Family Law Section Monthly Newsletter

Chair's Message

I am writing this December message on November 12th while sitting next to Mr. Eddie  Stephens , one of the kindest men, lawyers, humans I kno w. (Don't let that kindness fool you, opposing counsel! He is a mad litigator with mad skills. You should be afraid, very afraid.) 

Despite Ed die's talents as a litigator, we are sitting here together in a training to become certified in Collaborative Law.  It is always a good idea to keep progressing, and to embrace Collaborative Law as another tool in our boxes benefits our practices, and our future clients.  I encourage all of us to keep up with the changing times, so we are not left behind.

In the wake of the recent election, I want to reinforce the message of this Bar year - inclusivity and finding our strength in working together. We are a blessedly diverse group, and for that I am grateful. I appreciate each one of you who contributes to the good work we do in the Section. Let us keep on keeping on.

Happy holidays to all!

Laura Davis Smith, Esquire
Chair, Family Law Section of the Florida Bar
Upcoming CLE

December 7, 2016
Debunking the Myths About Collaborative Law

Executive Committee Spotlight: Chris Rumbold

Favorite quote?  "By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail". -Benjamin Franklin. 
Something we did not know about you? I am a former equestrian and Olympic hopeful.

Favorite Family Law Case? DMT v. TMH. In large part because of the recognition it provided that not all families look alike - "The intangible fibers that connect parent and child have infinite variety. They are woven throughout the fabric of our society, providing it with strength, beauty, and flexibility. It is self-evident that they are sufficiently vital to merit constitutional protection in appropriate cases."

Favorite books? John Adams, David McCullough.

Favorite TV show and why? Shameless - Two reasons: 1) it is bizarrely and uncomfortably wacky and entertaining; and 2) it puts everything into perspective. Everything.

Why you practice family law? That is interesting question. There was a time many years ago that I would have attributed practicing family law to my desire to not try capital cases at the Public Defender's Office. Thirteen years later I practice family law because I thoroughly enjoy - love - the practice of it - intellectually, professionally and emotionally. Each day is different. Each case has some anomaly that sets it apart from the rest - whether factually, or based upon the client, court or opposing counsel.

Favorite superhero? I gave this great consideration. I do not really have one. I have heroes - possessing, in my opinion, extraordinary powers but a specific super hero with superhuman powers. Abraham Lincoln, Anne Frank, Stephen Hawking, Alan Turing, Mahatma Gandhi.

Best place you have traveled to? Nepal.

Proudest accomplishment within the section? Co-drafting the briefs amicus curiae in Shaw and Pareto.
Section News:

Publications Committee Update
The Publications Committee is having a productive year. FAMSEG has been updated, thanks to Eddie Stephens and Lori Caldwell-Carr . We had an article, titled Homeschooling and the Perils of Shared Parental Responsibility and written by Antony Barone Kolenc , published in the recent November 2016 Florida Bar Journal. The Fall Edition of The Commentator has been completed and should be in your mailboxes soon. The Winter Edition of The Commentator is now underway and should be finalized shortly. We are still in need of articles for the Spring Edition and Summer Edition of The Commentator. Please submit articles for consideration in our Spring Edition by February 1, 2017 and by May 1, 2017 for our Summer Edition. All article submissions should be e-mailed in Word format to our Commentator Co-Vice Chairs, Tenesia Hall and Heather Apicella . If you are interested in joining the Publications Committee, please e-mail   Julia Wyda .

Past Section Chair, Maria Gonzalez Honored
Maria C. Gonzalez of Young, Berman, Karpf & Gonzalez in Ft. Lauderdale was honored with the 2016 "Honorable Hugh E. Starnes Community Service Award" by the Florida Chapter of The Association of Family and Conciliation Courts.

Save the Date:  2017 Out of State Retreat
The Family Law Section is heading west.  So dust off your boots and your relaxed attitude and make plans to join us on an 8,500 acre guest ranch in the Colorado Rockies!  Save the date - September 6-10, 2017.


The Supreme Court recently approved a three-hour increase in the Bar's CLE requirement, plus a new mandate to take technology-related CLE courses.

Effective January 1, 2017, each Bar member will be required to complete a minimum of 33 credit hours of approved continuing legal education activity every three years. 

Five of the 33 credit hours must be in approved legal ethics, professionalism, bias elimination, substance abuse, or mental illness awareness programs, and three of the 33 credit hours must be in approved technology programs, which are included in, not in addition to, the regular 33 credit hour requirement.

Compliance for the new rule will begin in the member's next reporting cycle following the January 1, 2017, effective date.

The new 33-hour standard does not apply to Florida Registered Paralegals.

Squib of the mon

Koch v. Koch , 40 Fla.L.Weekly D2197 (Fla. 1st  DCA 2016).  Trial court affirmed for prohibiting Father from "discussing ANY religious matters with children" because there was a clear, affirmative showing that the religious activities at issue were harmful to children.  Normally, restrictions against parent's right to expose children to their religious beliefs unless there is a clear affirmative showing that religious activity at issue is harmful to child.

Introductory Interdisciplinary Collaborative  Practice Training
Orlando, January 13 - 14, 2017
Barry University School of Law, 6441 E. Colonial Drive, Orlando, FL. 32807
This 2-day basic training is appropriate for Lawyers, Mental Health Professionals, Financial Professionals and Students interested in practicing Collaborative Family Law.   14.5 hours of CLE.   Roadmaps for Resolution Trainers since 2011.  Facilitators are  Tom Behan, CPA,  Barbara Kelly, Ph.D,  Brenda London, Esquire, and  Teresa F. Parnell, Psy.D.

Cost is $550 (or $450 if you commit to ONE Barry  Collaborative Law Clinic Case)

Questions? Call 407.951.8812 or 407.862.2722 or visit

Family Law Section Sponsors

Platinum Level:

Gold Level:
Call for Articles

The Family Law Section WANTS YOU to write for one of its three publications: The Florida Bar Journal, The Family Law Commentator, and/or FAMSEG.

The Journal: To be considered for publication in The Florida Bar Journal, the a rticle should be scholarly and relate in some manner to family law. It should be twelve to fifteen pages in length, complete with end notes. For more information contact C. Debra Welch or Belinda Lazzara.

The Commentator: The Family Law Sections Glossy Quarterly magazine. Art icles could range from substantive articles to advice about lifestyle and wellness. For more information contact Tenesia Hall or Heather Apicella.

FAMSEG: Got an announcement? Pictures of a section event? Something light and fluffy? FAMSEG is your place! You might have noticed something different in this edition of FAMSEG. So if you have any of the above, or suggestions to improve the look and feel of FAMSEG, contact Eddie Stephens.

We are also having a contest to rename "FAMSEG".  Got a suggestion?  Email us!

Advertise in FAMSEG!
For information: Contact Gabrielle Tollok at