As this year comes to an end and we look toward 2021, it is important to appreciate all of those people who are important to us whether it be family, friends, co-workers, clients or acquaintances. 

The holiday season is a time when many of us take the time to help others, and this year, the Family Law Section was able to participate in the Trees of Hope fundraiser event in Quebec City, Canada through the generous gift of an anonymous donor. Our Section had a tree decorated for the fundraiser and our logo was displayed in the hotel lobby. We were the first organization from outside of Canada to participate in the fundraiser, which raises funds for the Quebec City's children's hospital.

The Family Law Section has many great upcoming CLE’s.  On December 10, we will host '2 Lawyers, 1 Law – Family Law Case Law Update 2020.'  Reuben DoupĂ© and Ron Kauffman, both board certified family law attorneys and fellows of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML), will be the speakers of this CLE. 

There is still time to register for the annual Certification Review Course on January 28 and 29, 2021. Be sure to register before the price increases on December 14, 2020.  This year’s Certification Review Court will consist of some new presenters, in addition to those that have presented in the past.  

We also have many other activities planned for 2021 including our Out-of-State Retreat from April 7-11, 2021 at the Fairmont Le Château Frontenac in Quebec City, Canada, chaired by Sheena Benjamin-Wise and Tenesia Hall; and our In-State Retreat from May 13-16, 2021 at the Hutchinson Shore Resort in Stuart, Florida, chaired by Aimee Gross and Kim Rommel-Enright. Both retreats will provide you with a chance to relax and enjoy some time away from the office.

I could not end 2020 without thanking our Section Administrator Willie Mae Shepherd. I would also like to thank Trace Norvell, Bernice Bird and Cash Eaton for their assistance with FAMSEG, as well as Chelsea Miller for assistance in editing my messages. 

In closing, I want to wish each of you a happy and healthy holiday season and a prosperous 2021. "Remember, with integrity you have nothing to fear, since you have nothing to hide." –Zig Zigler 

Douglas A. Greenbaum, Chair
CLE - Thursday, Dec. 10, 12 p.m. - 2 p.m.
Join board certified Marital & Family Law experts Reuben Doupé, Esq. and Ronald Kauffman, Esq. for an interactive discussion on key Florida family law appellate opinions in 2020. Topics will include modifications, parenting, alimony, equitable distribution, child support, relocation, enforcement, contempt, paternity, attorney’s fees, and disciplinary and ethical considerations. 2 CLE, .5 of which may be applied towards Ethics.

12:00 PM – 12:05 PM
Opening Remarks and Introductions
Chelsea Miller, Esq., Vero Beach

12:05 PM – 1:30 PM
Case Law Updates
Reuben Doupe’, Esq., Naples
Ronald Kauffman, Esq., Miami

1:30 PM – 1:55 PM
Discussion and Questions/Answers
Reuben Doupe’, Esq., Naples
Ronald Kauffman, Esq., Miami

1:55 PM – 2:00 PM
Closing Remarks
Chelsea Miller, Esq., Vero Beach
FLS Facebook Live Series, Tuesday, Dec. 15 at 12 p.m.
As part of our Section's Facebook Live series, which presents helpful tips and advice on timely topics from your Section peers, we invite you to tune in for 'Parenting During A Pandemic with Tips on Timesharing,' co-presented by Marck K. Joseph of The Joseph Firm, P.A., Miami and Anastasia Malone, Esq., of K/S Attorneys at Law, Boca Raton.

The 15-20 minute presentation is free and available to all of our FLS Facebook friends @FamilyLawFLA.

December 14 is the final date to register for the discounted price-per-credit hour special offered for the Marital & Family Law Review Course (held virtually) January 28-29, 2021.

Our premier lineup of Family Law experts will provide participants with critical information in an engaging format. For details on our speakers and topics, visit 2021 Marital and Family Law Review Course.

The 2021 Course has been awarded 15.0 General CLE hours with 2.0 Ethics hours. The 15.0 CLE hours all count towards the Marital & Family Law Certification requirements.
The Family Pet is Now Protected
As many pet owners know, pets are treated like members of the family. Losing, or leaving, them is often devastating, especially to children. Abuse or threats to abuse household pets are often used by abusers to control survivors of domestic violence. Florida Statute § 741.30 has recognized that intentionally injuring or killing a family pet is an indicator of whether the petitioner is in imminent danger of becoming a victim of domestic violence. 

There are instances where out of concern that the abusive partner might injure or kill the family pet, a survivor might not leave an abusive home. Survivors of domestic violence have even been coerced into returning home because they do not want the abusive partner to kill or harm their pets; having, some situations, been lured back home to check on the pet after the survivor received communication from the abusive party threatening harm or death to the pet. It might sound farfetched but research by the ASPCA found that one in four survivors reported returning to an abusive partner out of concern for their pet. [1] 
After years of effort, The Family Law Section of the Florida Bar in conjunction with the Animal Law Section of the Florida Bar, the 2019-2020 Legislative Session yielded a significant change in domestic violence law as it relates to the family pet. Florida Statute §§ 741.30(5)(a)(4) and (6)(a)(7), effective July 1, 2020, allows a court, when issuing a temporary or final injunction for protection against domestic violence, to:

“4. Award to the petitioner the temporary exclusive care, possession, or control of an animal that is owned, possessed, harbored, kept, or held by the petitioner, the respondent, or a minor child residing in the residence or household of the petitioner or respondent. The court may order the respondent to temporarily have no contact with the animal and prohibit the respondent from taking, transferring, encumbering, concealing, harming, or otherwise disposing of the animal. This subparagraph does not apply to an animal owned primarily for a bona fide agricultural purpose, as defined under s. 193.461, or to a service animal, as defined under s. 413.08, if the respondent is the service animal’s handler.” Â§ 741.30 Fla. Stat. (5)(a)(4).

The legislation has added much-needed “teeth” to the safety for pets in temporary and final judgments for protection against domestic violence. This new legislation further empowers survivors to leave abusive environments and have safety and protection for themselves and their pets. 
Florida domestic violence shelters also recognize the need for survivors and children to have their pets be safe too. Many now allow pets, so that the family can be safe and ultimately promote better safety outcomes. Should your client need these services, be sure they ask the shelter specifically as to their ability to accommodate or arrange for fostering services while the party and children are in shelter. [2]

While this change to the statute might seem frivolous to people who are unfamiliar with domestic violence, this is a very meaningful addition that enhances the safety of survivors. The concern these owners have for their pets is understandable when you consider how much enjoyment and comfort our pets have brought us all over the years and especially during this Pandemic. 

[1] Sen. Bob Dole & Matt Bershadker, Pets Play a Critical Role in the Safety of Domestic Violence Victims, Am. Soc’y for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Oct. 31, 2016), (emphasis added).

[2] A list of certified domestic violence shelters in the State of Florida can be found at

Jennifer Meiselman Titus is Board Certified in Juvenile Law and works with Peaceful Paths, the certified domestic violence center that serves survivors of domestic violence in Alachua, Bradford, and Union counties.

What It Was Like, What Happened, And What It's Like Now
This story is an attempt to give the reader a real, raw view of how addiction and subsequent recovery can affect an attorneys’ world.

I was raised in a good family, with good parents in an affluent suburb of a major metropolitan area. I did not grow up in a bad or dysfunctional childhood. I started drinking when I was in middle school. Alcohol was magic. It relieved my social anxiety, allowed me to fit in, and I fell in with a group of friends in high school who drank. While my drinking was heavy, I had no consequences as a result of drinking, either legally or from my parents.

I continued on to a major university. Alcohol allowed me to become the life of the party. I was Mr. Fraternity, Belushi in Animal House. I was having the time of my life. Again, during college I had no major consequences as a result of alcohol, except being put on deferred suspension for underage drinking, which I was proud of and wore as a badge of honor.

I continued to Law School at another major university. I was always able to keep a delicate balance of drinking and maintaining my studies. While in Law School alcohol continued to be my magical elixir. Again, the life of the party, known for always being up for a good time. Although I still did not experience any legal or other major consequences from my drinking, there were plenty of embarrassing moments, from “sleeping” at football games to being majorly intoxicated when your parents are telling the dean of students how proud they are at graduation. I was lucky, even surviving a traffic stop on the way home from happy hour after running a red light. The policeman “didn’t want to ruin my life.”

Studying for the bar exam I was drinking every night, not to the point of excess (or so I thought.) I did not think that it was strange to be drinking the night before each session of the Bar Exam. I did well on the Bar Exam and went on to start my legal career. That is when “real life” hit and was when I crossed a line from which I could never come back. 

All of a sudden, I was not a student, I was a practicing attorney working, and so were all of my buddies. My drinking friends faded into a new life of engagements, marriages and starting families. I did not. I was drinking heavily every night and began waking up on Saturday mornings and drinking. I even was called from a prospective employer for a job interview on a Saturday and told to come in for a second interview, in an hour. I was drunk. I nailed the interview and got the job.

I never went to work drunk, but from that time forward, I went to work in a state of delirium suffering from alcohol withdrawal, every day. Vomiting every morning, sweating in court and counting each second until I could go home for relief. The only relief - and only solution to my problem - was the problem, alcohol.

This resulted in failed relationships, going through multiple jobs over the course of the first several years of my career, and experiencing countless embarrassing incidents. The culmination of my alcoholism ended in being terminated from a job I held for almost two years, right before Christmas. I was told, "Sometimes your work is brilliant, but oftentimes, your office is like a blackhole from which no work comes out."

After losing that job, I intended on searching for a new one immediately. Instead, I ended up on a 3-4 day bender of which I have little recollection. My friend found me passed out in my apartment. There were receipts in my pocket from a liquor store I do not remember driving to. I did not want to drink anymore, but the power of choice was long gone. 

I ended up in the hospital for treatment of alcohol withdrawal, delirium tremens. The next day I asked the attending physician if this meant I can never drink again - never have I heard a doctor laugh that hard before or since. I was told if you want to live, you can never drink again. I immediately went to therapy and immediately began attending alcoholics anonymous (AA), which saved my life. I immediately reached out to Florida Lawyer’s Assistance and sought help and guidance from other lawyers. The first year was a difficult struggle.

I realize how lucky and blessed I am. I suffered no criminal consequences and no consequences with the Florida Bar. Being sober well over a decade, I have a wife and children. I have been able to repair relationships with family members, some of whom have since passed. I am able to be present and helpful to my loved ones. I am a highly respected accomplished attorney in my field.

I am alive. And I found life through recovery!

NOTE: In May of this year, The Florida Bar launched a confidential Mental Health Helpline for more than 90,000 eligible members. For more information, CLICK HERE.
Why Go To Therapy?
Therapy is incredibly useful in helping you deal with issues. Everything from difficulty sleeping, anxiety, depression to having trouble with relationships and traumas. Unfortunately, we often ignore our problems under the mistaken belief that if we ignore it long enough it will go away. Of course, our life experiences show that it never works out that way. Problems ignored just get worse.
Here are 5 common reasons why you may want to give therapy a try:
1. Going Through a Big Change - Anything from loss of a job, to a major change in routine, the pandemic has made everyone feel off-keel and has done a real number on relationships. Talking to someone about the stress and uncertainty you feel can make you feel better and free up your mind to work on solutions.
2. Unexpected Mood Swings - This kind of goes along with the big change noted above; if you are noticing that you are in a more negative mood than normal or engaging in behaviors that are somehow "not you.” Engaging in therapy can help you get to the root of the problem and work on getting back to "normal." A trained therapist can help you develop insight into why this is happening to uncover the bigger picture.
3. Withdrawal - A loss of motivation could be a signal that something is wrong. The pandemic has changed-up and mixed-up our activities. Its hard to be a social butterfly and enjoy socializing with others. You may feel "abnormal" and "not yourself" but don't feel comfortable talking to anyone. Therapy can help you look at the situation and analyze strategies and coping skills to get back to the "real you" especially during crisis.
4. Isolation - Many people are feeling isolated right now, and with isolation comes depression and anxiety. When you enter therapy, you learn that you are not alone. That others (maybe even most people around you) feel exactly the way you do and that there is nothing to feel ashamed about. You can get through this. There is hope.
5. Substance abuse - While I haven't seen any research on the subject yet, I have no doubt that rates of substance abuse have risen since the pandemic. Substance abuse invariably causes isolation, which brings depression and anxiety. You are not alone. You are not a "flawed" human being. We can address the root causes of your illness.
Lastly, if you are considering going to therapy but keep putting it off, I will leave you with one basic question: In your experience, when was the last time a problem got better by ignoring it?

Alex Kranz has been a practicing family law attorney in Palm Beach Gardens for over 25 years. He is also a licensed mental health counselor working primarily with addiction, depression, and anxiety. He can be reached at 561-255-9350.  
In our "Faces of Family Law" video series, we introduce you to members of the Executive Council and Executive Committee so you can learn more - and feel connected to - your fellow Section colleagues.

This month, we welcome long-time Section member and fierce advocate for domestic violence victims, Tenesia C. Hall of Legal Aid Society of the Orange County Bar Association in Orlando.

Click the video to learn more about Tenesia and some of the benefits she's enjoyed by being involved with the Section.
Alternative Dispute Resolution
Chelsea Miller, Esq., Rossway, Swan, Tierney, Barry & Oliver, P.L., Vero Beach
 Anthony Genova, Esq., Genova Family Law, Miami
Mission of the Committee
The Children’s Issues Committee looks at placement, safety, welfare, and best interest of children in all areas of family law. The committee works closely with the Legislation Committee and Executive Council in ensuring that children’s interests are a primary concern. 

What the Committee does
This Committee routinely reviews proposed legislation regarding children’s issues. The committee also conducts legal research to review, draft, and propose legislation regarding the best interests of the children. The committee is always looking to form new subcommittees to explore potential avenues for improvement of legislation and statutes that deal specifically with children’s issues.

Goals of the Committee this bar cycle
The goals of this Committee this year are to review and comment on any legislation addressing children’s issues that are presented during the legislative session. The committee is also in the process of conducting research for each of our subcommittees, including a newly created subcommittee on contingency language in parenting plans and marital settlement agreements. The committee works in conjunction with other committees of the Section to provide information and materials to the general Section Membership in the form of publications and CLEs. 

How the Committee’s work supports its members, the Section and/or Florida’s Families
This committee is in place to ensure the best interests of the children are the primary consideration in all children’s related issues. This committee works toward providing information to our membership regarding this standard through CLEs, publications, legislation, etc. 

One thing you did not know about the Committee until you joined
That the Children’s Issues committee cover such a breadth of topics, legislation, statutes, etc. It is truly an all-encompassing committee that more often than not, overlaps with other Family Law Section Committees and/or Ad Hoc Committees.

Marital and Family Law Certification Review Course
Sarah E. Kay, Esq., B.C.S., Kay Family Law, P.L.L.C., Tampa
Mission of the Committee
This is a committee of four, each member having been appointed by the incoming Secretary of the Executive Committee of Family Law Section of the Florida Bar to serve. The committee works in conjunction with the Executive Director and leadership of the Florida Chapter of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers to produce the annual Marital & Family Law Certification Review Course which is typically held for a day and a half beginning on the last Friday of January.

What the Committee does
This four-member group is responsible for selecting speakers, reviewing all materials, and organizing the entirety of the Annual Marital and Family Law Review Course held each January in Orlando, Florida. The committee is also solely responsible to deliver the "Tips and Nibbles" event each year, which is typically held the Wednesday before the Certification Review course. "Tips and Nibbles" is an invitation only event for registered test takers. This interactive event includes a panel of attorneys Board Certified in Marital & Family Law by The Florida Bar and a past exam writer who will speak about their experiences in becoming board certified and provide ideas about practices in preparing for the Marital & Family Law Board Certification Exam.

Goals of the Committee this bar cycle
In light of the unprecedented times that we find ourselves in due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the difficult decision was jointly made by the Family Law Section and AAML Florida Chapter leadership to convert the flagship event to a virtual format for the first time in the event's history. The Committee is working diligently with the speakers, the AAML of Florida's Executive Director and leadership, and the Family Law Section's leadership to ensure the content and delivery of the event meets or exceeds the prior years in its new virtual environment.

How the Committee’s work supports its members, the Section and/or Florida’s Families
The committee exists to (A) support the efforts of those registered to take the Florida Marital and Family Law Board Certification Exam; and (B) deliver high quality educational content in spoken and written format to promote professionalism and excellence within the Florida family law community.

One thing you did not know about the Committee until you joined 
As an attendee, there is no way of fathoming the amount of work that goes into producing the Certification Review Course each January. However, while this working committee is a gigantic commitment of time, energy, and experience, it is insurmountably rewarding to be a part of this cohesive and top-notch team. 

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