I welcome all of you to the new Bar year! I write to you after a very successful round of Section meetings at the Florida Bar’s Annual Meeting held at the Hilton Bonnet Creek Resort in Orlando. It was there that our esteemed Chair for 2021-2022, Heather Apicella, graciously passed the gavel as Section Chair over to me, and I continue to feel very humbled and very blessed as I step into this role. I certainly consider myself very fortunate to be following Heather in this role after her very successful Chair year. Thank you Heather!

As we continue to move our Section further out of the COVID-19 pandemic, back to a place that actually feels “normal” again, I feel it is important to additionally thank our recent past Chairs Amy Hamlin and Douglas Greenbaum, who successfully led our Section during those trying times. Thank you Amy and Doug! I continue to think of how great it was for all of us to gather again IN PERSON, for our Installation Luncheon in June as well as for our meetings throughout that day. So to all of those who joined us for our very well-attended meetings, thank you! And to our new Executive Committee, our Chair-Elect, Sarah Kay, our Treasurer, Chris Rumbold, our Secretary, Aimee Gross, and our Immediate Past Chair, Heather Apicella: I especially look forward to working with each of you, along with our Section Administrator Willie Mae Shepherd, as we strive towards another successful year on behalf of the Section. 

To our members, I hope that you can join us for the Family Law Section’s 2022 Leadership Retreat and Fall Meetings. These are being held at the Biltmore Hotel Coral Gables, from Wednesday, August 24th to Saturday, August 27th. This will be the Section’s first Leadership Retreat since 2018, and I strongly encourage anyone who wants to become more involved in our Section to attend what should be a truly great event. I want to thank the Retreat Co-Chairs, Sonja Jean, Michelle Klinger-Smith, and Jack Moring, for their hard work already in planning this Leadership Retreat. Among other highlights on the agenda, our keynote speaker, Wilhemina Tribble, the Chief Diversity Officer of Florida Southern College, has planned an excellent interactive presentation for us on diversity and leadership. It is certain to be a great “Gathering in the Gables”! 

I am thrilled to announce that we are offering 6 scholarships for the Leadership Retreat; 5 needs-based scholarships and 1 diversity-based scholarship. The application deadline is July 11, 2022, at 5:00 p.m., so if you interested, please don’t delay in applying!

I thank each of you for providing me this opportunity to work with you in furtherance of our Section’s goals of “Serving Florida’s Families” and “Promoting Professionalism.” I look forward to sharing in a wonderful Bar year in 2022-2023 with all of you!

Philip S. Wartenberg
Chair, 2022-2023
We're thrilled to announce that we have six scholarships available for our Section Leadership Retreat at The Biltmore Hotel Miami in Coral Gables, Florida from August 24-26, 2022.

HURRY! The deadline to apply is this Monday, July 11 at 5 p.m. EST. Learn more HERE.
One of the highlights of our Annual Meeting in Orlando was the opportunity to present a contribution in the amount of $75,000 to The Florida Bar Foundation in support of their children's legal advocacy programs. To date, The Family Law Section has donated $650,000 to the Foundation, surpassing all other Sections (by about $300K!) We are immensely proud of our partnership with the Foundation, and we are truly grateful for the support of our Section members who help make this possible.
By: General Magistrate Barbara Goiran

On March 24, 2022 the Florida Supreme Court issued the opinion In Re: Amendments to Fla. Family Law Rules of Procedure 12.490 & 12.491, & Forms 12.920 (A)-(C). The Court approved amendments to these rules “to align the process for hearings in front of general magistrates under rule 12.490 with the process for hearings in front of child support hearing officers under rule 12.491” and updated the related forms. Prior to the adoption of these amendments, a person seeking review of a report and recommendation of general magistrate pursuant to Rule 12.490 would file exceptions thereto within a ten day window prior to entry to an order ratifying the report and recommendation. A person seeking review of a recommended order of a child support hearing officer pursuant to Rule 12.491 would file a Motion to Vacate the recommended order within a ten day window after entry of the court ratifying the recommended order. After April 1, 2022, both rules require the filing of a Motion to Vacate, and both General Magistrates and Child Support Hearing Officers are authorized to submit a Recommended Order for immediate entry by the Court, subject to a timely Motion to Vacate. 
 
The Section thanks 2021-2022 Co-Chairs of the Rules and Forms Committee, Kristin R.H. Kirkner and Jack A. Moring; Heather Apicella, Immediate Past-Chair; and General Magistrate Diane M. Kirigin, who provided comments in her capacity as the Former Chair, Association of Florida Magistrates and Hearing Officers for her comments, but is also an esteemed member of the Section’s Executive Council.
On June 16, 2022, the Supreme Court of Florida amended Florida Family Law Rule of Procedure 12.351, the Production of Documents and Things Without Deposition. The amended rule now provides that when service is by e-mail, the minimum time between service of notice of intent to serve a subpoena and service of the subpoena is changed from fifteen to ten days. 
 
The Section thanks 2021-2022 Co-Chairs of the Rules and Forms Committee, Kristin R.H. Kirkner and Jack A. Moring; Heather Apicella, Immediate Past-Chair; for their leadership in providing comments for the Supreme Court of Florida’s consideration. 
We've got a jam-packed year ahead and with all the events taking place in-person, it's time to book your travel plans NOW! CLICK HERE to learn more about these and other upcoming Section events.
By: Cash Eaton, BCS

Adams v. Adams, 2022 WL 2080213 (Fla. 2d DCA 2022)

In this case, the Former Husband alleged the trial court committed reversible error when awarding permanent alimony by not making sufficient findings as to his net income, the Former Wife’s need for alimony, nor his undistributed pass-through income from family businesses. The Former Husband earned wages as a helicopter pilot and from his interest in Adams Fruit Company, and Landmark Investments to pay for the family’s living expenses. In addition, he earned K-1 income (otherwise known as “pass-through income”) from his ownership in other family businesses.
 
In its oral ruling, the trial court referenced the Former Husband’s several sources of income, but it only referenced the gross amounts earned by the Former Husband. Further, the final judgment failed to include any calculations detailing the Former Husband’s net income. Florida law is clear that an alimony determination must be based on a party’s net income. Citing Conlin v. Conlin, 212 So. 3d 487, 488 (Fla. 2d DCA 2017). The trial court’s failure to do so constituted reversible error.
 
Also, in the final judgment, the trial court awarded the Former Wife $3,500 per month of permanent periodic alimony. However, the Court, in neither its oral pronouncement nor the written final judgment, made a specific factual finding as to the Wife’s monthly “need”. It essentially skipped straight to the monthly amount awarded, which was reversible error. Trial courts must make specific factual findings as to the amount the requesting party actually needs when awarding alimony. Citing O’Connor v. O’Connor, 782 So. 2d 502, 503-04 (Fla. 2d DCA 2001). The Appellate Court specifically reaffirmed that, “where the record does not contain substantial, competent evidence to support the trial court's findings regarding the amount of alimony awarded, the appellate court will reverse the award.” Citing Farley v. Farley, 858 So. 2d 1170, 1172 (Fla. 2d DCA 2003).
 
Additionally, the trial court erred in calculating the Former Husband’s income by including K-1, “pass-through” income generated by Triple A Properties. However, the Former Husband’s unrefuted testimony was that Triple A Properties retains its profits to reinvest into additional properties and only distributes funds to its shareholders in amounts sufficient to cover the taxes on their respective shares of the profits. 
 
As pointed out by the Appellate Court, the seminal case on this issue is Zold v. Zold, 911 So. 2d 1222 (Fla. 2005). In Zold, the Supreme Court held that, “undistributed ‘pass-through’ income that has been retained by a corporation for corporate purposes does not constitute income within the meaning of chapter 61.” Therefore, the trial court was obligated to utilize a factors-based test to determine if the profits were being retained for a corporate purpose. Accordingly, the trial court’s failure to consider the Zold factors constituted reversible error.
 
The Court reversed the portions of the final judgment awarding the Former Wife alimony and remanded for further proceedings consistent with this Court’s opinion.
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