Hello October! With only two months of 2021 remaining, the Family Law Section is not slowing down! For those desirous of honing their trial skills, the sold-out Trial Advocacy Seminar in Tampa is taking place right now in Tampa (see a few photos below!)  Thank you to Andrea Reid, Sonja Jean, and Elisha Roy, the Workshop Chairs, as well as our Historian, Laura Davis-Smith, who have organized an exciting opportunity for participants to challenge themselves and improve their litigation skills. 

Soon thereafter, Reuben Doupé and Ronald Kauffman are holding an interactive discussion on key Florida family law appellate opinions released this past year on October 14, from 12 – 2 PM. Moderated by Jennifer Miller-Morse, this virtual CLE, '2 Lawyers, 1 Law-Family Law Case Law Update 2021,' provides 2 credits and is available for 90-days to ensure that even the busiest practitioners can brush up on recent case law. Register for the webinar HERE.  Then, November 4-7, the Section will hold its In-State Retreat at Hilton Marco Island Beach Resort and Spa. Join us for Fantastic*Fun*Family*Frolic*Food*Friends*Flip-Flops and recharge in time for the busy holiday season. The Section is grateful to the Retreat’s Chairs, Kristin Kirkner and Christopher Rumbold, who have planned a Retreat to remember. Of course, all COVID-19 safety protocols, as set forth by the CDC, will be in place during all live events. 
In continuation of this year’s theme of Positivity and Kindness, the Section has doubled the number of scholarships available for attendance at the 2022 Marital & Family Board Certification Review to 42 scholarships! The deadline for applications is this Monday, October 11 at 5:00 PM.

1 Click HERE to download the application. Once completed, return it to [email protected] and [email protected]. If you have not already registered for this Course, please reserve your spot immediately – space is filling up (a wait list for this event will undoubtedly be necessary.) The Review Course will be held January 21-22 at Gaylord Palms Resort in Orlando. 
As always, the Section looks forward to continuing this year’s theme of Positivity and Kindness in all our efforts as we strive to represent Florida families to the best of our abilities.
1 Applicants must be a member in good standing with the Florida Bar, and an active member of the Family Law Section of the Florida Bar. Additional requirements are outlined on the application.

Heather L. Apicella, Chair, 2021-2022
2 Lawyers, 1 Law
Family Law Case Law Update 2021

Join board-certified Marital & Family Law experts, Reuben Doupe, Esq. and Ronald Kauffman, Esq., for an interactive discussion on key Florida family law appellate opinions in 2021. Topics will include modifications, parenting, alimony, equitable distribution, child support, relocation, enforcement, contempt, paternity, attorney's fees, and disciplinary and ethical considerations.

Register HERE!
The Family Law Section is offering 42 scholarships the 2022 Marital & Family Law Board Certification Review Course January 21-22 in Orlando - but hurry - the deadline for applications is Monday, Oct. 11, at 5 p.m.

You must be a member in good standing of the Florida Bar, and an active member of the Family Law Section of the Florida Bar.

Additional requirements are outlined in the application, which can be downloaded HERE.
Join your fellow Section members and Family Law peers (in person!) for our signature programs and events in 2021-2022. We look forward to seeing you soon!

Thurs., October 14, 12:00PM - 2:00PM: CLE Webinar - 2 Lawyers, 1 Law: 2021 Family Law Case Law Update 2021. 2CLE Credits. Register HERE.


Thurs., November 4 - Sun., November 7: In-State Retreat at the Hilton Marco Island Beach Resort and Spa. Learn more HERE.

Fri., January 21 - Sat., January 22: Annual Marital and Family Law Review Course, in partnership with AAML, at Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center, Orlando. Register HERE.

Wed., April 20 - Sun., April 24, 2022: Out-of-State Retreat at the Vintage House at The Estate Yountville, CA. Learn more HERE.

The Family Law Section is committed to supporting causes and issues that align with our mission of helping Florida families. We are honored to announce three recent contributions:

  • $75,000 to the Florida Bar Foundation in support of Children's Legal Services
  • $5,000 to the victims of the Surfside Condominium tragedy
  • $2,500 Florida Chapter of Family and Conciliation Courts

We look forward to continuing our Section's initiatives in the year ahead. Thank you for your membership, and thank you to our sponsors - your involvement in the Section is more appreciated than you know!
Our Biennial Trial Advocacy Workshop is going on right now! More than 100 Family Law professionals from around the state are participating in sessions and workshops led by our state's leading experts, sharing pro tips on how to hone their skills during trials. A few 'live' photos are below, and more will be posted on our website gallery soon!
On September 9, 2021, the Supreme Court of Florida adopted amendments to the Rule Regulating Florida Bar 4-7.19, Evaluation of Advertisements, as proposed by the Florida Bar. Pursuant to the amendments, those submitting advertisements for the Bar’s review will soon no longer be required to stamp correspondence and send to the Bar’s headquarters in Tallahassee as the submission process is preparing to go virtual. 

Stay tuned for updated instructions on the Florida Bar’s website. In the interim, you may review the revised Rule in In Re: Amendments to Rule Regulating the Florida Bar 4-7.19, No. SC21-775, September 9, 2021 HERE.
By: Cash Eaton, Esq., B.C.S.

Whitfield v. Meeks, 2021 WL 2978910 (Fla. 1st DCA 2021)
In Meeks, the Petitioner/Appellee Haley Meeks filed a petition for injunction for protection against dating violence on behalf of herself and her minor son. At the final hearing, the Petitioner testified that she had dated the Respondent and there were three incidents of violence between the parties. The first incident occurred sometime before May 2019 and involved the Respondent putting his hands around the Petitioner’s neck. The second incident took place in May 2019 and involved the Respondent ripping off the Petitioner’s necklace, taking her phone, throwing her phone outside, throwing her against the truck and choking her. The third incident happened in September 2019, on the day the petition was filed. During the third incident, the Respondent went to the Petitioner’s workplace after she blocked his phone calls and was “threatening.” When the Petitioner’s boss made him leave, the Respondent slammed his truck's door against the side of her car, causing a large dent in it and tearing off the mirror. However, the Petitioner admitted that in September 2019, shortly before filing the petition, she visited Appellant at his house with her son and she invited the Respondent and his family to the child's birthday party.
The Respondent admitted to getting angry and arguing with the Petitioner, but he denied allegations of violence. When the Respondent called his next witness, the trial court did not allow their testimony. The trial court pronounced that the Respondent’s witnesses were related to specific incidents, but that the Court was not basing its ruling on these incidents. Instead, it was basing its ruling on other issues and its belief that the Respondent was lying when there was a clear basis for an injunction. The trial court entered a 5 year injunction.
To obtain an injunction against dating violence, the petitioner must prove with competent, substantial evidence that she has reasonable cause to believe that she is in imminent danger of another future act of dating violence. Nuila v. Stolp, 188 So. 3d 105, 106 (Fla. 5th DCA 2016)see also Schultz v. Moore, 282 So. 3d 152, 153 (Fla. 5th DCA 2019). “In determining whether reasonable cause exists, ‘the trial court must consider the current allegations, the parties’ behavior within the relationship, and the history of the relationship as a whole. Brungart v. Pullen, 296 So. 3d 973, 976 (Fla. 2d DCA 2020). The Appellate Court held that due to the remoteness of these events, especially considering that the Court advised that its ruling was not based on the most recent event, there was no basis to find the Petitioner was in imminent danger of a future act of dating violence. Further, there was no specific facts to show how the Petitioner’s son was in danger of future violence. Therefore, there was not sufficient evidence to enter the injunction and the trial court was reversed.
Also, it is important to note that the Appellate Court admonished the trial court for not providing the Respondent a “full hearing”. Due process requires that at an injunction hearing, “the parties have a reasonable opportunity to prove or disprove the allegations made in the complaint, including ‘allowing relevant testimony of pertinent, noncumulative witnesses who are present and cross-examination of the parties. Therefore, the trial court violated the Respondent’s due process rights.
By: Fritznie Jarbath, Esq.

How smart is your home? Maybe a little too smart.
Raise your virtual hands if you’re wondering if your smart home is spying on you. Imagine if you have to worry about an Ex spying on you . . . in the middle of a divorce / custody battle . . . in mediation, discussing private & confidential information . . . or talking to your lawyer about case strategy?
While there’s an avenue to punish bad behavior, prevention is key. Here are 3 tips to prevent this spying disaster.
  • Identify smart devices in your home that can observe behavior and detect audio. Now make it STOP! The fool-proof method is to turn it off AND unplug it. This takes care of the immediate power source. (If your home has a ghost, I can’t help you there). Don’t forget about the back-up power source. These things are getting smarter and smarter. Block the camera lens and turn off the camera. Don’t forget audio. Put the speakers in a place where it can’t pick up your sound. Move it to another room. . . at the bottom of the hamper, if you’re still concerned about the microphone’s picking up sound.
  • Change ALL passwords. Don’t assume your Ex can’t guess your password. According to Google, only 35% of people use different passwords across all accounts. Change your password to something random or use password generating software. Avoid using a computer or phone that your Ex could had access to in the past (in case they installed spyware and can track your keystrokes).
  • If all else fails, go elsewhere to have the conversation with your lawyer or to attend mediation where you cannot not be observed (with hopefully no smart home devices around to spy on you).
By: Robin Scher, Esq.

Domestic Violence Awareness month is observed in the month of October. It was first observed in 1987, the year the first national domestic violence toll-free hotline was established. 

Domestic Violence, as a national health crisis, exists continually within society and was exacerbated by the global coronavirus pandemic. In Florida, 2020 brought 106,515 of reported incidents of domestic violence including 198 homicides and 19 manslaughters that resulted in the deaths of 45 children.1

Family and domestic violence (including child abuse, intimate partner abuse, and elder abuse) are estimated to affect 10 million people in the United States every year. Domestic violence does not discriminate, affecting people regardless of gender, age, race, religion, national origin, sexual orientation and socio-economic status. Family law practitioners cannot escape the likelihood that many of our clients are affected by domestic violence. 

Continual education for family law practitioners is essential for competent representation including not only domestic violence laws and the impact domestic violence may have on non-injunction-related family law cases, but also on the dynamics of family and domestic violence, how the domestic violence perpetrator, victim and survivor present, and recognizing our limitations in providing legal assistance to the domestic violence-related matters. Secondary trauma is a real and significant concern for professionals working with survivors of violence. While we champion awareness for domestic violence and prevention during the month of October, we may also consider our own personal inventory and self-care as a result of the important advocacy we do within the family courts. 

If you or a client need resources, call 1.800.799.7233, text “start” to 88788 or visit thehotline.org.

1 Unreleased stats from Florida DCF.
The Family Law Section’s mentoring program has been expanded to make more mentors available, facilitate connections between mentors and mentees, and create an opportunity for Section members to become better lawyers. Stay tuned for future updates on changes being made to better serve our members. And in the meantime, ifIf you are a Section member interested in serving as a mentor and have been practicing family law for at least 5 years and are interested in serving as a mentor, or if you are a Section member interested in obtaining a mentor, please email [email protected] to be added to our mentor list. Likewise, if you are a Section member interested in obtaining a mentor, please email [email protected].
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 [email protected] 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 [email protected] for more information. Thank you for your interest in contributing to our member publications!