I cannot believe that this is the last FAMSEG message to the Section before Chair-Elect General Magistrate Phil Wartenberg is installed as the Chair of the Family Law Section! 

I am so thankful to each and every member of the Executive Committee, Executive Council, Committee Chairs/Co-Chairs, Committee Vice Chairs/Co-Vice Chairs, and each and every one of our Section members for such an amazing year! I am so proud to have served as your Chair as we all cumulatively transitioned from quarantining to in-person events and meetings! I would especially like to thank our Section Administrator, Willie Mae Shepard, because she had a hand in every one of the Section’s successes.  

I hope that you join us for the Family Law Section’s Annual Meeting being held at the Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek, Orlando Florida on Wednesday, June 22 in conjunction with the 2022 Annual Florida Bar Convention at Signia by Hilton Bonnet Creek & Waldorf Astoria. The Family Law Section’s Committee Meetings and Annual Awards and Installation Luncheon will be held on Wednesday, June 22; and the Section’s Executive Council Meeting will be held on Thursday, June 23. Please make sure you secure your ticket for the Section’s Awards & Installation Luncheon where General Magistrate Philip Wartenberg will be sworn in as the Section’s Chair for the 2022-2023 bar year! 
Thank you for allowing me this wonderful opportunity to work with you. The Section has been such a rewarding experience for me and so many others, and I hope you take the following quote as encouragement to get involved:

“Don’t join an easy crowd; you won’t grow. Go where the expectations and the demands to perform are high.” ~Jim Rohn 

Heather L. Apicella
Chair, 2021-2022
We can't wait to see you in Orlando for the Family Law Section’s Annual Meeting, being held in conjunction with the 2022 Annual Florida Bar Convention!

The Section’s Committee Meetings will be held on Wednesday, June 22, 2022; and the Executive Council Meeting will be held on Thursday, June 23, 2022.

CLICK HERE for a PDF/downloadable Committee Meeting Schedule with room locations.
Did you know the Family Law Section:

  • Contributes $75K annually to Children's Legal Services through the Florida Bar Foundation
  • Contributes $35K annually for Board Certification Review and Trial Advocacy Workshop scholarships
  • Is the largest donor to the Florida Bar Foundation of any Bar Section

Our Section firmly believes that by helping those who help and advocate for others, our members, our profession, and, most importantly – Florida families, will benefit. Every dollar we allocate to charitable giving ultimately helps those families we work on behalf of every day.

Learn more about our charitable giving program HERE.
By: John Foster, Esq.

My grandchildren call me “SurfDaddy” because at 69 years of age surfing is one of the passions that I remain committed to for my health & wellness. Now, at 69, you sometimes believe that you have seen it all and cannot be surprised; however, in January, I was quite surprised (and honored and humbled) when I learned that the Orange County Bar Association had somehow selected me as the 2022 recipient of the William Trickel Jr. Professionalism Award.

As I was preparing my acceptance speech, I happened upon the March/April 2022 issue of The Bencher, the magazine published by the American Inns of Court. The March/April issue was entitled “Wellness in the Legal Profession” and is well worth a read by us all.
My reading of that issue ultimately led me to comment during my acceptance speech on the connection between professionalism and our Health & Wellness.

One article at page 6 of the March/April publication of The Bencher was particularly insightful. It was entitled, “Lawyer Well-Being and the Relation to Diminished Civility”, and stated, in pertinent part, the following: “The profession is suffering, and the links between health, wellness, and civility are clear. It is up to judges and practitioners to address this crisis head-on by modifying behaviors, shoring up relationships, and building new opportunities. This can only be done in an environment of civility, collegiality, and empathy, and it is up to the legal profession to build this environment together.

Indeed, the traits of professionalism and civility within our profession become more and more important every day. Overdose deaths in 2021 topped 100,000. And, because of the stressors and other factors inherent in the practice of law, particularly including family law, the statistics or percentages for substance abuse and mental health issues in our profession exceed that of the general population.

I am convinced that professionalism and civility in our practices and toward our colleagues can help reduce the stressors that we as lawyers face in our practices and, thus, reduce the high percentages that plague our profession relative to alcoholism, substance abuse and mental health issues. So, my hope is that we each help promote the Health & Wellness of our colleagues (and ourselves) by making these traits, professionalism and civility, inherent parts of our practices and lives!

NOTE: John Foster’s remarks during his acceptance speech were published at page 6 of the Orange County Bar Association’s May 2022 publication of the Brief’s, and some of those remarks are included in this article of FAMSEG
By: Rob McLain, Esq.

Love them or hate them, remote depositions are here to stay. While there are times that only an in-person deposition will suffice, remote depositions are often more convenient, and, for witnesses in another county or state, always less expensive for the client. Here are some tips to get the most out of your next one.

Match Your Platform with Your Provider. Different court reporting companies use a different video conferencing software. If you are a Zoom wizard and your local reporter uses WebEx, shop around. Like the Florida Supreme Court emergency order it replaced, the newly enacted Fla. Stat. 117.231 allows notaries to remotely swear witnesses. Your notary doesn’t have to be in the same location as you or the witness, you can select a court reporter anywhere in the state. Give yourself the advantage of using the platform you prefer.

Secure the Room. A witness who can be sworn in remotely is also a witness who can be surreptitiously coached or influenced. Zoom is good for a lot of things, but getting an accurate view of an entire room isn’t one of them. My office isn’t necessarily that clean and your witness isn't necessarily that alone. Ask. Make your witness commit that they are alone and that they will tell you if someone else comes in. Make sure to ask if they have anyone in the room with them, and instruct them put away communication devices. Hopefully, your opposing counsel knows better, but you don’t want your witness communicating with their lawyer during their testimony. It happens. See, Florida Bar v. James, 329 So. 3d 108 (Fla. 2021).

Pass Notes in Class. All of us have had the experience of trying to decipher a client’s handwritten notes during a deposition. The witness may not be able to speak to their lawyer during their testimony, but your client (or expert) can and should help you as you question your witness. Messaging programs are vastly better than cursive. Just remember that at some point, you will probably share your screen. To avoid sharing your client’s messages with everyone on the Zoom, consider using another device (for example, an iPad with a keyboard).

Double Your Real Estate. Consider using a second monitor. That way, you can have your camera and things you don’t want to share on one screen, and things you do on another. In addition to giving you more workspace, two monitors reduces the likelihood of sharing the wrong document.

Make the Most of PDF. Often, your exhibits will be in PDF format. PDFs do more than just replicate paper. You can bookmark key sections of your exhibit, just like with paper, and you can also make the entire text searchable (In Acrobat, select the Scan and OCR tool, then click the “recognize text” button). This is particularly useful when dealing with voluminous records such as bank statements. Want to ask your client’s soon to be ex about multiple transfers to a specific bank account? Crtl+F and type the last few digits of the account number. Still don’t see the value in technology? Try doing that with paper. 
Robin Scher is a valuable and long-time active member of the Family Law Section, for which she currently serves on the Executive Council and the Client Solicitation Ad Hoc Committee. 

Robin has devotedly served as Chair and Co-Chair of a number of Committees including the Domestic Violence Committee, Publications Committee, Mentoring Committee, Membership Committee, Rules and Forms Committee, and the Technology, Practice Development, Membership Committee. Robin has additionally served as a member of the Section’s Legislation Committee, worked on countless forms approved by the Supreme Court for Family Law Rules, served as a member of the Continuing Legal Education Committee and was a member of the Section’s Probate Jurisdictional Subcommittee to address issues when family court and probate court issues overlap. 

This monthly e-newsletter that you are reading, Robin was one of the Section members that had a profound role in its creation, including the service as one of FAMSEG’s Editors. She also served as an Associate Editor of the Commentator, updated the Section with Domestic Violence Case Law Updates, and worked on the Domestic Violence Pamphlet, both the Respondent and Petitioner’s pamphlets, issued by the Florida Bar. 

Robin has dedicated countless hours to the Section’s Mentorship Program, has been involved with the Minority Mentoring Picnic and co-authored Litigation Budgets and Affidavits in Support of a Request for Temporary Attorney’s Fees and Costs, with Susan W. Savard, March 2009 Commentator, and A Legal Trailblazer: the Honorable Amy Beth Karan authored along with Amy Consentino in the Fall 2013 Commentator. 

She has served as a member of Palm Beach County Bar Association, including serving as a member of its north County Section Law Week Committee and the Family Law Unified Family Court Practice Committee. Robin is also a member of the Palm Beach County Chapter of the Florida Association of Women Lawyers and has previously worked with Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach County. 

The Section could not thank Robin more for her years of service. She was deservedly awarded with the Section’s Unsung Hero Award and was the recipient of the Section’s Spotlight Awards, an award given to Section members that have provided a positive impact and outstanding service to the Section.
We are so grateful to our Section sponsors! Thank you for your ongoing support of our members and mission.

If your business would like to reach nearly 4,000 Family Law professionals through our various communications platforms and in-person and virtual events, we invite you to consider Section sponsorship. To learn more about benefits and levels, email sponsorship@familylawfla.org or click HERE to learn more.
If you have a topic of interest regarding Family Law and you'd like to submit an article for our monthly e-Newsletter, FAMSEG, or our quarterly publication, The Commentator, email publications@familylawfla.org for more information. Thank you for your interest in contributing to our member publications!