Family Law Section Monthly Newsletter

Laura's Super Cool Kayaking Feet
Chair's Message

Hello Family Law Section!

We had an incredible Leadership Retreat in St. Augustine, August 6-9! Not only was it informative, it was also entertaining. Thanks to Andrea Reid, the Chair of the retreat, we had the most wonderful scavenger hunt, ("The Amazing Race"), where we raced in a speed boat, met a pirate, and learned much of the history St. Augustine.

Most importantly, we made new connections and we shared our experiences. We as a Section are a blessedly diverse group, and have so much to offer each other.

Next week, we will enjoy our Out-of-State Retreat in the Pacific Northwest. The annual sojourn out of the great State of Florida is actually a joint effort of the Section and the Florida Chapter of the AAML. The below photo of Natalie Lemos, the 2016-2017 President of the Florida Chapter of the AAML, is a harbinger of the fun and frolic the 60 plus registered attendees will experience as we tour Seattle and learn a little about the Hague in the process.

I know that it seems like we Section members have been traveling quite a bit, and, we have. But, we are still actively working toward our goals for the year. To name but a few of the tasks undertaken: the Executive Council will be voting on the latest amendment to the Bylaws; we will be reviewing our Mission Statement; the Certification Review Course Committee will soon be receiving the initial materials for the 2017 Annual Marital & Family Law Review Course; Treasurer Abigail Beebe has already formed her team and begun the Ad Hoc Committee for Constitution Revision work; and we are putting out this FAMSEG newsletter regularly!

We have requested suggestions for a re-naming of this monthly electronic newsletter, and we have some great suggestions. Please submit your ideas for a new name by September 15, 2016, as we want to make the grand announcement before the end of the year!

Thank you for being a Section member, and stay tuned and active!

Laura Davis Smith, Esquire
Chair, Family Law Section of the Florida Bar
Breaking News - International Recovery of Child Support

On August 30, 2016, the President signed the instrument of ratification for the Hague Convention on International Recovery of Child Support and Other Forms of Family Maintenance. This Convention contains numerous groundbreaking provisions that, for the first time on a global scale, will establish uniform, simple, fast, and inexpensive procedures for the processing of international child support cases, which benefits children and those responsible for their care.  While similar procedures are already the norm in the United States, establishing them as the international standard represents a considerable advance on prior child support conventions.  Ratification of the Convention will mean that more children residing in the United States will receive the financial support they need from their parents, whether their parents reside in the United States or in a foreign country party to the Convention.
Upcoming Events

Sept. 7 - 11 Out of State Retreat - Seattle, WA

Jan. 26 Committee Meetings - Orlando, FL

What's New with Family Law Section Children's Issues
by Sheena Benjamin-Wise, Co-Chair of Children's Issues Committee
The Children's Issues Committee is a part of the Family Law Section specifically designated to serve the community where members review current Florida statutes and recommend changes or action plans that will impact children involved in family law litigation. The Children's Issues Committee members are currently examining cases involving high conflict litigation. Specifically, the members of the subcommittee are looking at methods and suggestions for drafting highly detailed parenting plans for initial or modification actions. The intent is to provide practitioners with tools to avoid subsequent and ongoing contemptuous litigation, and modification actions regarding timesharing schedules. Approximately twenty (20%) percent of pending litigation in Florida Courts are considered "High Conflict" due to the substantial litigation involved. How can the practitioner draft an effective parenting plan, which will reduce the need for continuous litigation and impact to the children of our State? The Webinar will include the perspective of seasoned litigators and members of the judiciary to examine such question.
Second, the Committee looks to address concerns arising from issues with the Florida statute 61.130001. Since the establishment of the Relocation statute, practitioners have dealt with clients attempting to push the boundaries beyond the pale. As many litigants understand, when relocation is pending, the number of miles will determine whether litigation is required prior to the desired move, so moving up to 49.99 miles from the last residence where a timesharing order was entered may or may not trigger litigation. Accordingly, our members are reviewing the statute to determine if a glitch that mandates revision. The Committee works closely with the Legislation Committee to determine if new legislation is needed to address such a need.
Another exciting and timely project for the Committee is exploring parenting styles and technology that may impact children. So often practitioners are called to negotiate how the other parents handle technology to supervise their children or interfere with the parenting style of the other, or worse, track or stalk the other parent. App programs, like "Find Friends", that track or locate users may provide parents with some level of peace of mind to know where their teenage child may be, however it may be misused to provide unprecedented access to the other parent's whereabouts under the guise of parental supervision. The members will explore other technologies such as iCloud sharing or other group sharing apps such as "GroupMe" that allow multiple users to review and respond to messages at once that lend to oversharing details and overexposure of young children. Here the challenge presented is how to balance the technology available to ensure the teen has boarded the correct bus or reached home with the privacy of the parent with whom the child is or will be.
These are only a few of the many actions the members of the Children's Issues Committee are diligently working on. If you are interested is any of these topics or believe you have an idea for a pressing need in this area, please do not hesitate to contact me at or my co-chair, Sonja Jean at to advise.  
Executive Council Spotlight - Belinda Lazzara -St. Petersburg
When I was offered the opportunity to write an EC member spotlight article, I was excited.

When I learned that I wasn't supposed to talk about any of my professional accomplishments, I got nervous (isn't that how we all measure ourselves?). When I started thinking about the questions I was actually supposed to answer, like my favorite quote or favorite book, I felt pretty boring.

So many of us focus on just getting through the day, the week, the year (remember the "time to make the donuts" commercial?), that we don't do anything else. We lose track of who we are and all the fun things we used to do. So I decided to look through some old photo albums for inspiration and came across photos of me and my dad. They reminded me of trips and adventures that I hadn't thought about in years.

My dad always reminded me to explore and learn from each new life experience. He constantly encouraged me to take risks and try new things. And he would never miss an opportunity to share in those experiences, from white water rafting, to deep sea fishing, to hot air ballooning. He crashed his scooter in Key West last month when he rode it off a curb. Unfortunately I didn't catch a photo of that one, but he was laughing all the way.

He was also there for all of the usual milestones, the day I was sworn in, to walk me down the aisle and the day my children were born, always beaming with pride.

My dad is alive and well. In fact, I'm sending him a copy of this article to thank him for the inspiration and to thank him for always being there, because some day, he won't be. So I doubt anyone reading this knew just how much I love and respect my dad. Now go through your old photos and send someone you love a little "thank you." 

Other Committee Updates:
Access to Justice Committee. Longtime active Florida Bar Family Law Section member Sarah Sullivan is the current Chair of the Florida Bar Public Interest Law Section.  Professor Sullivan has been developing a program to facilitate access to justice in family law cases for low-income families.  The goal is to find a financially feasible way for low-income families to have access to an advocate through the entire legal process.  The Executive Council unanimously voted in favor of forming a Family Law Section Ad Hoc Committee to investigate bridging the justice gap.  Professor Sarah Sullivan will be chairing this committee
Big Bar Diversity and Inclusion Committee William Schifino, Jr., President of The Florida Bar, requested that the Family Law Section appoint a liaison from to be part of the larger Bar Diversity and Inclusion Committee.  Laura Davis Smith, Chair of the Family Law Section, invited Sheena Benjamin-Wise to be the liaison for the Family Law Section, and Ms. Benjamin-Wise graciously accepted the position.
Family Law Section Diversity and Inclusion Committee There was discussion at the last Executive Council meeting that someone from the newly created Diversity and Inclusion Committee be appointed as a "social mentor."  A "social mentor" will welcome new attendees and new members at meetings and events, introduce them to other active members, and make sure  they feel welcomed into the section.  An Ad Hoc Committee was formed to work on developing a program that has both a professional and a social mentor piece.  Douglas Greenbaum will be heading this committee.
Public Relations Committee.  The Florida Bar Family Law Section Executive Council unanimously voted in favor of forming an Ad Hoc Public Relations Committee.  The purpose of this committee will be to promote the good works of the section both within the Florida Bar and to the general public at large.  Lori Caldwell-Carr and Patricia Elizee will be chairing this committee.
Rules and Forms Committee.  Sarah Kay announced that the Big Bar Family Law Rules and Forms Committee has completed the proposed "Stand Alone" Family Law Rules.  Comments were due by August 15, 2016.  The Florida Bar Family Law Section took a position in favor of the Stand Alone Rules as presented. 
Upcoming CLE
Registration Info Coming Soon!

September 28 :   How Not to Get Yourself in Trouble 
Practicing Family Law

October 19: Five Myths of Collaborative Law

November 10: Case Law Update

November 16Mechanics of Board Certification

January 27 - 28:  2017 Annual Marital & Family Law Review Course

Section In State Retreat - St. Augustine, FL

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Squib of the mon th:  

Alvarado v. DOR o/b/o Alvarado , 41 Fl.L.Weekly D1457 (Fla. 3rd DCA 2016).  Parent paying unallocated child support must 
petition court to reduce the amount when one child reaches majority.
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