Facebook  Instagram  LinkedIn  Twitter

A heartfelt thank you to Magistrate Philip Wartenberg for leading the Section last year. It is my honor and privilege to accept the gavel from him to lead the Section for this upcoming bar cycle which is the Section’s 50th anniversary year. The theme this year is investing in the next generation. We can celebrate this momentous milestone because the Section leadership before us has invested in us, the current leaders. And so we will continue this legacy by investing in the next generation so the Section can celebrate another 50 outstanding years.

We have witnessed the theme at work at the Sections’ awards and installation luncheon on June 21, 2023 where we celebrated past leaders, the installation of the current leadership, and recognized the next generation of leaders in the Section. 

Thank you to David L. Hirschberg, Sonja A. Jean, and Bonnie Sockel Stone, all recipients of the Executive Council Service Awards. All three have invested years of time, talent, and hard work into the Section and the Section is all the better for their investment. 

Congratulations to all the award winners including, but not limited to, the Keeper of the Flame recipient, Robin J. Scher, the Trailblazer Award recipient, Philip J. Schipani, the Jorge M. Cestero Distinguished Member Service Award recipient, Sonja A. Jean, The Honorable Raymond T. McNeal Professionalism Award recipient, Magistrate Barbara C. Goiran, and the Chair’s Award for Extraordinary Service, Kristin R. H. Kirkner. We are grateful for your many contributions to the Section.

The year is already off to a running start! Our first big event is the 2023 Trial Advocacy Seminar on July 13-16, 2023 at the JW Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes. Registration, Hotel Reservations, and Sponsorship links are all available, but there are only a few spots left and the room block rate is about to end. So, if you have not yet registered, now is the time. A special shout out to the all-star event chairs Julia Wyda, Chelsea Miller, and Amanda Tackenberg. They have done an outstanding job of creating a not-to-be-missed line-up of speakers, including Bar President Scott Westheimer, and workshop leaders of Board Certified attorneys, General Magistrates, and Judiciary.

Have you heard? The Section has included a black-tie optional 50th Celebration Gala during its Fall Meetings at The Ritz Carlton Beach Resort in Naples, FL on August 24-26, 2023. The Sponsorship link is available. Event tickets and hotel reservation links are coming soon – watch our website! A heartfelt thank you to Michelle Klinger-Smith who is chairing the gala event committee. The event will have a Roaring 20s theme, a live band, and a photo booth!

The Section will be venturing to Providence, Rhode Island on September 27-30, 2023 for our Out of State Retreat. We plan to have a tour of Newport, Rhode island and an afternoon at a local farm. Our speaker will be Meredith Stoddard, Group Team Lead – Awareness and Engagement with Fidelity Investments, who will educate on how we and our clients can plan for and navigate major life transitions – giving the year’s theme of investing in the next generation a financial spin. This event would not be possible but for the inspiration, dedication, and enthusiasm of the event co-chairs, Sarah Sullivan and Anya Cintron Stern. Event and hotel registration and sponsorship links will be forthcoming soon – keep watching our website!

Thank you to all who have invested in me – without your investments, I would not be where I am today. I humbly accept the gavel from Magistrate Wartenberg as a servant leader to continue the legacy of those who have come before me of investing in the next generation. Eleanor Roosevelt is credited as saying “For our own success to be real, it must contribute to the success of others.” So is the journey of The Family Law Section. Here’s to an amazing 50th year together.

Sarah E. Kay

Chair, 2023-2024


We thank Governor DeSantis for signing legislation into law that provides for commonsense modifications to alimony, including the elimination of permanent alimony and the preservation of the longstanding Pimm decision, which pertains to the effects of retirement on alimony awards.

Importantly, the section was grateful to have worked with the sponsors of this legislation during the 2023 session to ensure it would not negatively impact existing alimony awards or otherwise be harmful to Florida’s families.

Read the article from Florida Politics HERE.


House Bill 1301, Parenting and Time-sharing of Minor Children, has gone into effect as of July 1, 2023. 


The new law requires the court to evaluate all of the factors set forth in 61.13(3) and to make written findings of fact when modifying or creating a time-sharing schedule. 


Importantly, the new law creates a rebuttable presumption that equal time-sharing of a child subject to a Chapter 61 proceeding is in the best interests of that child. It also establishes that a party must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that equal time-sharing is not in a child's best interests in order to rebut this presumption.


Further, time-sharing schedules agreed to by the parties and approved by the Court do not require the court to evaluate and make written findings of fact as to all of the best interest factors set forth in 61.13(3); however, the court must make such written findings if there is no agreement by the parties.


The new law also creates a basis for modifying a parenting plan upon a parent's relocation to within 50 miles of the other parent's residence.


A link to the legislation can be found HERE.


Thurs., July 20, 12PM - 2PM EST

Don't miss our 2023 Legislative Update CLE, taking place on Thursday, July 20, from 12PM - 2PM EST, featuring an in-depth review of all legislation that passed in the 2023 Florida legislative session related to or touching upon marital and family law, including, dissolution of marriage, adoption, dependency, child support, parenting time, alimony, and the like. 2 CLE Credits.


12:00 PM – 12:05 PM

Opening Remarks and Introductions

William Norvell, West Palm Beach

12:05 PM – 12:40 PM

What Legislation Passed & What Didn’t Pass

Andrea Reid, Boca Raton

Kristi Beth Luna, Jacksonville

12:40 PM – 1:40 PM

Alimony Legislation and Timesharing Legislation

Andrea Reid

Kristi Beth Luna

1:40 PM – 1:50 PM

What to Expect in the Future

Andrea Reid

Kristi Beth Luna

1:50 PM – 2:00 PM

Questions/Closing Remarks

William Norvell



Fall Meetings & Our 50th Anniversary Gala

August 24-26 in Naples

Can you believe we're turning 50?! It's true, and we're planning an evening you won't want to miss on Saturday, Aug. 26, at the culmination of our Fall Committee Meetings in Naples (Aug. 24-26.)

The event is black-tie optional, and will include a reception, dinner, live music, and an array of fun Section shenanigans!

Sponsorship information is below, along with a tentative schedule of Committee Meetings and our Gala event.

Stay tuned and we can't wait to see you there!

Sponsorship opportunities can be found HERE.

Tentative Committee Meeting and Gala Schedules can be found HERE.


By: Cash A. Eaton, Esq.

Holland v. Holland, 2023 WL 2795670 (Fla. 5th DCA 2023).


The Holland opinion is an informative case from the Fifth District that addresses the use of expert witnesses in dissolution cases. The opinion discusses the exclusion of expert witness testimony at trial. In Holland, the trial court was affirmed in excluding the Former Wife’s forensic accountant but overturned for excluding the Former Wife’s treating physician from testifying as to her physical disability.


At the Former Wife’s deposition, she testified that, “[H]er expert would be giving opinion testimony regarding a lifestyle and accounting analysis of Former Wife's earnings and expenses.” Two weeks prior to trial, the Former Wife’s forensic indicated that he had not formulated any final opinions. The Former Husband moved to exclude his testimony, and the trial court excluded the Former Wife’s expert’s testimony due to the lack of a final opinion before trial. The Appellate Court affirmed the trial court’s exclusion of the forensic accountant.


The Former Wife also intended to have her treating physician, Dr. Bradley Tran, testify as to her physical disabilities that prohibited her from working. The Former Husband's primary argument to exclude Dr. Tran was that contained within Tran's medical records was the report of an abnormal nerve conduction test performed on another person, the otherwise unidentified “D.R.” Furthermore, Former Husband pointed out that the nerve conduction test performed on Former Wife was essentially normal. The Former Husband argued that there was an insufficient basis to support Dr. Tran’s disability opinion. The trial court agreed and excluded Dr. Tran’s testimony under Daubert.


The Appellate Court overturned the trial court’s exclusion of Dr. Tran’s testimony. It reasoned that, “Under the circumstances present in this case, the potential problems with the bases for Tran's disability opinion, such as considering the wrong patient's test results and failing to consider other available information, would have been proper fodder for an intense cross-examination of Dr. Tran, but they do not demonstrate a basis for disqualification under Daubert.” Therefore, the trial court abused its discretion in excluding Dr. Tran’s testimony.



The primary purpose of the Membership Committee is to identify members of The Florida Bar who practice family law, adoption, and related areas of practice. The Section also recruits non-attorney professionals to join the Section that include but are not limited to paralegals, Certified Public Accountants, and mental health professionals. The goal of the committee is to increase membership and facilitate education and knowledge of Family Law practice.

Did you know that the Section also offers a mentorship program? The Membership Committee oversees organizing and facilitating the mentorship program through the Section. If you are interested in either a mentee and/or mentor position, please reach out to the Membership Committee and we will help facilitate the mentorship program for you. If you are interested in learning more about the Section, the mentorship program and/or how to become more involved, please reach out to the Membership Committee at membership@familylawfla.org.


At the Annual Installation and Awards Luncheon, 2022-2023 Family Law Section Chair Phil Wartenberg presented a number of well-deserved awards to Section members. We congratulate each and every one of them and share in Magistrate Wartenberg's appreciation for their time, loyalty, dedication, and service to the Family Law Section this year and throughout many years! We're highlighting a few winners in each FAMSEG issue, starting with:


Kristin R. Kirkner


David L. Manz


Robin J. Scher


Sonja A. Jean


The Honorable Barbara C. Goiran


Philip J. Schipani


Congratulations to Family Law Section Trustee and inspirational Family Law leader, Maria C. Gonzalez, for receiving the Florida Bar Foundation's prestigious President's Award for Excellence! Gonzalez has served on the Foundation's board of directors since 2018 and is currently the chair of the Grants Committee. She is former recipient of our Section's Honorable Raymond T. McNeal Professional Award, and has held numerous leadership positions within the legal community. Gonzalez is a board certified marital and family law attorney in Miramar. Well deserved!


Did you know that our Section Sponsorship has grown over the years? We have received 8 times the number of sponsorships that we had 7 years ago! Join the movement!


THANK YOU to our 2022-2023 annual sponsors and NOW IS THE TIME TO RENEW YOUR SPONSORSHIP for 2023-2024. To learn more, click HERE.


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 publications@familylawfla.org for more information. Thank you for your interest in contributing to our member publications!