabrielle Tollok and Florida Bar graphic designer Donna Richardson all pitched in to ensure that we ended up with yet another outstanding issue that includes the following articles:
  • Why Put It In Writing? The Consequences of Oral Cohabitation
  • What is the Prevalence of Parental Alienation?
  • Co-Mediation to Collaborative Mediation: A Case Study In Client-Focused Dispute Resolution
  • Florida Case Law Summaries - Technology/Social Media Issues 
  • Are DROP, BacDrop, & PRB Accounts Marital Assets in Florida?
  • What's It Worth? Re-Thinking Vehicle Valuation
Fall Meeting Photos
View more photos on the section's Facebook page.


Click HERE for this month's Squibs family law case summaries.

Squib of the Month Ortiz v. Ortiz, 42 Fla.L.Weekly D2025 (Fla. 3rd DCA 2017).  Wife's agreement in parenting plan that "each party shall be responsible for their own fees associated with the present litigation' did not waive wife's right to seek fees because you cannot contract away temporary fees before final judgment is entered.
Michelle Klinger Smith
The Manz Law Firm, Marathon,
with husband Richard.
Executive Council Member Profile: Michelle Klinger Smith

How do you define success? My definition of success is being f inancially stable and having control over your own time. I believe that it is essentially being able to do what you want, when you want, while being able financially to afford to do so.

Why do you practice family law?  I practice family law because it is an area that encompasses many legal issues and because it is continuously evolving area of law that requires practicing attorneys to be up to date in order to effectively represent their clients. For example, the Marital & Family Law Review Course provides written materials on 20 different aspects of family law, i.e. alimony, UCCJEA/UIFSA/Hauge, attorney fees, enforcement, agreements, relocation, modification, etc. The presenters speak on 17 different areas of family law. Each area has certain nuances. Family law can be complex and each case is different. A family law practitioner is constantly learning.  I enjoy learning and I enjoy knowing as many distinctions in the area of family law as possible. It is a rewarding challenge. 

What is something few people know about you?  I entered college with a major in political science with the intention to attend law school. However, by chance I took a course on ancient Greece that inspired me to add a second major in history and a minor in classical antiquities.  If I could choose a different career, I would be an archeologist.

Favorite family law case? My recently reported case of Schafstall v. Schafstall, 211 So.3d 1108 (Fla. 3d DCA 2017). It is reassuring after several years of representing a client to prevail in your argument at the trial level and then again at the appellate level. Then, having your case cited by another district is incredible. If Cynthia Green discusses it during cert review, I am going to be floored. 

Favorite book and why?  My favorite book is always the last book I read. I never finish a book that I do not enjoy. The last book I read was "Under a Dark Summer Sky." I am a huge fan of historical fiction. This is a story focused around the Labor Day hurricane of 1935 that caused catastrophic devastation and caused over 400 deaths in the Keys. It gives a very detailed account of the storm passing over Islamorada and derailing Flagler's Railroad. In light of Hurricane Irma, it really hit home.  After reading the detailed account of the Labor Day hurricane, I never second guessed evacuating the Keys when Irma was approaching. 
Favorite TV show and why?  "The Office" simply because it's hilarious. It is a clever way to portray an otherwise mundane business environment.  I can binge watch the show on Netflix over and over.  There is nothing like a good laugh.
Favorite song lyric?
"My friends they were few but to me they were true
All we was trying to do was just to make it through
Always thought for the future, but we shouldn't have cared
All the best things in life we shared them right there"
~ G. Love and Special Sauce
Best place you have traveled? The British Virgin Islands. My husband and I traveled there last year for our honeymoon. He is a licensed captain, so we chartered our own catamaran. We traveled around the islands, spending each night in a different harbor at a mooring ball. We would moor the boat and take the dinghy ashore to explore, shop and eat. It is definitively a trip that I want to take again.
Proudest accomplishment within the section? My appointment to the executive counsel, as well as receiving the Spotlight and Rising Star awards. 
What benefits do you receive as a result of your section participation? Section participation allows me to meet attorneys from all over the state.  Since I live in a small county where there are very few attorneys that practice exclusively family law, it is encouraging to see others out there that share a passion for family law. I know that I can reach out to anyone in the section. I have friends all over the state because of my section involvement. 
Coffee or tea? Coffee in the morning and tea in the afternoon.
If you were stranded on a desert island, what three items could you not live without? I watch the show "Naked and Afraid," so my first answer would be along the lines of a survivalist (fire starter, machete and tarp). However, I realize that this is a hypothetical question so I would say a Kindle that has as many books as it can hold, a good mattress and pillow, and kayak or paddleboard because staring at the water and not being able to be on it will drive me crazy.
Nadia Pazos, attorney and managing partner, Pazos Law Group, South Florida
Does Having Children Impact Your Risk of Divorce?

If you thought that disagreements about finances, work-family balance, sex and in-laws were the greatest threats to your marriage, you might want to think again. According to research, a couple's risk of  divorce  may actually be more dependent on the age at which they choose to get married and have children ---- with couples who wait typically having a better chance of staying married.

According to Forbes , the number-one factor contributing to a couple's chance of divorce is if they marry while still in their teens. Women who marry before their 18th birthdays have a whopping 48 percent chance of divorce; a number nearly twice the rate of women who wait until age 25 or older.

As far as children are concerned, factors such as how couples feel about having kids, their genders and their health all play considerable roles. Women who want children more strongly than their spouses are twice as likely to divorce as those who agree on the number of children they want. Couples with two sons have a nearly 37 percent chance of splitting, whereas couples with two daughters face a higher likelihood of 43.1 percent. Finally, couples with a child diagnosed with attention deficit disorder (ADHD) have a 22.7 percent greater chance of splitting before the child's eighth birthday over parents with children without ADHD.

Couples Without Children Divorce More.  Other research has indicated that couples without children tend to be more likely to split than those with kids. According to a 2011  article published in the Huffington Post , 66 percent of divorced couples in the United States are childless, whereas only 40 percent have kids. This is because it is believed that the absence of children leads to loneliness and weariness. While the argument can easily be made that having children can add a considerable amount of stress in a couple's life, having kids provides a strong motive for parents to stay together. Non-parent couples, though they may have more time to spend on themselves, their careers, and their marriages, do not have such motivation.

Having Lots of Siblings Reduces Your Divorce Risk.  A person's upbringing and size of their family can have an equally large impact on their future chances of divorce.  In a 2013 article published in Psychology Today  studying the correlation between family size and divorce risk, researchers concluded that adults who grew up as only children were least likely to marry, with those who did marry experiencing the highest risk of divorce. While individuals with two to three siblings experienced similar divorce rates, those with four to seven siblings had significantly lower divorce rates in adulthood, with a 2 percent reduction in divorce risk for each additional sibling.
Johnson, Baietto Article Published in ABA Newsletter

Congratulations to Family Law Section members Jennifer Johnson and Brenda A. Baietto on publication of their article "Diverse Family Structure: Reevaluating the Best-Interests-of-the-Child Standard" in the ABA Minority Trial Lawyer Section  of Litigation Summer Newsletter 2017. 

Read the full article.
Family Law Section Sponsorship: NOW is the Time to Be Involved

Your Family Law Section sponsorship this year will result in excellent exposure for your company.

The section as active social media profiles on Facebook and Twitter where we regularly will be posting information about our sponsors, including photos and links from section events. We've added sponsorship categories and benefits in each level that include speaking opportunities, inclusion in printed programs for section functions, extra ticketing for events, etc. As in the past, your annual sponsorship includes listings on our section's website; logos, links and ads in our publications; signage at events; and exhibit space at key events.
The section also offers a number of event-based sponsorship opportunities for companies interested in connecting with our near 4,000 attorney members. 
Sponsorship of The Florida Bar Family Law Section is an excellent way to showcase your firm or business. If you are interested in being involved, or have any questions whatsoever, please do not hesitate to contact Sponsorship Committee Chairs Matt Lundy and Beth Luna, or our section administrator Gabrielle Tollok. We hope to hear from you and look forward to helping you showcase your business and services.  

The Family Law Section WANTS YOU to write for one of three publications: The Florida Bar Journal, the Family Law Section's  Commentator and/or FAMSEG. For more information contact C. Debra Welch or  Lori Caldwell-Carr.
Journal : To be considered for publication in The Florida Bar Journal, the article should be scholarly and relate in some manner to family law. It should be 12-15 pages in length, complete with end notes. 
Commentator : The Family Law Section's glossy quarterly magazine. Articles could range from substantive articles to advice about lifestyle and wellness. 
FAMSEG : Have an announcement? Pictures of a section event? Something light and fluffy? FAMSEG is your place! 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." Have a suggestion? Email us!
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