Welcome to our March edition of FAMSEG! I write this message after a very successful all-day CLE at the Sandestin Golf & Beach Resort on February 24. The turn-out was amazing – the in-person attendance was roughly double the attendance of our last CLE in the Panhandle in February 2020; and the webcast was seen by even more people. It is my humble suggestion to all future leaders of the Section to return to this part of the State again on a frequent basis!
I want to thank all of the speakers who lent their time and talent to this great event. We had the benefit of having Judge Stephen A. Pitre present to our participants on alimony; Judge Gary L. Bergosh on contempt and enforcement; and Judge David Oberliesen, co-presenting with Anthony Bisordi, Esq., on evidence. We had the additional benefit of these same judges leading a fantastic discussion with the audience on “Professionalism and Ethics,” which was moderated by Retired Judge Ross Goodman. Also joining us from the bench was Magistrate Keith A. McIver presenting on child support. We also had speakers who provided us with their perspective from the other side of bench, including Anthony S. Phillips, C.P.A. (on how to prepare your financial expert); Kristin Kirkner, Esq. (on military issues); Travis Johnson, Esq. (on equitable distribution), and Autumn Beck Blackledge, Esq. (on attorney’s fees). I want to extend a huge “THANK YOU!!!” to all of our speakers and also to all of our attendees who joined us for this CLE. IF YOU MISSED IT --- please be on the look-out for this CLE being made available on the Florida Bar’s website for your viewing pleasure (and of course, to bolster your CLE hours).
Our next major event as a Section will occur this month - Wednesday, March 22 through Saturday night, March 25 - when we head to our Out-of-State Retreat in Austin, Texas. Retreat Co-Chairs Aimee Gross and Cash Eaton have planned an amazing schedule of events for us! Our CLE program will be led by Section Trustee Elisha Roy, Esq., who will be speaking with local legal experts on the differences between Texas and Florida law with regard to property distribution and alimony. We will also go on a trip to the Texas State Capital & Bullock Museum, a boat ride to see the legendary BATS of Austin at dusk, and an Elle King concert at Austin City Limits Live! We will close our visit with an outstanding “End-of-Retreat Dinner” at Bob’s Steak & Chop House. Go to for more information regarding this outstanding Retreat – it’s not too late to register to attend!
Lastly, we are still collecting Committee Preference Forms - as well as Executive Council applications, Legislation Committee applications, and Section Secretary applications, for next year’s Section year starting in July. These forms can be found on the Section’s website and are DUE no later than Wednesday, March 15, 2023, at 5:00 p.m. 
I look forward to seeing you at an upcoming Section event!

Magistrate Philip S. Wartenberg
Chair, 2022-2023
Our Judicial Panel at the February Panhandle CLE - (L-R) Judge David Oberliesen, Judge Stephen A. Pitre, Ret. Judge Ross Goodman, Judge Gary L. Bergosh.
A reminder that your forms and applications are due on Wednesday, March 15, at 5PM!

If you are currently serving, we thank you for offering your time and expertise, and hope you will join us again for the 2023-2024 Bar cycle! If you have not yet served, we strongly encourage you to consider doing so!

Below you'll find links to download the forms, with instructions on the bottom of each. (NOTE: When opening the form it will automatically default to your Gmail-affiliated e-mail address; these are Google Docs.)

We can personally attest that active participation in the Section will greatly benefit you personally and professionally. We look forward to working with you during this upcoming year!

Thank you, and we look forward to working with you all!

Philip S. Wartenberg

Sarah E. Kay
12PM - 1PM
Everything Prenuptial Agreement
This course is designed to cover all aspects of prenuptial agreements from the initial client meeting to drafting, negotiating, and signing.


12:00 PM - 12:05 PM
Stacey Cohen, Fort Lauderdale

12:05 PM - 12:30 PM
Wedding Registry: Prenuptial Agreement
Laura Davis Smith, BCS, Coral Gables
Sonja A. Jean, Coral Gables

12:30 PM - 12:55 PM
Modern Anniversary GIft: Postnuptial Agreement
Sonja A. Jean
Laura Davis Smith

12:55 PM - 1:00 PM
Questions and Answers
Ashley Ballargeon, Winter Park 
March 22-26, 2023
Don't miss our on our Annual Out-of-State Retreat taking place in Austin, Texas at The Driskill Hotel March 22-26!

Register for the Retreat HERE.

Reserve your hotel room HERE.
12PM - 1:30PM
Best Practices in Family Law Mediation - Assisting Pre-Suit and the Self-Represented
The course will discuss practices used when conducting mediation pre-suit, self-represented litigants on one or both sides. It will include discussion of the process from engagement, the mediation process, writing and executing the agreement and completion of court forms. There will be discussion about the pros/cons of courthouse mediation & the differences of mediation by Zoom or in-person with or without an attorney.


12:00 PM – 12:10 PM
Yolanda L. Fox, Esq. , Fort Lauderdale

12:10 PM – 12:40 PM
Pre-Suit Mediation with Self-Represented Litigants
Kevin C. Lunsford, Live Oak

12:40 PM – 1:10 PM
Mediation with Self-Represented Litigants through Courthouse Mediation via Zoom and In-person
Deborah Pino, Esq., Sunrise

1:10 PM – 1:30 PM
Questions and Answers/ Closing Remarks
Yolanda L. Fox, Esq.
February CLE in the Panhandle
Co-Chairs: Andrea Reid, Esq. and Magistrate Beth Luna

The primary purpose of the Legislation Committee is to further the best interests of Florida’s families through the active involvement in the legislative process. This includes the creation and improvement of Florida’s statutes. The committee also provides technical assistance to legislators desiring to make changes to marital and family law. For the current legislative year, the Family Law Section’s Legislative Committee has assisted with Greyson’s Law, proposed alimony legislation, and legislation relating to unwed parents. With the help of sponsors Senator Berman and Representative Tant, the Section has been fortunate to have the Committee’s hard work on proposed legislation regarding support for dependent adult children filed this year in Senate Bill 226 and House Bill 813.
Minimizing Your Liability Crafting ED Schedules
By: Timothy C. Voit, Financial Analyst

Typically, retirement accounts and pensions in equitable distribution are either deferred (QDRO’d) or the values are offset. The issue with the latter is that often times family law attorneys forget to discount the value of the pension and/or 401(k) balance for income taxes. This can be a costly mistake.

For example, in a mediation I observed an attorney, who represented the plan participant, fail to account for income taxes on their client’s $500,000 401(k) balance. The attorney simply entered the balance from the 401(k) account statement into the Equitable Distribution Schedule. This is roughly a $100,000 mistake. Failing to account for taxes on a before-tax asset creates a liability. Plan administrators are required to withhold 20% for federal income taxes because the money was never taxed going into the plan. The exception is a ROTH component of a 401(k) or ROTH IRA, where after-tax contributions are made.

The issue of income taxes was recognized in the Diaz v. Diaz1 case, which also addressed the value of survivor benefits on a pension, for equitable distribution purposes, an issue reserved for a future discussion.

When preparing settlement agreements, or Final Judgments, it is advisable to address the issue of taxes on a 401(k) balance, IRA, or even DROP/BacDrop accounts, if the balances (values) of the assets are commingled with other marital assets, which are generally non-taxable. Remember, the purpose of a QDRO is not only to secure a former spouse’s share but to also transfer the tax liability so that the plan participant is not held accountable for the income taxes on both parties’ shares. Each spouse would then pay income taxes on their awarded share.

Lastly, child support is non-taxable to a custodial parent therefore if a custodial parent is assigned an amount from a 401(k) to pay off arrearages, pursuant to a QDRO, the amount should be grossed up 25% to account for the 20% withholding, OR have a CPA run a mock tax return to determine the actual tax liability, if there is an issue. Most plan administrators will assign the tax liability to an alternate payee unless the “alternate payee” is specifically a minor child.
1 Diaz v. Diaz 970 So. 2d 429 (Fla. App. 2007). See also Sharon v. Sharon, 862 So. 2d 789, 791 (Fla. 2d DCA 2003

Tim Voit of Voit Econometrics Group, Inc. prepares QDROs for attorneys in Florida and is retained in legal malpractice cases to fix QDROs or compute damages. Tim Voit provides expert witness testimony on QDROs and pension valuations, is the author of Retirement Benefits & QDROs in Divorce, and has been quoted in Forbes, BusinessWeek, NewsWeek on a variety of issues involving QDROs.
reMarkable 2
By: Jennifer L. Darley, Esq.

As our practices are becoming paperless, one of the last vestiges of our antiquated ways is our use of letter/legal pads to take notes during meetings, hearings, depositions, mediations, etc. As I have worked to become a paperless firm, I recognized that one of my largest uses of paper was for notes. As a result, a year ago, I made the jump from using pen and paper, to using an electronic notebook. I have not looked back.

As someone who already has a computer, smart phone, and other electronic devices, I wanted a device that was solely for note-taking. After researching my options, I came across the reMarkable 2, which was suggested by numerous colleagues.

What drew me to the reMarkable 2 was that it offered exactly what I sought, a distraction free alternative to pen and paper. I can take my notes and then share them by simply emailing them directly from the device to several emails or have them integrated into my cloud (e.g., Google Drive, DropBox, OneDrive). In addition to taking notes, the reMarkable 2 allows me to import documents into it so I can read them and annotate on them - which I have done during CLEs and other presentations. There is also the ability to synchronize the documents on my reMarkable 2 across my other devices. The writing experienced on the remarkable 2 has a very paper-like feel, and although it is a black-and-white device, it can export in color. Lastly, the reMarkable 2 is extremely cost effective, with a new device starting at only $299.00 (which is less than most of us charge for a billable hour).

After learning of all the pros of the reMarkable 2, I took the plunge and purchased it. I have been using my reMarkable 2 for a year and a half and have not used any pen and paper to take notes. The notes I take on my reMarkable 2 remain on my device and are accessible to me from the date of my first consultation with a potential client through the conclusion of their case. Once I have taken my notes, I take a few quick steps to send them to my team to review and begin working on any tasks. Having all of my notes from the inception of a case through the conclusion in one spot has been immensely helpful. I do not have to worry about my notes getting lost, misfiled, or disorganized. With my notes so easily accessible, I have been able to pull them up in an instant to answer questions from my colleagues and clients. One feature that may interest others, which I have yet to fully embrace, is the handwriting-to-text feature. With a simple selection, the reMarkable 2 will convert all my handwritten notes into text, which can be extremely helpful in mediations where I can write notes, convert them to text, and turn them into an agreement.

While the reMarkable 2 is my choice for paperless note-taking and annotating, it is not the only option out there and I encourage you to research and compare the different devices to meet your individual needs.

Jennifer L. Darley is a licensed attorney with the Florida Bar and practices in Central Florida with her firm, Jennifer L. Darley, P.A. Her practice is devoted to family law. Ms. Darley is not affiliated with nor own an interest in reMarkable and does not receive any compensation from reMarkable.
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!