Editors: Lindsay B. Haber, Lindsay A. Gunia and Amanda P. Tackenberg
Hello! Summer is here!
June is a huge month for all Florida Bar Sections because we wrap up our Bar year with our final committee meetings and begin the new year with the installation of officers.

I hope to see you on June 17 at 12 PM when the Family Law Section holds our annual Membership Awards and Installation program. Usually, this event requires a ticket because space is limited. This year, we are trying something new, consistent with the Annual Convention proceeding remotely. Our program will be via Zoom and free to attend. Our logistics committee (Andrea Reid, Christopher Rumbold, Trace Norvell, and The Buzz Agency are working on some creative ideas). The program and details for registration should be posted soon. Please don’t hesitate to email me at Chair@familylawfla.org if you have any questions.

Last month I introduced the members of the Executive Committee and Executive Council who have been nominated for election. The other part of the program is recognition of Section members for their achievements during the past year. Each year, the Section Chair determines which awards will be given and to whom. The types of awards change from year to year. Last year, Abigail Beebe created the Jorge M. Cestero Distinguished Member Award. Jorge is a former Chair of the Family Law Section and past President of the Florida Chapter of the AAML. He has been a liaison for both groups over the years and was an excellent choice to have an award named after him. I’m really excited to announce the second recipient of this award in just a few weeks.

There are numerous awards presented but some of the other awards and recognitions include the Raymond T. McNeal Professionalism Award, the Alberto Romero Making A Difference Award, the Chair’s Award of Extraordinary Service, an Honorarium to an organization of that Chair’s choice, and acknowledging the newly Board Certified attorneys in Marital & Family Law. Attending this event is a great opportunity to see who we are and what we do for Florida’s families.

This Chair’s Message is my last submission. On June 17, I will become the Immediate Past Chair, beginning my fifth and last year as a member of the Executive Committee. It has been a privilege and an honor, and I appreciate you taking the time each month to read this newsletter. We really do try to provide information that is helpful, informative, and beneficial to all our members. Without Amanda Tackenberg, Lindsay Haber, Lindsay Gunia and the assistance of Eddie Stephens and The Buzz Agency, there would be no FAMSEG.

The Section is in great hands with our next Chair, Douglas A. Greenbaum. On June 17, he will tell us about his vision for the next year, including his theme and goals.

I hope to see you then!

-- Amy Hamlin, Section Chair
Congratulations to Dori Foster-Morales, the incoming President of The Florida Bar. Dori was a long-time Executive Council Member for the Family Law Section, and served as our BOG Liaison for many years. Dori is both Board Certified in Marital and Family Law by The Florida Bar and by the National Board of Trial Advocacy as a Family Law Trial Advocate. Additionally, she is also a Fellow in the American and International Academies of Matrimonial Lawyers, a Fellow and Member of the Florida Bar Foundation, a Fellow in the American Bar Foundation and a Fellow in the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers Foundation.

The swearing in will take place during the virtual Florida Bar Annual Conference on Friday, June 19 at 9AM. Learn more HERE.
The Florida Bar has asked Section members to participate in a very important survey that will impact your practice.  The Workgroup on Continuity of the Courts During and After Covid-19  as established by the Supreme Court of Florida needs your input on your experiences with remote court proceedings . 
The deadline for completing this survey is  Thursday, June 4, 2020.  
Thank you for your input and prompt attention to this important matter!
Wednesday, June 17, 12PM-2PM
With surveys showing the COVID-19 pandemic taking a toll on the nation’s mental health, Florida Bar leaders are accelerating the launch of a confidential  Florida Bar Mental Health Helpline.

“It is clear that our members are facing, as is all of society, a crisis of epic proportions,” said President-elect Dori Foster-Morales.

Beginning May 1, some 90,000 eligible Bar members will be able to dial the helpline (833-351-9355 or “833-FL1-WELL”) and speak with a mental-health professional who can provide crisis intervention and a referral for up to three free visits with a locally based, licensed mental-health professional. Given the current environment, members will be able to get tele-health therapy sessions until it is safe to go back to in-person sessions.

The service is provided through an agreement with CorpCare Associates, Inc., an Atlanta-based firm that boasts a network of 11,000 providers nationwide and some 200 providers in Florida, with plans to enroll more.

The Florida Lawyers Helpline also provides professionals to assist in other parts of the member’s life, such as case managers to help find long-term care facilities for family members; childcare specialists that can find and vet available centers or summer camps that have openings in the member’s area; or financial consultants for help getting out of debt, budgeting, and planning for retirement. All of these services are completely confidential and at no cost to eligible Bar members. CorpCare Associates has similar agreements with state bars in Maryland, South Carolina, and Georgia. Bar staff point out that the company’s extended reach means it can serve the large contingent of out-of-state Florida Bar members, too.

For additional information, CLICK HERE.
By Alexander Kranz, Esq. LMHC
I remember in college learning the stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance). While it’s important to know that grief is a process that takes time and patience, I’m always surprised at how little in comparison is written about dealing with grief.
Here are a few ideas:

1.        Accept It: Grief will find you no matter where you hide. Pain doesn’t take holidays. Attempts to ignore it will only delay the process.

2.        Get Support: The experience of grief is overwhelming and traumatic. The worst thing you can do in those situations is to isolate yourself and let your negative emotions (anger, frustration, hopelessness) get a hold of you. Reach out to trusted family and friends, clergy or professional counselors. It is not an admission of weakness to need help. Rather it is a statement of strength.

3.        Express It: Grief should not be internalized. It will get out no matter what. Try and express your emotions in a positive way that is life-affirming. It can be through art or poetry. It can be through tears and heartfelt conversations with others who you trust.

4.        Slow Down: Grief takes time and energy. It is normal to feel weak, tired and spent. Give yourself more time to do the normal every-day activities that seem so forced and difficult right now. You may even find that approaching your mundane daily activities with more mindfulness allows you to appreciate life just a bit more.

5.        Re-Connect: The experience of grief teaches us that life is temporary and that we should enjoy and appreciate what we have. So learn from that. Let your family and friends know how much you care about them. Get reacquainted with nature (long walks, days at the beach, hikes, etc.). The circle of life of which we are all a part is nowhere more evident than in nature with its varied and near-infinite forms of life.

6.        Remember: Remember the good times, even in your grief. Even the darkest days will be followed by a sunrise. This too shall pass and you will go on stronger and wiser.

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.   

By Christopher Taylor
Graduating from law school in December 1998, I was among the last group of people to become an attorney in the 20 th Century. In 1999, we dictated work product for administrative assistants who typed in a DOS based WordPerfect program. Much of our legal research involved the use of books. If a court filing was due, we ran it down to the clerk’s office to ensure timely filing. 

By the dawn of the 2020s, the practice of law had evolved considerably since 1999. Books were mostly gone (except Red Books). Electronic legal research, once a luxury item, was free. The 4:00 p.m. run to the clerk’s office was a distant memory. Most of the changes in the first decades of the 21 st Century were for the better, but they happened gradually. 

In March 2020, the comfort of gradual change ended abruptly. In a matter of weeks, rumblings of a virus in a distant part of the globe came to Florida and with it, radical changes most of us did not anticipate on January 1, 2020. We could foresee electronic hearings, but they seemed like something in the distant future, especially for a profession holding onto tradition longer than most. The ritual of putting on business attire, after most professions had abandoned such formal dress, and driving to the Courthouse for a short hearing was part of being an attorney.    
On Friday, March 13, 2020, the Florida Supreme Court issued a COVID-19 emergency order facilitating remote electronic proceedings, and the practice of law in the State of Florida was radically changed. Soon after, the Chief Judges of the circuit courts in which I practice issued orders shutting down in-person hearings for all but essential matters. In late-March, sitting in my home office, I was shell -shocked. How was I going to get a client much needed temporary support, set trials or conduct upcoming mediations? The answers were not clear in the early days of the pandemic.

By early April 2020, the term Zoom, an application I was unfamiliar with in early March 2020, became an integral part of the vocabulary of the practice of law. Zoom provided some hope. The first few mediations using Zoom, while different, were more effective than expected. Cases got resolved and the profession adapted quickly.

Rapid changes to any system typically happen during a crisis. In a span of less than two months, the Florida Supreme Court released guidance on best practices for practicing remotely for attorneys and courts. Courts throughout the state, at varying rates, have begun to adopt procedures for remote hearings via video conferencing software.  

Remote court appearances, client meetings and mediations have become the new normal. When the pandemic subsides, will we go back to the way things were or will the practice of law be changed forever? In a recent Family Law Section, “Ask the Judges” session on Zoom both judges indicated they foresee Zoom hearings continuing following the COVID-19 pandemic. The tragedy of the pandemic has given us the opportunity to remake the legal system for the benefit of the courts, practitioners, and clients.  

Is a twenty to forty-minute drive to the courthouse necessary for a short motion hearing when we can easily appear by video conferencing software? Remote appearances for simple matters will save time, money, and conserve judicial resources. In addition to conserving resources, remote court appearances are good for the environment by reducing C02 emissions from our long commutes to the courthouse.

COVID-19 changes have the potential to create business opportunities for family law attorneys. Parties with complex Hague Convention issues in West Florida may be able to hire attorneys or mediators in Miami who regularly handle Hague Convention issues. An attorney in South Florida may take cases in Central Florida if trips to the courthouse are reduced. With less geographic restrictions, an office in Boca Raton might hire a paralegal who resides in Vero Beach.

Less geographic constraints can potentially enhance the personal lives of attorneys. An attorney with elderly parents in another state could relocate temporarily out-of-state to look after his or her parents while maintaining a practice in Florida. How about escaping the August heat spending a month in a cooler location while working full-time?     
The COVID-19 tragedy presents new opportunities to remake the profession. There are many details to resolve involving changes to rules, privacy concerns and practice management, but we are unlikely to go back to the pre-pandemic normal. 
Christopher Taylor practices family law in Saint Augustine and the Jacksonville Metropolitan Area.    
For the latest COVID-related legal updates from The Florida Bar, please continue to check their Information and Resources web page.

We are also sharing information via our social media channels (check out our Facebook Live video series featuring FLS members with helpful tips and insight on a variety of relevant topics) so we invite you to connect with us on  Facebook,   Twitter  and LinkedIn , if you haven't already .

Feel free to reach out to any member of the Executive Council or Executive Committee if you need support or if you have questions about your practice. Our contact information can be found  HERE.  
Support the Family Law Section with a  S ignature Annual Sponsorship  to showcase your firm or business and connect with our nearly 4,000 professional members. 

For info on our  additional Sponsorship Levels , please feel free to email  Matt Lundy , Sponsorship Committee Co-Chair. 

We truly appreciate each and every one of our sponsors! Thank you for helping our committed volunteers as we work on supporting the FLS mission!