The Florida Bar Family Law Section Monthly Newsletter

Nicole L. Goetz
2017-2018 Section Chai
Greetings from Naples, Florida! As Chair of the Family Law Section of The Florida Bar for 2017-2018, I am excited to let you know what has been happening since our last newsletter, and what direction we will be going this year!
First, we enjoyed a successful year under Laura Davis Smith's remarkable leadership. At our Annual Luncheon held during the Florida Bar Annual Convention, Laura recognized those individuals who really helped make her year great. Just to hit a few of the highlights:


Kathryn BeamerSheena Benjamin-WiseRon BornsteinAnthony GenovaCarin PorrasRobin Scher and Eddie E. Stephens, III, were recognized with the Unsung Hero Award.


Alicia de la OSandy T. FoxAnastasia GarciaJoseph D. HuntMichelle Klinger Smith and Reuben Doupe were presented the Spotlight Award to recognize their unique contributions to the section.


Eddie  Stephens  was awarded the Alberto Romero Making a Difference Award in  light of his dedication to making a difference for Florida's children and families through his tireless service to the disadvantaged and underserved.


The Above and Beyond Award was presented to Aimee GrossAmy C. HamlinAmy HickmanSarah E. KayAndrea Oyola-ReidBonnie Sockel-Stone, and Eddie Stephens.

Jorge Cestero  and  Scott Rubin , former chairs of the section, were presented with the Honorable Raymond T. McNeal Professionalism Award for their passionate service and professionalism. Read more below about this award.

Former Chair  Elisha D. Roy  was presented with the Trail Blazer Award,  in recognition of her trailblazing contributions to advance  gender equality within the Bar, her desire to elevate the practice of law through Board Certification, her tireless voice for Florida's families and her championing legislation to benefit Florida's children, among others.

We also elected and welcomed our new Executive Committee members, Chair-Elect Abigail  Beebe , Treasurer  Amy Hamlin , Secretary  Douglas Greenbaum , and of course, Immediate Past Chair Laura Davis Smith . We had an opportunity to recognize those attorneys who have become newly board certified by The Florida Bar in the area of Marital & Family Law, Lauren Marie IlventoJustin D. JacobsonTravis R. JohnsonLisa Frances KargesSarah E. Kay and Jonathan R. Simon. Congratulations! Former Chair Maria Gonzalez administered the oath as we swore in our newest Executive Council members, Trisha ArmstrongAnastasia GarciaKimberly Rommel-Enrigh and Philip J. Shipani, as well as those EC members returning to serve a new term, Sheena Benjamin-WiseSarah E. KayMatthew Lundy, and Philip Wartenberg .

Follow us on
Facebook  and  Twitter  to find out more about our annual meeting and to keep up with section news and events. View more awards photos in our website photo gallery.

As the newly elected Chair of the Family Law Section, I am excited to announce that this year's theme is appropriate advocacy. This year we will focus on promoting not only the mastery of the substantive, procedural, and ethical rules unique to family law, but our Section will continue to encourage, recognize and foster service by our members to improve our practice area, the legal profession, and to provide assistance to those unable to afford representation in our area, an area of critical need and importance.  If you are not already an active member, I encourage you to join us and get involved this year with the Family Law Section - we have a lot that we can accomplish together!    
Nicole L. Goetz, Esquire
Chair, Family Law Section of the Florida Bar
2017 Trial Advocacy Workshop - Register Online Now*

Please join  The Florida Bar Family Law Section  at the 2017 Trial Advocacy Workshop , July 20-23, at the  Vinoy Renaissance St. Petersburg Resort & Golf Club . Improve your trial skills while preparing and presenting a family law case from beginning to end. The program offers a two-track option (choose between a children's issues case or a financial issues case). All effort will be made to accommodate your selection. The worksho p provides you with individualized attention within your small group. All workshop leaders are Florida Bar board certified in Marital & Family Law. In their respective workshops, attendees will meet with forensic psychologists and forensic accountants in small settings with the opportunity to ask questions and engage in open discussions. Take advantage of this opportunity to change the way you approach trials and to hone your skills. Completion of the Trial Advocacy Workshop counts as a trial for marital and family law board certification.

*Registration is limited to 80 participants. There will be no on-site registration. Register online now.

Family Law Section Sponsors  

Platinum Level


  Gold Level

Bronze Level

Law Firm Sponsors 

Upcoming Events
  • July 20 - 23:  T rial Advocacy Workshop, St. Petersburg. Info here.
  • September 6 - 10:  Out-of-State Retreat, Granby, CO. Info here.
  • October 5 - 7:   Fall General Meeting, Bonita Springs (Oct. 6 Committee Meetings; Oct. 7 Executive Council Meeting). Info here.
Looking for additional CLE credit? Click  here   for on-demand online CLE courses. 
2017 Out-of-State Retreat

The section's Fall Retreat is Sept. 6 - 7 at the C Lazy U Ranch in Granby, CO. C Lazy U was recently awarded the 3rd best resort in Colorado and the 9th best resort in the U.S. by Condé Nast Traveler Readers' Choice Awards, the third consecutive year the ranch has been ranked within the top three in Colorado and top 10 in the U.S. Fall is one of the most beautiful times of year at the ranch because it is nestled at the foot of the majestic Colorado Rocky Mountains. The leaves turn a vibrant gold, the air is crisp and there is always plenty to do! In addition to the 8,500-acre ranch, you can make arrangements for other fun activities in the area such as golfing, hot air ballooning and white water rafting. Please do not hesitate to contact the co-chairs of the event, Carin Porras  or Amy Hamlin, with any questions.
Stephens' Squibs

Click HERE for this month's Squibs Family Law Case Summaries.
Squib of the Mon thMartinez v. Martinez, 42 Fla.L.Weekly D1145 (Fla. 5th DCA 2017). Two-year limitation on marital waste statute (F.S. 61.075(1)(j)) does not act as a bar to claim. For waste older than two years, court may consider remote dissipation in fashioning equitable distribution scheme.  If it is within two years, court must charge it against other party.
2016-17 Section Chair Laura Davis Smith with Scott L. Rubin and Jorge Cestero
Rubin and Cestero Honored With McNeal Professionalism Awards

Please congratulate the 2017 winners of  The Florida Bar Family Law Section's Honorable Raymond T. McNeal Professionalism Award, Scott L. Rubin and Jorge Cestero. The award honors  "passionate service to the Executive Council of the Family Law Section of The Florida Bar, performed with exemplary professionalism an d courtesy towards those with whom you served." Rubin and Cestero are former chairs of the s ection  and have been longtime contributing and valuable members. 

FAMSEG will feature 2017 Family Law Section award winners in each issue. View all of this year's award recipients on the section's  Facebook page.
The Law Office of Philip J. Schipani , Sarasota
Philip J. Schipani and son Carson
Who is someone who inspires you? There are a few. Mostly, my son, despite his disabilities, he never gives up and is happy and loving. Second, my wife and my daughter who fight for my son and put him above all else. On a different note, My grandfather, who invaded the beaches of Normandy on D-Day, fought through the Battle of the Bulge and was part of the forces that liberated Dachau. I am very proud of my familly's service. My grandfather and his three brothers all fought abroad in WWII and all came back while at the same time my great-grandmother had to register as an enemy alien because she was still an Italian citizen.

How do you define success? After the birth of my son and his diagnosis of autism my definition of success has changed dramatically. In short, my definition of success is doing everything I can to ensure that my son has been provided everything necessary to have the best shot at a meaningful life.

Why do you practice family law?
There are certainly easier ways to make money. What keeps me going practicing family law is those cases where I am making a difference in a child's life and when I can help a victim of domestic violence remove themselves from their situation. It is also rewarding to see the positive change in the client's outlook on life from the day they walk into the office through the end of their case.

What is something few people know about you? A crossroads I had in my life was deciding whether to go to college and law school or going to Berklee Conservatory of Music to study guitar. On bad days in the office I sometimes second guess this decision.

Favorite quote? The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. - Martin Luther King, Jr.

Favorite family law case? Pashtenko v. Pashtenko, 148 So.3d 545 (2nd DCA 2014). This is my favorite case not just because it's my sole reported decision, but because after many years of a Judge wrongfully denying domestic violence injunctions, I was able to have the 2nd DCA bring this to an end. Hopefully, it has helped other victims of domestic violence throughout Florida.

Favorite book and why? A Time to Kill. This book is thought provoking on many levels, especially as a parent and a lawyer.

Favorite TV show and why? Vikings. I love historical dramas. Vikings is very well done, the acting and the battle scenes are second to none. This show is educational, entertaining and violent all at the same time.

Favorite song lyric? Be a dream in color even on a winter's night/Thinking Georges Seurat, afternoon bathed in light/Get your joy no matter who says it's right/Their cover's blown, find the story of your own" Camouflage - Third Eye Blind.

Favorite superhero? My son, Carson.

Best place you've traveled? It's not even close. Hawaii. It is the most beautiful place I have been too. I also love to scuba dive and the diving off the coast of Maui is an almost religious experience, unlike anything I have ever done. Not to mention the coffee and macadamia nuts.

Proudest accomplishment within the section? Being a speaker at the first all day live domestic violence seminar.

What benefits do you receive as a result of your section participation? Meeting colleagues who care as much about my profession and Florida's families as much as I do. Being up to date on the law and having an outlet to help improve the practice and being able to have a positive influence on family law rules and statues.

Something we did not know about you? I am very proud of my Italian-American Ancestry. Along those lines, I love to cook, especially Italian and have been told, at times, that by more than one person, that I should open up a restaurant.

Coffee or tea? Coffee, specifically, espresso.

If you were stranded on a desert island, what three items could you not live without? Espresso, pasta and Netflix.
Luz Nieto
Pazos Family Law P.A., Weston

Like our country's sitting president, your clients probably use at least one social media site like Instagram, Facebook or Twitter as part of their daily lives. One of the first things we as counselors should advise our clients is to take a social media sabbatical, pending litigation. What may seem like harmless posts in the ordinary course can quickly be misconstrued and used as evidence against a litigant.
Sharing information on social media while a case is pending can be dangerous. When a case is filed, your client should be told to take a social media hiatus.

We have all seen it:  flashy photos of expensive dinners, luxury vacations and glamorous goods posted online by someone who may not actually live the lifestyle to justify them. Sharing information that allegedly portrays a client's financial situation, be it good or bad, accurate or not, could affect their pending litigation. Remind your clients that anything they post online can be-and often is-used as evidence in their cases.
As the adage goes, "A picture is worth a thousand words." If your client posts a potentially damaging photo online, you could have a terrible time trying to explain it away in court. Likewise, if a client's Facebook friend tags her in a photo depicting a night of drunken debauchery, you will likely be charged with the task of explaining away the negative portrayal to a judge.
We all know that it is tempting (and so easy!) to vent online about life's difficulties. Divorce is one of the most stress-inducing events in a person's life, and reaching out to perceived friends for support makes sense in theory.  Urge your clients instead to find support in their established friendships, offline.
Your clients will never regret the social media sabbatical you encourage them to take during their divorces. They would, however, very much regret the negative outcome a detrimental post might cause if they choose not to heed your warning. 

The Family Law Section WANTS YOU to write for one of three publications: The Florida Bar Journal, The Family Law Commentator and/or FAMSEG For more information contact  C. Debra Welch  or  Lori Caldwell-Carr .

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 12-15 pages in length, complete with end notes. 
Commentator: The Family Law Section's glossy quarterly magazine. Art icles could range from substantive articles to advice about lifestyle and wellness. 
FAMSEG: Have  an announcement? Pictures of a section event? Something light and fluffy? FAMSEG is your place! 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." Have a suggestion?   Email us!

Advertise in FAMSEG!
For information: Contact Gabrielle Tollok at .
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