CHAIR'S MESSAGE
Welcome to our May edition of FAMSEG! 

I am looking forward to our Annual Meetings in June (more on that in a second). Before I get to that, let me say how excited I am to announce that Tenesia Hall has been nominated as the 2023-2024 Secretary of the Executive Committee. I congratulate Tenesia and the entire slate of family law practitioners who have been nominated (and in some instances, re-nominated) to serve on our Executive Council: Yanae Barroso, Jamie Epstein, Magistrate Barbara Goiran, Lindsay Gunia, Ronald Kauffman, Michael Mendoza, Jennifer Patti, Sarah Sullivan, and Tova Verchow. The Section is very fortunate to have these great leaders join our already outstanding Executive Council, with whom I have thoroughly enjoyed working with this past year.
 
Please make sure to mark your calendars for our Section’s Annual Meetings at the newly restored Boca Raton (formerly the Boca Raton Resort & Club). Our Committee Meetings and Annual Awards and Installation Luncheon will be held on Wednesday, June 21, 2023. Our Executive Council Meeting will be held starting the next morning on Thursday, June 22, 2023. These meetings take place in conjunction with the 2023 Annual Florida Bar Convention. Please make sure to secure your ticket for the Awards & Installation Luncheon, where Sarah Kay will be sworn in as the next Chair of the Section for the 2023-2024 Bar Year!
 
I would be remiss if I did not mention the important and very hard work over the past several months by Magistrate Beth Luna and Andrea Reid in leading our Section’s Legislation Committee during a particularly active session. With the Legislative Session now entering its final days, we anticipate that Beth and Andrea, along with our fantastic Section lobbyist Lisa Hurley, will have plenty to report on once the Legislative Session ends and we await the Governor’s final action on quite a few pieces of legislation. Be on the lookout for our annual Legislative Update CLE- to be announced soon – this year’s CLE will be one you will not want to miss.
 
Lastly, please check out this issue for information regarding events scheduled to take place once Sarah’s year as Section Chair begins. Most notably, we are accepting scholarship applications for our upcoming Trial Advocacy Seminar in July, which will be held at the JW Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes. The applications are due on May 15. This event routinely sells out (as it is limited to 80 registrants), so don’t delay in signing up!
 
That’s all I have for my penultimate Chair’s Message. I hope to see you all at an upcoming Section event!
 
Magistrate Philip S. Wartenberg
Chair, 2022-2023
2023-24 SLATE OF EXECUTIVE COUNCIL MEMBERS AND SECRETARY NOMINATION ANNOUNCED
The Family Law Section has announced its slate of incoming Executive Council members and Secretary nomination for 2023-24, to be voted on by Section members at the Section's Annual Meeting, Wednesday, June 21, 2023 during The Florida Bar Annual Convention in Boca Raton:

Secretary:
Tenesia Hall

Executive Council:
Yanae Barroso
* Jamie Epstein
* Barbara Goiran
Lindsay Gunia
* Ronald Kauffman
Michael Mendoza
Jennifer Patti
* Sarah Sullivan
# Tova Verchow

* Designates an existing EC member who is nominated for another term (expiring 2026)
# Designates an applicant assuming the remainder of the EC term for Ms. Hall (expiring 2025)

Congratulations to each of these amazing Section members and we look forward to seeing you all in June!
READY. SET. CONNECT!
The Florida Bar Annual Convention & Section Annual Meetings
June 21-24, 2023 in Boca Raton
The Florida Bar Annual Convention is June 21-24 at the spectacular The Boca Raton resort. Click below to register and for the entire meeting schedule, and be sure to mark your calendars for the Family Law Section's committee meetings and Annual Awards & Installation Luncheon (Wed., June 21), and Executive Council meeting (Thurs., June 22).

This is always a sold out event, so reserve your room(s) today!
CALL FOR SECTION PHOTOS/MEMORABILIA
We're planning a special celebration for the Family Law Section's 50th birthday later this year, and we're asking members to send along any Section photos, videos or other materials you may have collected over the years, particularly those that are more than 5 years old.

Please send your pictures or videos to familylawsection@thebuzzagency.net with the subject line 'FAMILY LAW 50."

More information on the celebration to come so stay tuned!
TRIAL ADVOCACY WORKSHOP IS JULY 13-16, 2023
Scholarship Application Deadline is Wed., May 15 at 5PM EST
Register now (before it sells out!) for our bi-annual Trial Advocacy Workshop, taking place at the JW Marriott Grand Lakes Hotel in Orlando, Thursday, July 13 - Sunday, July 16, 2023.

The Family Law Section has five (5) needs-based scholarships and one (1) diversity based scholarship valued at $800 each for individuals to attend this truly valuable series. The application deadline is Wednesday, May 15, 2023 at 5:00PM and the application form is below.
RULES UPDATE
Rules 12.530 and 1.530
On April 27, 2023, the Florida Supreme Court issue yet another opinion amending Rule 12.530 (and Rule 1.530, as well). 

In August, the Court issued an opinion that now requires motions for rehearing to be filed pursuant to both of those rules, in order to preserve any objections as to insufficient trial court findings in a final judgment order. Its latest opinion, In Re: Amendments to Florida Rule of Civil Procedure 1.530 and Florida Family Law Rule of Procedure 12.530, was entered after a 75-day window that had been provided by the Court for interested parties to file comments on the amendments. 

After consideration of the comments received, the Court made one additional change. Specifically, it stated, “we further amend rules 1.530 and 12.530 by replacing ‘sufficiency of a trial court’s findings in the final judgment’ in subdivision (a) (Jury and Non-Jury Actions) of both rules with ‘failure of the trial court to make required findings of fact.’” (Emphasis added).

The Court went on to state: “This change makes both rules applicable to all orders, not just final judgments, and makes clear that the rules apply only when a judge is required to make specific findings of fact and not when a party seeks to make other challenges to a trial court’s order.”

A link to the opinion is HERE.
TECH TIPS
Co-Parenting Communication App Review:
Our Family Wizard vs. Talking Parents
By: Yanae Barroso, Esq.

Our Family Wizard and Talking Parents seem to be leading the pack in co-parenting communication apps. However, you may be wondering what features does each app offer? How do they differ from one another? Which app is better for my client? Below are some answers to those questions!

What is Our Family Wizard and Talking Parents? 
Both apps offer a way for separated parents to communicate in writing with each other concerning their children. The form of communication is similar to text messages and emails, except the messages cannot be deleted, altered, or manipulated, providing a reliable record of communications between parties. Over the years, these apps have become very popular in family law matters, with more and more family court judges ordering the parties to communicate via said apps. 
 
Our Family Wizard ("OFW") highlights
  • Secure messaging stored on OFW's server
  • Time-stamped messaging 
  • Innovative technology that can detect a negative tone within a party's message to encourage the party to communicate more positively (to my knowledge, this feature is not offered on Talking Parents)
  • Shared calendar
·     Expense tracking and capability to pay reimbursements through the app
  • Information sharing features such as photo sharing, GPS locations, and an "Info Bank" to store important information about the children, such as medical records 
  • Access for third parties, such as attorneys and guardian ad litems, to review communications and information sharing between parents (to my knowledge, this feature is not offered on Talking Parents)
  • Prices start at $144 per year per parent
 
Talking Parents ("TP") highlights
  • Secure messaging
  • Time-stamped messaging
  • Shared calendar
  • Expense tracking and capability to pay reimbursements through the app
  • Personal storage space for videos, photos, and other files
  • Personal journal feature for note keeping not viewable by the other parent
  • Photo and file sharing
  • Basic package is free, with upgraded packages starting at $9.99 per month per parent
 
Key differences between the apps
  • Our Family Wizard allows access for third parties and monitors the tone of messages between the parties, while Talking Parents does not (to the best of my knowledge) 
  • Talking Parents offers a free package, while Our Family Wizard does not (to the best of my knowledge)
 
Which app is better for my client?
Both apps are excellent resources for co-parents and family law professionals. Determining which app is better for your client or case depends on your preferences and needs, considering which features would benefit the family and financial considerations. There is no question that nearly every family with children who is going through a family law matter could likely benefit from either app.
MONEY TALK:
The Difference Between Restricted Stock Options and Stock Options
By: Timothy C. Voit, Financial Analyst

Family Law attorneys will at times during their careers encounter stock options and restricted stock options (RSUs) in their cases, without a full understanding of the potential values or differences between stock options and RSUs. Even some experts may not completely understand the true value of stock options and only consider the intrinsic value. This is a primer about the difference between stock options and restricted stock options.

Stock options that are granted to an employee give the employee the right to purchase company stock at (hopefully) a far lesser price per share (exercise price) than the prevailing share price, referred to as being “in the money”, resulting in an instant profit. Courts have recognized options granted during the marriage as marital assets or for purposes of income if they are “in the money”. However, the fact that an option is not “in the money” does not mean it has no value. There is an expiration date associated with a stock option, which then, based on certain valuation models that gauge certain probabilities of being “in the money”, are used to determine the value. Options granted during the marriage, but not “in the money”, still have value, but the value will be based on the time to expiration and the volatility of the stock. For example, a share of stock might be $20/share but the exercise price might be $25/share (“out of the money”), but there might be 2 years until expiration. If the share price is volatile, e.g. $10/share to $30 share, in terms of trading range, there is two years for it to be “in the money”. Based on a valuation model like Black Scholes, the value of the option might be $2.00/share, even if it is out of the money.

Some confusion may arise if the attorney views the vesting date for the option as a determining factor in equitable distribution, when it is not the vesting date, but rather the grant date that defines which options or RSUs are marital. Still some courts use a variation of a coverture fraction to define what is marital, but vesting is not the issue. Where it can create a problem is, like a pension, if it is to be divided in the future.

Restricted Stock options are when a company gives an individual actual shares of stock based on a vesting schedule, or once vesting is complete, not just an option to purchase stock. They need not be purchased, whereas stock options involve someone purchasing the stock, or option to purchase, up to a specific date. RSUs and stock options are often awarded as an incentive to remain with a company and to provide added compensation. Stock options can be worthless, if the share price never increases but RSUs, represent actual shares of stock and always retain some value based on the stock’s share price (assuming the shares have value). 

Grant dates are key when determining what is considered marital versus a non-marital asset, NOT vesting dates. As with retirement plans, vesting is not an issue if the benefits are already earned. 

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.
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