Editors: Lindsay B. Haber, Lindsay A. Gunia and Amanda P. Tackenberg
Now that it’s May, we’re at the cusp of Summer. We wait for the school year to end and look forward to our summer plans. School will still end but, for many of us, our summer plans are up in the air.

So much thought went into the Spring, In-State Retreat which was to take place this month at The Resort at Longboat Key Club in Sarasota. Group activities would have been a harbor cruise, time spent at The Ringling, and dinner at Marina Jacks. The CLE was to have been presented by Florida Lawyers Assistance about compassion fatigue (just in time for Mental Health Awareness Month). Unfortunately, the chairs for this Retreat, Matthew Lundy, Jeannette Genova, and Anthony Genova, made the decision to cancel the event due to the epidemic. We were saddened by the turn of events but knew there was no other option. The site visit we took in November, 2018 was one of the most fun times I have ever had. I am thankful for those memories, and I am grateful that I was able to get to know some really good people even better.

But, as with everything, we look ahead and move forward. Last week, the Florida Chapter of the AAML held their annual Institute. They did a great job transforming what is typically a day and a half live, in-person event, to a Zoom conference; I am sure I was not the only one who attended sitting at a dining room table. It was a fantastic program with excellent speakers. I congratulate the Institute committee, Laura Davis Smith, Bonnie Sockel-Stone, Shannon Novey, Joe Hunt, and Caryn Green for a job well done. I also congratulate Mark Sessums being sworn in as the new Florida Chapter AAML President!

The Family Law Section is also about to transition to its new officers. The Bar year begins July 1 and below is the nominated slate of Executive Committee and Executive Council officers that will be presented for election next month. Plans are already being made for the next year and Douglas Greenbaum, who will be Chair of the Family Law Section in about six weeks, is in the final stages of emailing his Committee appointment letters.

I love the CBS Sunday Morning show and look forward to watching it each week. Last month there was a segment about leadership. One of the people profiled was Stanley McChrystal, a retired four-star general. After one if his classes, a lady came up to him and gave him a quote that he still uses, “People will forgive you for not being the leader you should be, but they won't forgive you for not being the leader you claim to be.'” His message, leaders need to be genuine.

We are leaders in our practices, communities, social clubs, schools, etc. Now more than ever, it’s so important to be patient, kind, forgiving, supportive, and definitely genuine. To past, present, and future leaders all over the State – thank you.

Please be well and safe!

-- Amy Hamlin, Section Chair
The Nominating Committee met recently to vote on the slate of officers to be nominated for Executive Council terms expiring in 2024; Executive Committee Secretary; and Executive Council term that will be vacated by the Secretary.

The following FLS members will be submitted to the Section and elected by acclamation at the Section’s annual meeting in June:

Executive Council, Terms Expiring 2024:
Shannon McLin Carlyle
John W. Foster
Anthony M. Genova
Belinda Barndollar Lazzara
Kristi Beth Luna
Jack Arthur Moring
Michelle Klinger Smith
Amanda P. Tackenberg

Secretary : Sarah E. Kay

Executive Council, Term Expiring 2021: William “Trace” Norvell
The Family Law Section Legislative Committee Co-Chairs will discuss the results of the 2020 Legislative session, including new laws passed, bills introduced which were not passed, practice pointers in light of the results and more.

DATE: Thursday, May 14, 12PM - 2 PM

COURSE: 3453

CREDITS : 2 CLE Credits, Marital & Family Law

12:00 PM – 12:05 PM
Opening Remarks and Introductions
Jennifer Miller-Morse, Esq. Delray Beach, FL

12:05 PM – 1:35 PM
Latest Statutory Changes
David Hirschberg, Esq., Boca Raton, FL
Jack Moring, Esq., Crystal River, FL

1:35 PM – 1:50 PM
Potential Future Statutory Changes Based on Bills Introduced
David Hirschberg, Esq., Boca Raton, FL
Jack Moring, Esq., Crystal River, FL

1:50 PM – 02:00 PM
Closing Remarks/Questions
Jennifer Miller-Morse, Esq. Delray Beach, FL
The Continuing Legal Education Committee is a Standing Committee of the Family Law Section of The Florida Bar.

Chaired by Trisha Armstrong and Jennifer Miller-Morse, this committee swung into action as the COVID-19 pandemic had family law attorneys looking for resources and updated information to help them navigate through new procedures.

This committee plans, schedules and produces all Section CLE programs and has also been responsible recently for hosting several Facebook Live seminars designed to help members with issues related to the post-Coronavirus family law world.

Read more below about the next series of Facebook Live seminars covering important and relevant topics of the day.👇
Practical Tips for Managing Your New Level of Stress

Tues., May 5 at 5PM

It's a stressful 'new normal,' no doubt. Join us LIVE as Alexander Kranz, Esq./LMHC shares practical tips to help you and your team manage this new level of stress.
ZOOM Hearings:
With Judge Susan Stacy and Judge Frank Ledee

Fri., May 8 at 12PM

Get practical advice on how to adapt your Courtroom practice to a video-based practice, during this LIVE discussion with 18th Circuit Court Judge Susan Stacy and 17th Circuit Court Judge Frank Ledee.
Real Estate (and Divorce) During the Coronavirus

Wed., May 13 at 12PM

The game has changed. Real estate, particularly during a divorce, is always a hot topic, but even more so now. Join us LIVE as Kwaku Mitchell, REALTOR® and Certified Divorce Real Estate Expert (CDRE) helps navigate this topic.
The Florida Bar Family Law Section's annual Alberto Romero Making a Difference Award recognizes the work of Section members, including judges and affiliates, who have provided outstanding pro bono services, and otherwise engage in significant volunteer community activities that improve the lives of Florida's children and families.

Recent recipients of this distinguished award include Eddie Stephens of West Palm Beach (2017), Sarah Sullivan of Jacksonville (2018), and Harriet Williams of Tallahassee (2019).

The Chair, on behalf of the Family Law Section of The Florida Bar, presents the Alberto Romero Making a Difference Award at the annual awards and installation luncheon at The Florida Bar Annual Convention in June. 

If you know someone who deserves to be recognized for their pro bono and community service work, please nominate them! Applications are due by May 31, 2020 , and can be found HERE.

Submit your nominations or email any questions you may have to Robin Scher .
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 Eddie Stephens, Esq.
Eaton v. Eaton, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D674 (Fla. 1 st  DCA 2020). Rehearing required when judge’s ruling is different than oral pronouncement to preserve appeal. Distinguished from Fox, which eliminates necessity to file rehearing when Court fails to make a required statutory finding.
By Marty Elberg
As we head into Summer 2020 and hopefully out of the pandemic, it is time to take a look at what you have accomplished this year in your personal and professional life in the face of what the world has been through. If you wrote down a few goals at the beginning of the year and forgot about them, take them out and dust them off. It’s time to adjust them for the rest of the year. If you didn’t write any down, write a few that you can accomplish by the end of the year.  

Now, get to work on one of the goals. Break your goal into small steps. In fact, make the step so small that you know you will be able to accomplish it. Then add a little bit to the first step every day.

For example, if you want to achieve an Ultimate Challenge of running/walking a 5k by December 31, 2020, you can start walking for ONE minute. I think we can agree, almost everyone can walk one minute. You have almost 9 months (approximately 210 days) to prepare. If you add TEN seconds every day, you will be up to 36 minutes after the 210 days. Add a few minutes of running in the mix and you can finish that 5k in at least 46 minutes. If this is something you want to do, look for a 5k in your area and sign up for it. Ask a couple friends to join you.

You can apply the steps above to your goal and put a note in your calendar on the day you will be complete with whatever you are going to accomplish.

The ultimate challenge goal is one thing. Who you become in the process is another: one who is dedicated to a healthy lifestyle; one who sticks with a plan; one who can accomplish anything by taking small steps toward the goal.

Also, if you are up for an ultimate challenge that includes exercise and you stick with your plan, you will have other areas of your life that will work better. You will have less stress; your diet will get better because you will crave healthier food; your rest will be better and on and on.

Now get out there and do that little bit toward your goal. Even if we are still facing a pandemic, we can work on what we can control so adjust your goals accordingly. I would love to hear what goal you chose and what plan you put in place. Let me know what you are up to by emailing me HERE .

P.S. Just so you know, I am not a runner and haven’t been for a long time. A few months ago, a couple bucket listers wanted to run a 5k. At first, I said no, but then decided to make it an ultimate challenge. I started out barely being able to run a half of a mile. I added ÂĽ of a mile every week, only running twice a week, until the day of the race. I ran the 5k (3.2 miles) in 30 minutes. This is something I never thought I would do and hadn’t since I was in my 20s. I am 51 now and have lost nearly 40 pounds of fat since starting this Bucket List life less than 2 years ago and several ultimate challenges under my belt. Get out there and move.
By Natalie Baird

(A special thanks to the Honorable Wesley
Tibbals of the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit for his helpful Zoom tips.)
I had never heard of Zoom before the COVID-19 pandemic began. As a full-time mediator, I was stressed and worried about my practice, especially given that each day the restrictions were becoming more limited as to what businesses/activities were “essential” and the number of people dying with the infection. 

Luckily, a good friend/mediator in my area found an attorney that had been doing online mediations for over five years, including through Zoom. I went into action and took one of her seminars. I also contacted our administrative family law Judge in my circuit to get any direction as to how to handle situations and to help answer attorney’s questions that I was flooded with at my mediations. 

This article will give you information on how to navigate Zoom video conferencing platform in Court proceedings, whether it is a hearing, an injunction, a mediation, a deposition, or any other type of Court proceedings.

Setting Up

Setting up Zoom prior to your hearing, mediation or the like is important to achieve the best results. Each participant will need to download the Zoom application. They will need a device with a camera (i.e. laptop, tablet, iPad, webcam, phone, etc.). Have them use their real name for login. It will help the mediator and/or Judge know who is who when each participant logs into the meeting. 

Before the meeting, the host (i.e. Judge, mediator, or attorney) will send an ID code or link to join the meeting. Once joined, you may view via a gallery view, where everyone can be seen that is appearing at the proceeding or speaker view which will bounce from person to person depending on who is speaking. Best practice is to make sure you are muted when you enter the proceeding until it is time for you to speak. 

Note that if you are on speaker view, Zoom will enlarge the person speaking or the person where any noise heard at the location may be in. For instance, if a dog barks or a doorbell rings, that person will appear in the largest view at the hearing. Depending on your Judge, this may become annoying. To avoid these issues, click on “Gallery View” at the top of your screen and mute your screen at the bottom once the meeting is started. 

Make sure that the camera is straight on you and your client’s face (versus above or below). The Judge or mediator will need to be able to see the participant speak. I have my laptop on a large box so that I am viewed straight on when I begin my Zoom sessions. I have had several mediations where I can see up someone’s nostrils—not an enjoyable sight for a long day of mediation. Also, make sure there is no lighting behind you. If there is a light behind the participant, this makes the participants face dark. Best practice is to have light directly in front of your face (i.e. placing a lamp in front of your device often will cure this issue). My desk/laptop is facing my window. 

Also, make sure the device is not too far away. Judges want to hear and see your client’s when speaking. As a mediator, is important for me to hear the parties clearly during the mediation. Obviously, during depositions this is vital to a good record. 

There is an option of virtual backgrounds. I have heard mixed reviews regarding virtual backgrounds from many who use Zoom. I am set up for my mediations in my home and there is a picture of me and my daughter in the background. Regardless of whether you choose one of the virtual backgrounds that Zoom offers or you make your own, make sure it is not distracting for your host. For hearings, I would avoid virtual backgrounds. Sometimes virtual backgrounds may cause a participant to have body parts disappear while speaking. I have personally only seen one half of someone’s face because of a virtual background.

Prepare Your Clients in Advance

Practicing a Zoom session with your client prior to the proceeding preemptively creates success. Explain to your client they will need to practice a Zoom session in the location they intend to be for the Zoom proceeding. That way, you can see the background and what a Judge may see before your proceeding. Also, tell your clients to dress in courtroom attire. This has been across the board one of many Judges pet peeves during Zoom proceedings. 

If it is possible, ask other family members to avoid large data usage (i.e. game streaming, video streaming, etc.) during the hearing or mediation. Have your client check to see if they have at least 2MBPs of bandwidth internet speed to avoid “freezing” or interrupted sessions. This will ensure a good internet connection. 

Explicitly tell your clients that he or she should not be in their bed or walking around if using their phone while in the Zoom session. This is another pet peeve that Judges view as unprofessional. 

Assure your client has privacy and that children and/or third parties are not walking into the room of the Zoom proceeding or listening to the proceeding.  This will allow your host, whether a Judge, mediator, or attorney to have your client’s undivided attention for the best outcome of the proceeding. 

Tell your client to make sure their TV is turned off and to turn off any background noise in or near their room (dryers, dishwashers, etc.) Ear buds may also serve well during Zoom sessions if they are able to use them. Large earphones may be a little distracting to the viewers. Make sure you and your client silence all notifications. During my first Zoom mediation I had numerous notification sounds that came through because of my Outlook. I quickly made sure the sound was turned off for all my programs/apps while in Zoom conferences. Judges will request that notification sounds are turned off during the proceeding. Also, make sure you tell your client to silence their phones. 

If you and your client are sharing a laptop, it will be difficult for the Judge to be able to see both you and your client due to the limitations of the camera on one device. It is preferable for you and your client to have separate devices so the Judge or Mediator can see you both. If you choose to have two devices in the same room/location, you will experience echoing and feedback noises. You will need to mute one of the devices so that the echoing and feedback noises stop. Best success in my mediations have been to have each person in a separate location with their device. 

Make sure you tell your client if they are testifying, they will not be allowed to look at notes or any other type of documents. You will be able to refresh their recollection by sharing of documents in the Zoom conference if necessary and they will be able to view said documents on the screen. 

The Proceeding

The greatest surprise about Zoom is that there are so many options for each meeting. I am able to have a waiting room where everyone signs on and no one can see the others. In addition, I have break out rooms which allow each attorney and their respective client to be in the same room. During break out rooms, I, as the host, cannot hear anything which is being said in the rooms. Just as if you ask me to leave an in-person mediation where we the caucus. Most judges have the same options if they have the Pro version o (or higher) of Zoom. Similarly, if you ask to speak to your client during the hearing, the Judge will assign you to a breakout room and the Judge will not be able to hear anything you say. The only way anyone can hear what is said in your breakout room is if the host (mediator, Judge, etc.) is in the breakroom and you can see them on your screen. 

Make sure you remind you clients to mute their screen by clicking on the bottom “mute” button when entering the main room with the Judge. There is nothing more distracting than hearing a doorbell ring, dog barking, toilet flushing, kid screaming, etc. during the hearing where everyone can hear. 

Zoom also has a chat feature. This will allow the attorney and client to chat so long as that option is allowed by the host. You can also alert the Judge when you are finished in the breakout room by sending a chat message to the Judge. The Judge can also chat with you in your breakout room and to have you join the main proceeding. Make sure when you chat you select your client and not the “judge” or “everyone” as whoever is selected in the dropdown will be able to see the chat. 

Sharing documents during a proceeding is very easy. You simply click on “share screen” which is on the menu line of you or your client’s screen. Frequently, equitable distribution worksheets and drafts of a marital settlement agreement are shared in my mediations. If there is an evidentiary hearing, many Judges may ask you to send documents via a Dropbox link. 

One of the pitfalls is speaking when another person speaks with Zoom. During a Zoom meeting, you cannot hear another participant when speaking at the same time. Alert your clients that if there is an objection, they should stop speaking immediately otherwise it will be impossible to have a record and the court reporter will not be able to type all testimony or argument. 

Avoid eating, drinking, typing, and other activities during the Zoom. All participants should have their full attention during the session.  There are other nifty features such as raising of the hand and other emojis if you would like to address the Court. Talk to your client about not using these during hearings but let them know you have the capability to address the Court. 

Last Tidbits

I Zoomed with our administrative family law Judge, the Honorable Wesley Tibbals, for some tips he is using in his Courtroom which may be helpful. Such as, “ dress like you are going to Court, have a stable internet connections, use your real name when logging into Zoom, be as still as possible while speaking and waiting to speak, do your best to have a non-distracting background, have the camera face you straight on and avoid leaning in or away from the camera, be aware of your microphone and audio set up and mute your microphone unless you are speaking, slow your pace of speech, avoid speaking over others, avoid typing, eating, drinking during the conference, do your best to ensure privacy during the conference .” [1]

These are listed on his website. In addition, each Judge has their own set of guidelines and/or rules regarding hearings being conducted via Zoom. Many Judges also have the Pro Plan for Zoom which allows breakout rooms as discussed above.  Some Judges may only be hearing emergency hearings and non-evidentiary or simple evidentiary matters (i.e. uncontested final hearings, UMC motions, Summary Judgments, etc.). Checking your Judges website is a good resource or emailing their Judicial Assistant. Judge Tibbals has provided a telephone/electronic Order template on his website due to COVID19 for request to appear via Zoom. 

Also during our Zoom conference, he assured that hearings are NOT recorded and any chat conversations which occur between client and attorney are deleted (which are not seen by the Judge during breakout rooms with the client and attorney). Several districts have new Administrative Orders which have been issued related to family law matters and therefore, with the goal that each district has a unified approach to how hearings and cases are heard via Zoom. Many Judges are continuing to provide their specific rules and guidelines regarding Zoom hearings that will be a valuable guide to the existing COVID19 stay at home orders and as it relates to hearings. 

Lastly, there are concerns regarding privacy and whether the proceeding is secure. There are several options for the Zoom host to assure that screen sharing is restricted only to those the host allows (the host can click share screen, advance sharing options, then click on who can share their screen). In addition, precluding anyone from coming into the meeting that was not an invited participant can easily be accomplished as well (click manage participants, more, lock meeting). Make sure you use a password for all Zoom meetings and invites. This allows a layer of security so that it is more difficult for hackers to enter your meeting.

Natalie Baird is a licensed attorney with the Florida Bar and practices in Tampa, Florida with her firm, Natalie Baird Mediations, PA. She is a Board Certified Family Law attorney in marital and family law. She also is a Florida Supreme Court mediator. Her practice is devoted to dispute resolution including mediation and collaborative divorce. If questions regarding this article or the Zoom platform, contact her HERE.

[1] A HUGE thank you to Judge Tibbals for leading our circuit very early on with Zoom conferencing and also for giving me tips that he shares for his Court proceedings.

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!