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CHAIR'S MESSAGE

Thank you to all who gathered in Naples for the Section’s fall meetings and 50th anniversary celebration. I can’t think of a better way to commemorate the occasion than Kelly St. Claire’s Ode to the 50th Anniversary Weekend:

 

We got together once again for meetings in the fall. 

We met in our committees, good work was done by all. 

 

The first day we spent many hours to get our tasks all done. 

Then it was time for Reuben’s house to cut loose for some fun. 

 

The second day at breakfast we heard a loud alarm. 

“Walk safely to the exit so that you don’t come to harm. “

 

They found there was no danger so we were let back in

Just in time to grab our food for EC to begin. 

 

So finally, with the business done we left the meeting space. 

And lathered up with sunscreen on arms and chest and face.

 

Some went to the other Ritz that had the waterslide.

While others hit the pool or beach ‘cause they were just outside.

 

We came together at the end to celebrate our past. 

Fifty years of section work and wow it was a blast. 

 

So much hard work from all the friends who knew just what to do.

But we could not have done it all without the money crew.

 

Golden sponsors started off with gifts that led the night.

Smolin and GWHS (I couldn’t spell that right).

 

Then Florida Appeals stepped up; they were the next in line

With funds set at the level bronze. It said so on the sign.

 

Schipani, Norman and McLain teamed up with Raymond James

To sponsor all the dancing fun. We won’t forget their names.

 

The photo booth made us all laugh with pics of silly props

Provided by AAML – the Florida Chapter’s tops.

 

Dessert had the most sponsors and wow, that food did slay!

So, thanks, Maria Gonzalez and our chair Sarah Kay.

Then Psychological Affiliates and Davis Smith & Jean

And Beebe Armstrong family law rounded out the scene.

 

The Table sponsor we all know was Matthew Lundy Law.

Their support helped out a lot with everything we saw.

 

And Patron sponsors, there were two, with Coral Gables Trust

Joining Sessoms Black. Big thank-yous are a must.

 

So many more helped with the plans, too numerous to name.

But you know who you were. So thank-you just the same.

 

Our next event’s Rhode Island with tours by bus and boat.

Please sign up and come join us. And maybe hug a goat!

 

Thank you the Section’s 50th Anniversary Committee including the Gala chair, Michelle Klinger Smith, Julie Mullen of The Buzz Agency who went above and beyond with the photo montage, trustee videos, and party decorations, Section Administrator Willie Mae Shepherd who attended to countless details, and committee members Heather Apicella, Doug Greenbaum, Matt Lundy, Jack Moring, Phil Schipani, and Amanda Tackenberg as well as Executive Committee Chris Rumbold, Aimee Gross, Tenesia Hall, and Mag. Phil Wartenberg. Without all their hard work, the anniversary weekend would not have been possible.


I look forward to seeing everyone at our Out of State Retreat in Providence, Rhode Island where our event chairs Sarah Sullivan and Anya Cintron Stern have a lot of fun New England shenanigans planned!


Sarah E. Kay, B.C.S.

Chair, 2023-2024

The Family Law Section is keeping our colleagues who weathered Hurricane Idalia in our thoughts. We hope you are safe. Additionally, if any of our Section members would like to volunteer to assist Floridians in the aftermath of Idalia, the Florida Bar Young Lawyers Division has opened the Disaster Legal Services Hotline to answer questions for hurricane victims on a pro-bono basis. 


More information can be found here: https://flayld.org/disaster-legal-services-hotline/

OH, WHAT A NIGHT!

50th Anniversary Golden Gala A Huge Success

L-R: Section Trustees Caroline Black Sikorske, Laura Davis, Diane Kirigin, Sarah Kay, Phil Wartenberg, Maria Gonzales, Douglas Greenbaum, Renee Goldenberg, Steve Sessums, Heather Apicella, Jorge Cestero, Evan Marks.


More than 175 attendees danced the night away at the 50th Anniversary Golden Gala event at The Ritz Carlton in Naples on August 26. Guests enjoyed a Roaring 20s-themed evening, a fantastic six-piece band, delicious dinner and desserts, and much camaraderie! What a great evening and fun way to catch up with new and old colleagues and friends!


More photos will be shared soon! Bookmark our photo gallery HERE.

2024 REVIEW COURSE SCHOLARSHIP APPLICATIONS

DUE FRIDAY, SEPT. 15

The Family Law Section Executive Council has made available 10 needs-based scholarships and one diversity based scholarship of up to $1,500 each; and 10 scholarships for General Magistrates and Hearing Officers of up to $1,025 each. The scholarships are to assist those who plan to attend The AAML/Family Law Section Annual Marital and Family Law Review Course at The Loews Royal Pacific in Orlando, January 26-27, 2024.


The application deadline is Friday, September 15, at 5:00PM EST so don't delay, submit yours today!

APPLY HERE!

CLE: 'ETHICS AND TECHNOLOGY - EXPLORING EFFICIENT SOLUTIONS FOR LEGAL PROFESSIONALS'

Thursday, Sept. 14, 12pm - 1pm EST

Overwhelmed with E-mails? Concerned a critical deadline or detail will slip past you, resulting in an ethical violation? Learn simple but powerful tips and tricks for popular programs and available technology options to ease your anxiety and engage in the ethical practice of law. 1 CLE credit.


SCHEDULE

12:00 PM – 12:05 PM: Introductions and Welcome

Marck Joseph, The Joseph Firm, P.A., Miami, FL

Sarah Kay, Kay Family Law PLLC, Tampa, FL


12:05 PM – 12:30 PM

Intersection of Ethics and Technology: How to pick what works for you,

Pros and Cons to Technology


12:30 PM – 12:55 PM

Ethics and Technology: , Communication Solutions and Case Management Solutions


12:55 PM – 1:00 PM

Closing thoughts and Q&A

REGISTER HERE

CLE: 'ALIMONY 2023 - THE MYTHS AND THE MATH'

Thursday, Sept. 21, 12pm - 2pm EST

This seminar will take in an in-depth look and discussion on how to acclimate your practice to the 2023 alimony reform. 2 CLE credits.


SCHEDULE

12:00 PM – 12:05 PM

Welcome and Introductions

William Norvell, Esq. West Palm Beach (moderator)

David Manz, BSE, Marathon

Andrea Reid, Esq, Boca Raton


12:05 PM – 12:55 PM

In-depth breakdown and exploration of the changes to Fla. Stat. 61.08

with a look at how to practice under alimony reform


12:55 PM – 1:30 PM

Items to consider for the practical application of alimony reform to your existing

and new cases going forward


1:30 PM – 1:55 PM

Questions and Answers


1:55 PM – 2:00 PM

Closingl

REGISTER HERE

LAST CHANCE TO REGISTER FOR

OUR RHODE ISLAND RETREAT!

Discounted Room Rates End Sunday, Sept. 4

Not only will the Rhode Island Out-of-State Retreat (Sept. 27-30) be an epic adventure, it's also a GREAT value!


  • The Graduate Hotel is sumptuous and historic at an amazing rate ($229 room block rate ends Sunday, Sept. 4, so reserve today!)
  • Our receptions with heavy hors d’oeuvres are set overlooking the Providence River and downtown. After breakfast, we depart for Newport and embark on our mimosa cruise of Narragansett Bay then hop on a trolley to tour the town famous for the summer mansions of American’s titans of industry during the Gilded Age—including a tour of The Breakers.
  • Saturday, enjoy a CLE on future financial planning before departing for Simmons Farm for a Goat Hike and Cuddling party.
  • Upon return to the Graduate, take a short walk to Café Nuovo for an epic end-of-retreat dinner front and center to a full lighting of WaterFire Festival.
  • All activities, food and CLE included in the registration price!


REGISTER HERE

TRUSTEE SPOTLIGHT

Steve Sessums, Section Chair, 1981-83

In honor of the Section's 50th Anniversary, we sat down with Trustee Steve Sessums recently for a quick Q&A.


1.   What does the Section mean to you?

 

The birth, growth, and history of the Family Law Section reflects the professionalism and congeniality of family lawyers all over Florida and their striving to learn, teach, and enhance the practice of Family Law. I took great pride in serving as Chair many years ago and am thrilled at the excellence of the Section and its leadership and the vastly enhanced role the Section plays within the Florida Bar.

 

2.   How have you seen the Section Change in the last 50 years?

 

Seeing the Section’s “Commentator” today in its professional format, in color with many photographs, articles, and communication about Section activities makes me proud of all that has been accomplished. The Commentator was also published during my year as Chair and it contained articles and news, but it was very modest compared to today’s Commentator. Also, going to the Marital and Family Law Certification Review Course and seeing almost 2,000 family lawyers in attendance; and, it is so much more comprehensive than our traveling CLE that was given several times a year in a one (1) day program in Jacksonville, Miami and Tampa which addressed generally a single topic.

 

3.   How has the Section stayed the same in the last 50 years?

 

In many ways the Section is very similar to the early stages of the Section, but it reaches a much larger family practice group - including Judges serving full time in Family Law Divisions in the trial courts. But the difference is mainly in the excellent way the Section does its job.

 

4.   How has your participation in the Section changed the way you practice law?

 

In the early years of the Section, most family law attorneys were relatively new to the field. Prior to the beginning of the Family Law Section, we were looked upon by the Bar generally like “bottom feeders”. Our early goals were to build professionalism and respect for the importance of our roles in the practice of law. We also saw the need for reform in the Courts, specialization for our field, and change in the laws that affected family dissolution. I learned so much in socialization with colleagues in the Section, in meetings, at retreats and in the CLEs I participated in. Almost all the early leaders originally had a general litigation practice but gravitated into family law because we felt we could make a difference in people’s lives. Many of us had been divorced and knew well the need for competence and caring in the sensitive matters family law entails.

HISPANIC HERITAGE MONTH

September 15 - October 15

By: Marisol Cruz, Esq.


Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated each year from September 15 through October 15. The discussion of Hispanic vs. Latino/a/x is one that happens regularly, and more often around Hispanic Heritage Month. The terms are often used interchangeably yet they have different meanings and origins. So, what’s the difference?

 

The term “Hispanic” was coined by the U.S. Census Bureau in the 1970’s and refers to any people in the Americas or Spain who speak Spanish or descend from Spanish speaking communities. Prior to adopting the term Hispanic, when filling out Census Forms, many Hispanics would often check off the “white” box.

 

The term “Latino” was coined in the 19th century and is a shortening of the word latinoamerico or “Latin American” after the former Spanish colonies declared their independence around the 1850’s. Latino/a is used to identify individuals with origins from anywhere in Latin America (Mexico, South, and Central America), and Spanish speaking Caribbean countries. LatinX is a gender neutral, non-binary alternative to Latino or Latina.

 

In its most basic form, Hispanic refers to language and Latino/Latina/LatinX refers to geography.

 

The term an individual chooses to use when self-identifying is a personal one and highlights the similarities and differences among the Hispanic and Latino/Latina/LatinX people. Spanish speaking countries share a common language, yet each country has nuances that differentiate the Spanish it speaks from other countries, among them are accents unique to that country or words used within that specific country. Additionally, there are countries in South America where Spanish is not the official language (Brazil, Guyana, Suriname, and French Guiana), yet are seemingly included within the definition of “Latinos.” See how using identifiers can get tricky? A misnomer that I often hear is when “Latinos” are referred to as “being Spanish” simply because they may speak the Spanish language. But, if you’re Spanish, it infers you are from, or descended from, the country of Spain. Being Spanish and speaking Spanish is not the same thing.

 

Living in Miami, I get to regularly experience a variety of rich cultures, many of them from Hispanic origins. It’s actually one of the main reasons I moved from Boston, Massachusetts to Miami in 2003 – to live in a city where Hispanics and Latinos celebrate their culture every day.

 

All this to say, we are all unique individuals, and we should each celebrate the beauty of who we are, regardless of where we are from, where our descendants are from, or the language we speak.

CASE LAW UPDATE

By: Cash A. Eaton, Esq.


T.T.L. v. F.A.L., 2023 WL 4750210 (Fla. 2d DCA 2023).


This month, I present to you an unusual case from the strange and exotic land of Hillsborough County, Florida. T.T.L. v. F.A.L., 2023 WL 4750210 (Fla. 2d DCA 2023) is a paternity action, where the Father, F.A.L., is a professional actor (I figured out who it is. If you are curious, I challenge you to do the same). The Mother, acting pro se, filed a petition to establish the Father’s paternity. The Father answered the petition acknowledging his paternity. The parties, both acting pro se, proceeded to trial.


Through the proceedings the Father was evasive about his income and financial status. The trial court noted in the final judgment that “the Father has not been forthcoming with his financial discovery and has failed to comply with numerous orders compelling the same. However, there was some evidence as to the Father’s income. The trial court determined that the father's net monthly income was $74,317 but acknowledged that this was likely a conservative figure. Conversely, the Mother’s net monthly income was very modest. Therefore, the presumed child support guidelines amount was $4,627.81. Nevertheless, the trial court reduced the father's monthly child support obligation to $2,110, which was more than a 50% reduction from the presumed child support guidelines amount.


The trial court, in support of its ruling, stated, “The trial court found that a deviation from the guideline amount was necessary to achieve an equitable result. The court stated that “due to the totality of the evidence presented, ordering payment of the guideline amount would be inappropriate ... in light of the demonstrated, actual needs of the child.” The court also stated that it had considered that “the child has only seen and interacted with the Father on three or fewer occasions” and “the Mother has been able to meet the child's needs (absent daycare expenses for a period of time).”


The Appellate Court overturned the trial court’s ruling. § 61.30(6), Fla. Stat. does allow a trial court to deviate from a presumed amount under the child support guidelines. However, the trial court must explain in writing or announce a specific finding on the record why the payment of the guideline amount would be “unjust or inappropriate.” The Appellate Court found that the trial court’s findings were not sufficient to justify a reduction. Specifically, the Appellate Court reasoned that the Father was being rewarded for choosing not to participate in the child's life. Therefore, it is not a sufficient legal basis to support a reduction in his child support obligation. This is especially true considering the trial court’s finding that the Father had been less than truthful concerning his financial circumstances. Further, this award created a significant procedural issue because neither party requested a deviation from the child support guidelines amount. Therefore, it was not appropriate to grant such relief when it was not requested.

ADOBE TECH TIPS

By: Luisa Blandon, Esq.


Do you ever have a PDF document open and find yourself scrolling up and down between pages to reference or compare data? Here's a time saver for you!

 

When you have the document open, click the "Window" option. When the options pop up, click "New Window" and voila! Now you have the same document opened in two instances. You can now set up the two documents side by side to simplify your reference points.

 

For a bonus tip, you can use the windows key instantaneously with the arrow keys to snap the windows side by side or on two separate monitors if you use dual screens!

 

For advanced users, you can also use the bookmark feature to help organize the document and jump quickly to pages of interest. To do this you can simply click on the bookmarks ribbon that has a plus sign or use the keyboard shortcut "ctrl-b".

COMMITTEE SPOTLIGHT

Health & Wellness

By: Cynthia Hernandez, Esq., Chairperson


The Health and Wellness Committee works to promote and implement wellness initiatives to improve the mental and physical health of its members. As attorneys our primary goal is providing top notch representation to our clients but sometimes our well-being is placed on the back burner. The Health and Wellness Committee hopes to change that mindset by providing guidance and support to attorneys on the different ways to achieve improved mental health, physical fitness, morale, productivity and much more.

 

Our mission is to serve the Bar in a manner that promotes better health and wellness in both their personal and professional life. The Committee is interested in receiving input and feedback as it navigates the waters of the elusive work/life balance. Anyone interested in sharing your story or submitting an article regarding your own journey to wellness please submit to hw@familylawfla.org.

VENDOR SPOTLIGHT

Bascom Communications & Consulting

By: General Magistrate Beth Luna


Bascom Communications & Consulting, LLC (BCC), a strategic communications and public affairs firm, has worked with The Family Law Section of the Florida Bar for nearly five years. BCC leads the industry in issue advocacy, utilizing unique communications strategies to secure success for its clients.


On behalf of the Section, BCC has worked extensively with the Legislation Committee, supporting the advancement of key pieces of legislation by positioning the Section as subject matter experts before key media, particularly Florida’s Capitol Press Corps.


Most recently, BCC supported the Section’s efforts to ensure the passage of Greyson’s Law, Support for Dependent Adult Children, and Shared Parental Responsibility after Establishment of Paternity. For several years, BCC also worked hand-in-hand with the Section’s government relations team and the Section on Dissolution of Marriage and Parenting and Time-sharing of Minor Children; notably assisting to secure a veto of a 2022 bill relating to the Dissolution of Marriage that was unconstitutionally retroactive.


BCC continues to work with the Section and its Legislation Committee to elevate the Section’s legislative positions.

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 family law-related 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!

SPONSORS WANTED!

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! Thank you to all of our past and current sponsors for supporting the mission of the Family Law Section! To learn more about getting involved, click HERE.

SIGNATURE SPONSORS