Welcome to our December edition of FAMSEG. 2022 is coming to an end, but our Section year is just hitting the halfway mark. Our live Midyear Committee meetings are right around the corner, scheduled for Thursday, January 26, 2023, at the Gaylord Palms Resort, in Orlando. This coincides with our annual Family Law Review Course, which is rapidly filling up. (And as a reminder, our early registration rates for the Review Course will be ending on Friday, December 9). Please make sure to make your plans earlier rather than later for attending!
Our Executive Council meeting is scheduled for two days later, on Saturday, January 28, 2023. All members are welcome to attend this meeting, which will immediately follow the conclusion of our annual Family Law Review Course.
Our committees have been working hard since we last met in person in August at our Fall meetings. The timing of our Midyear Meetings (right before the Review Course) makes it possible for many of you to attend – so why don’t you attend? For those who are new to the workings of the Section, we have 12 different Operational Committees, 9 Substantive Law Committees, and 4 Ad Hoc Committees – and all Section members are encouraged to attend and participate in these meetings. A listing and description of our Committees can be found on our Section webpage at If there is a committee that interests you, please reach out to the chair(s) of that committee and let them know! Also, be on the look-out for our Committee Preference Forms for the 2023-2024 Section year that will start in July 2023. Those forms will be available on our Section website in February following our Midyear meetings.
I want to wish all of you a wonderful holiday season, and I look forward to seeing everyone in person at the Gaylord Palms in January!
Philip S. Wartenberg
Chair, 2022-2023
Early registration rates for the upcoming Marital & Family Law Review Course, January 25-28, 2023 ends this week, so if you're planning to attend, reserve your spot today!

We'll also host our Mid-Year Meetings and an Executive Council meeting on Saturday, January 28. The schedule is below, and links for Course Registration and Room Reservations follow:

– Wed. January 25: “Cert Tips & Nibbles” for Registered Test Takers, 4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
– Thurs. January 26: Family Law Section Committee Meetings, 8:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
– Friday, January 27: 2023 Marital & Family Law Review Course, 8:00 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
– Saturday, January 28: Review Course (cont’d), 8:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
– Saturday, January 28: Family Law Section Executive Council Mid-Year Meeting (mandatory for Executive Committee members), 1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.


Tuesday, Dec. 13, at 12PM
Join your fellow members for a free Family Law Live presentation on the Section's Facebook page on Tuesday, Dec. 13, at 12PM. Board certified family law attorney Shannon Novey of Novey + Gonzalez Family Law in Tallahassee, will present 'Success at Trial & in Family Law Practice.'

Mark you calendars then join the conversation HERE.
Managing Family Law Mediation Participants 101
This CLE webinar will show you how to develop and navigate an efficient strategy when conducting a family law mediation involving numerous participants – including professionals who commonly attend mediation. Additionally, party management, identification of who is/is not permitted to attend mediation (and under what circumstances), paraprofessionals, translators, victim advocates, therapist co-mediators, and the advantages/disadvantages of each participant. 1.5 CLE credits.


12:00 PM – 12:10 PM
Welcome and Introductions
Anastasia J. Mahone, Esq.
Tina El Fadel, Esq.

12:10 PM – 12:26 PM
Management of Mediation Participants: Mediator’s Perspective
Former Magistrate Barbara Beilly, Esq.

12:26 PM – 12:42 PM
Participation in Mediation as a Guardian Ad Litem
Former Magistrate Temi Zeitenberg, Esq.

12:42 PM – 12:58 PM
Participation in Mediation as a Forensic Accountant
Ari Harper, CPA, ABV, CFE

12:58 PM – 1:14 PM
Participation in Mediation as a Litigator
Tina Lewert, Esq.

1:14 PM – 1:30 PM
Questions and Answers
Anastasia J. Mahone, Esq.
Tina El Fadel, Esq.
Annual Out-of-State Retreat is March 22-26, 2023
Shine up those kickers and get ready for our annual Out-of-State Retreat, March 22-26, 2023 at the historic Driskill Hotel in downtown Austin, Texas. More information will be shared soon, and you hang your hat on the fact that Aimee Gross and Cash Eaton, our event co-chairs, are brewing up something bigger than a Brahma bull (or a cave full of bats!)

If you're interested in sponsoring this Texas-sized shindig, click HERE.

Stay tuned by bookmarking this page HERE.
By: Steven Nullman, Esq. 

Logreira v. Logreira, 2022 WL 4360595 (Fla 3rd DCA 2022)

Logreira is a recent case out of the Third District Court of Appeal.  In Logreira, the Appellate Court held that the trial court erred in ordering the parties’ two (2) minor children to participate in the Family Bridges Program, an out-of-state intensive program purporting to remedy the effects of Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS), because the father failed to present competent, substantial evidence that the participation in the program served in the best interest of the minor child[1]

The Logreira opinion reminds us that to prevail on a petition for modification of a parenting plan, the movant must prove by competent, substantial evidence both prongs of the two-part substantial change test, to wit: there was a substantial, material and unanticipated change in circumstances since the entry of the Final Judgment and that the requested modification is in the best interest of the minor children.

I. Factual Summary

The parties were married on November 3, 2001. There were two (2) minor children born during the marriage. The parties separated in the first half of 2011 and entered into a parenting plan in September 2011. The parties’ son was 8 years old and the parties’ daughter was 5 years old at the time of execution of the parenting plan.  

The parenting plan provided for the Former Husband to exercise substantial, (not equal) timesharing with the minor children. Subsequent to the execution of the Parenting Plan, the parties’ entered into a Marital Settlement Agreement. In September 2012, the Court entered a Final Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage which adopted and ratified the parties’ Marital Settlement Agreement and Parenting Plan. In the initial years following the entry of the Final Judgment, the Former Husband exercised far less timesharing than what was provided for in the parenting plan.

Starting in 2015, the Former Husband did not exercise any timesharing with the children until Spring 2016, when the Former Husband and minor children participated in reunification therapy. In October 2016, the Former Husband elected to no longer participate in reunification therapy and stopped exercising any timesharing with the minor children.

In 2019, the Former Husband filed a Supplemental Petition for Modification of the Parenting Plan and Other Relief (“Petition for Modification”) in which he sought to have the minor children attend the Family Bridges Program, or, in the alternative, to modify the parties’ Parenting Plan to grant him the majority of timesharing with the minor children.  The Former Wife denied that it would be in the best interest of the minor children to participate in the Family Bridges Program or to spend the majority of the time with the Former Husband.

The nine-day trial began on July 27, 2020 and concluded on October 9, 2020. At that time, the parties’ son was 17 years old, the parties’ daughter was 14 years old. The Former Husband had not had any contact with the children for almost four (4) years.   

On March 25, 2021, the Court entered a Final Judgment, which, in relevant part, granted the Former Husband’s request for the minor children to participate in the Family Bridges Program. 

The Former Wife filed a Motion for Rehearing, which was denied by the Trial Court. The Former Wife appealed the Trial Court’s Final Judgment. 

II. The Opinion 

The Former Wife argued at the Final Hearing and on appeal that there was no competent, substantial evidence in the record establishing that it was in the best interest of the minor children to a) require the minor children to participate in the Family Bridges Program or b) award the Former Husband the majority of the timesharing with the minor children and therefore the Former Husband’s requested modification could not be granted because he failed to satisfy two-part substantial change test of Wade v. Hirschman, 903 So 2d 928, (Fla. 2005).

On September 21, 2022, the Appellate Court reversed the Trial Court’s Final Judgment. In doing so, the Appellate Court held that to prevail on his modification action, the Former Husband “bore the dual burden of demonstrating there had been a substantial, material and unanticipated change of circumstances since the ratification of the initial parenting plan, and the best interests of the children would be served by compelled enrollment in Family Bridges.”  

While the Appellate Court opined that the Former Wife “presents a compelling argument that the evidence established the current circumstances were anticipated due to the historical family dynamic, and the parents’ increased animosity and inability to communicate do not constitute legally sufficient grounds to justify a modification,” the Appellate Court “need not weigh in on this argument” since “the latter prong is dispositive.”

The latter prong, as to whether the best interest of the children would be served by compelled enrollment in Family Bridges, was dispositive as the “trial court did not make any specific statutory findings, orally or in writing, and there was no direct testimony of record that participation in the Family Bridges program would promote the welfare and best interests of the children.” The failure of the trial court to “engage in any best interests analysis whatsoever renders a custody order legally insufficient.” The Appellate Court, instead, appeared to focus on the testimony of the social investigator who opined that a “forced separation between the children and the Former Wife, for an indeterminate time period,” as required by the Family Bridges Program, would not promote the welfare of the children and the social investigator was “uncertain as to whether forced participation in Family Bridges would ‘detrimentally harm’ the children.” This testimony from the social investigator did not support the trial court’s decision that it would be in the best interest of the children to order them to participate in the Family Bridges Program.  “Instead, a careful review of the record compels the opposite conclusion.”

Lastly, the Appellate Court held “although we are not unmindful that the trial court was in a superior position to observe and evaluate the witnesses, upon this record, the finding that compulsory participation in Family Bridges is in the best interests of the children cannot be sustained,” and reversed the Final Judgment and remanded for further proceedings. 

[1] The oldest child turned eighteen during the pendency of the appeal. Consequently, the family court no longer had jurisdiction over him.
ADA-Compliant Website: What is it? Does your law firm need one? 
By: Yanae M. Barroso, Esq. 

What is an “ADA-compliant website”?
An ADA-compliant website is a website that conforms to the guidelines set forth by the United States Department of Justice, pursuant to Section 508 of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The Act requires equal access for all Americans, which some may say includes website accessibility. 
What type of features does an ADA-compliant website contain?
Complete accessibility for disabled individuals that use computers and electronic devices. More specifically, an ADA-compliant website may present features that include the following:
1.    Text descriptions for all photos, graphics, and audio content (non-text content);
2.    Complete keyboard functionality (vs. simply accessible by a mouse/clicks); and 
3.    Simple visual content to make your website easily viewable and readable to users. 
Does Federal law require that your law firm’s website be ADA-compliant? 
While Federal law does not require that all law firms maintain an ADA-Compliant website, it is strongly encouraged to ensure inclusivity and accessibility to all persons. As lawyers, one of our primary objectives is to serve the public, which includes disabled individuals. Maintaining an ADA-Compliant website would demonstrate your firm's commitment to serving our disabled community. 
Where to begin making your website ADA-Compliant? 
Implementing ADA compliance for a website can be tricky since the Act does not provide specific guidelines. Many companies commonly look to other sources for guidance, such as the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 (WCAG). Some believe that the Federal Government will soon update federal regulations to require that websites comply with the recommendations set forth by the WCAG. If you are looking to get ahead of such legislation and for more information about WCAG and their guidance, you may visit their website at:
Alternatively, many IT and web design companies well-versed in online ADA compliance can assist you with getting your website into compliance. Employing a third party to help your law firm with the task may be the most efficient solution for someone who does not have the time or skillset to do it themselves. 
By: Ellen Silvers, Esq.

Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure, Rule 12.740 Family Mediation 

As we transition from the pandemic to venturing outside, returning to in person socializing, travelling, and working, Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure, Rule 12.740 has returned to the presumption of in-person mediations. According to Rule 12.740 (b), which changes went into effect as of October 1, 2022, all contested family matters and issues may be referred to mediation. The referral, or written stipulation of the parties, may provide for mediation or arbitration in person, remotely, audio, audio-video communication technology or a combination thereof. However, there is a catch, the rule continues as follows:

Absent direction in the order of referral, a mediation or arbitration must be conducted in person, unless the parties stipulate. The court, on its own motion or on motion by a party, otherwise orders, that the proceeding to be conducted by communication technology or by a combination or communication technology and in-person participation.
This places all lawyers on notice that if you want the mediation to be conducted through a communication technology platform, you must obtain an agreement with opposing counsel and file it with the court or obtain a court order. You must always be wary of when someone might try to set aside a mediation agreement because it was held via communication technology and did not follow this rule. One of the benefits of settling at mediation is the parties have closure, and potentially having a mediated settlement agreement set aside for failing to properly follow this procedure would be detrimental to the parties and process.

Rule 12.740 (d) states that a party is deemed to appear if the party is physically present at the mediation conference, or if permitted by court order or written stipulation of the parties, present via communication technology.

Section (d) continues by addressing who should be present at mediation. In the discretion of the mediator and with the agreement of the parties, family mediation may proceed in the absence of counsel unless otherwise ordered by the court.

What section (d) fails to address is what happens if one party is without counsel or both parties are without counsel, and the parties come to an agreement. Are counsel for the parties able to have their clients renege on an agreement because they were not in attendance at the mediation? Should the mediation agreement include some type of waiver language to prevent the mediated settlement agreement from being set aside?

The Rule continues in section (f) to change the requirement of attorneys executing any agreement of the parties. The only requirement in section (f) is that if an agreement is reached, as to any legal or factual issues, the agreement must be reduced to writing and need only be signed by the parties.

In sum, Rule 12.740 indicates a presumption that Family Mediation should be in person. If a mediation is to occur via communication technology, instead of in person, the Rule requires a court order or agreement of the parties to do so.
Appellate Committee
The Family Law Appellate Committee is co-chaired by Reuben Doupe’ of Naples and Matthew Thatcher of Tampa. Shannon McLin of the Villages is the Vice Chair. Jaime Girgenti of Clearwater is the Secretary.
The Appellate Committee seeks to improve the standard of practice in family law litigation through educating members of the family law section as to the preservation of error and presentation of issues for appellate review. Members of the Appellate Committee have published articles addressing appellate issues of interest to members of the Family Law Section.
One of the core functions of the Appellate Committee is to identify pending cases of importance to the Executive Council for consideration for the submission of Amicus Curae briefs on behalf of the Family Law Section.  Most recently the Appellate Committee successfully submitted an Amicus Curae brief which positively impacted the ruling issued by the appellate court in Enriquez v. Velazquez, 2022 WL 16646105 (5th DCA November 3, 2022). The Appellate Committee is open and receptive to the submission of pending cases for consideration where unique issues of law are presented in which the filing of an Amicus Curae brief on behalf of the Family Law Section may be warranted.
The Appellate Committee meets in person and remotely. The next scheduled meeting will be in conjunction with the Certification Review Course in January 2023. All individuals who are interested in the Appellate Committee or who may have a case which they want to present to the Appellate Committee for consideration of an Amicus Curae brief are encouraged to e-mail:
SPONSORS WANTED! If your business would like to reach nearly 4,000 Family Law professionals through our various communications platforms and in-person and virtual events, we invite you to consider Section sponsorship. To learn more about benefits and levels, email or click HERE to learn more.
WRITERS WANTED! Want to submit an article for our monthly FAMSEG e-news, or our quarterly magazine, The Commentator? We can always use Tech Tips, Case Law Updates, and other relevant news for our 4,000+ members. Just email for more information. Thank you for your interest in contributing to our member publications!