The Florida Bar Family Law Section Monthly Newsletter
Please submit news and articles to FAMSEG Editor Ron Kauffman.

Abigail M. Beebe
Family Law Section members:  It has been a true honor to serve as the 2018-2019 Chair of this amazing Section of The Florida Bar.  A lot and nothing seemingly have happened this year, making this year deceivingly uneventful.  We did manage to defeat or at least evade an alimony bill that just did not have the stamina to survive Tallahassee this term.  I urge you to educate yourselves on this important legal and legislative issue and follow the Family Law Section's messages regarding alimony in the coming sessions.  The Section worked hard to educate citizens of this state, legislators, their staffs, our clients and others on the important legal impact alimony has on any family or couple amidst divorce or a modification of a divorce final judgement. 
In January, the Marital and Family Law Review Course was a huge success with 1,800 attendees, our highest-attended event in the history of the Family Law Section. The review course provided invaluable materials and information to all in attendance in addition to the absolutely incredible lineup of speakers. This year, the Section hosted our biannual Leadership Retreat in conjunction with our fall meetings at the Colony Hotel in Palm Beach, an out-of-state retreat in Nashville, and an in-state retreat at Ocean Reef Club in Key Largo.  All of the events were very well attended, fun, educational and allowed us to enjoy the company of our colleagues in beautiful scenery. 
When I began this year, I spoke about remembering why it was I became involved with the Family Law Section and I urged all of you to look for that reason, the push, the drive to keep you returning, even if it is just to read FAMSEG each month. But what I learned this year and in searching for my purpose with the Section, is that the people, relationships, mentors and friends you meet along your journey shape the person and lawyer you become.  You find yourself migrating to those issues of similar interest, attending the same events together--- and you ultimately find your place, your purpose and your reason for your continued participation and commitment.  I know that in addition to that reason, another main reason I have remained an active participant with the Section was to ensure my seat at any table where the issues I am passionate about are discussed.  I hope if nothing else stands out to you, then it is this:  In this journey or any other journey you embark on, make sure you MAKE YOUR MARK! Leave your footprint and fight for those issues that mean something to you. 
Throughout this Bar year, each month I am supposed to provide some form of a "Chair's Message" in our electronic newsletter, FAMSEG, which is then provided to each and every member and affiliate member of the Family Law Section.  This means the message is intended to reach more than 3,700 people.  Since June 2018 when I was sworn in as Chair of the Family Law Section, I have attempted to provide messages to whomever is reading about life, lessons, people, our profession, marital and family lawyers' health, wellness and overall well-being.  As this year concludes in just a few short weeks, I am instead going to share some of my thoughts about how biting your tongue or even silence can be so empowering and powerful as tools in taking the "high road."
I give you my little piece of advice, which I am providing to you in hopes that it sticks.  My last Chair's message of my term is something that is SO hard for me to do in practice but know that I need to.  I am sure we can all agree that at times, when hastily typing that email response at midnight, you feel so good about your words, your tone and what you are writing that in your mind, unquestionably, this email is undoubtedly a literary work of art and publishable. IT IS NOT!  SO DON'T HIT SEND!  Trust me!  I am pretty sure this is called staying on the high road when the low road is calling.
Sure, the high road has less traffic, which is a life philosophy that says you should maintain your cool, moral compass, your code of ethics, professional obligations and your values at all times. Taking the high road means you are able to look yourself in the mirror and be proud of how you acted, or reacted, in light of trying situations. It means that you had an opportunity to respond with nasty behavior ---even if it would be considered equally nasty --- and you chose not to.  Unfortunately, so often, especially in our practice, people start to believe that if other people are taking the low road, then they are completely justified in joining them.
"Like, 'I know what an 'emergency' is, but last week when Mr. X did it, the Judge granted a hearing and they got their client essentially what they wanted, so I am going to file it anyway. If X can do it and look like a hero, I can do it, too!" 
"I know that I do not need my paralegal to attend every event with me, but my client pays the bill without any questions, so why not just bill more?" 
"Mrs. D is always lying to her client and the Judge and never gets reprimanded or anything, instead she just keeps getting more cases! So why shouldn't I just lie or misrepresent the facts/law on this issue?" 
"Mr. Smith wrote me this 'jerk' letter today to show off to his client; wait until you see the response he gets from me ..."
Yes, these are all things that I have heard first-hand and these are the types of challenges we face daily--- low-road behavior and the normal human reaction of wanting to respond similarly.   

Does responding negatively in return make it right? I don't think so. Sure, it may make you feel better in the short term, but what are the long-term effects? Revenge can feel therapeutic. Writing a nasty letter may be a momentary release of anger, which feels great, but is it? Our natural response tends to be fire back, fire hard and "one-up them." If you are referring to a colleague or even a client, the costs can be long term and have huge, unintended consequences. 
I also argue that you are the one who has to live with the consequences of your low-road behavior. You don't want to be embarrassed by how you responded. Did you do something in the heat of the moment that you now regret? Did you look and act like a lunatic? Being able to stand confidently in how you responded to a negative situation is a pretty honorable place to be, and a testament to your character. "Yes," said one person recently, "I get all that, but at the end of the day, it's like banging my head against the wall over and over again ... I take the high road, and he doesn't. It gets old. It gets frustrating. What am I supposed to do?" That is such a tough situation to be in, and the only answer I can offer is that two wrongs don't make a right.
I know it sounds trivial, elementary, and so much easier to say than to put into practice, but this advice is the best I can offer. What I can say from personal experiences is that you really will feel better in the future when you look back and know that you made the best choice in a bad position for you, your client or otherwise, and know that you made the right decision for your character and your reputation. Thank you for allowing me to be your Chair, for the opportunity to serve Florida's Families on all legal issues, and for my seat at this table. 
Abigail M. Beebe, West Palm Beach
2018-2019 Chair, Family Law Section of The Florida Bar
Supreme Court Replaces Frye With Daubert In Evidence Rules
From The Florida Bar News:

On its own authority, the Florida Supreme Court has revisited and reversed its 2017 opinion and approved using the "Daubert" standard in the procedural evidence rules to qualify expert testimony and witnesses in trials.

The May 23 opinion overturned the 2017 opinion which had declined to procedurally adopt the Legislature's 2013 law making Daubert part of the state's evidence code (F.S. Chap. 90).

In a separate case in controversy last year (DeLisle v. Crane Co., 258 So. 3d 1221 (Fla. 2018)), the court specifically rejected the Daubert standard and reaffirmed that Florida would continue to follow the "Frye" standard on expert testimony as it has used for decades.

The 5-2 per curiam opinion produced a dissent from Justice Robert Luck, who said the court failed to follow its own rules and procedures in reversing the 2017 opinion without asking for any outside input. Justice Jorge Labarga, part of the 2017 majority, also dissented saying he consider Frye the superior standard for qualifying expert testimony.
Only 14 Spots Remaining for the 2019 Trial Advocacy Workshop
Thursday, July 25 - Sunday, July 28 Tampa Marriott Water Street.  Live presentation. Course No. 3186R. Attendance is limited to 80 registrants. No on-site registration. More details below.
Family Law Section Awards & Installation Luncheon, Committee and Executive Council Meetings
Join your section colleagues and friends at the 69th Annual Florida Bar Annual Convention June 26-29 at Boca Raton Resort and Club. Family Law Section committees and the Executive Council are meeting and the section is hosting its Annual Awards & Installation Luncheon. To buy luncheon tickets, you must register for the Annual Convention (no charge) and select the June 26, 2019, 12 PM luncheon as one of your paid events. Tickets are $50.
  • Register for the convention and reserve your spot at the FLS luncheon. (Requires login to your Florida Bar member portal.)
  • View the committee meetings schedule.
  • Download the free Annual Convention app.
The membership breakfast is Wednesday, June 26, 8-9:30 AM, in Addison Ballroom West. Section committee meetings take place all day on June 26, followed by a 5-7 PM membership reception in Royal Palm Ballroom l. The Executive Council meets Thursday, June 27 from 9 AM to 4 PM in Venetia l/ll. We hope to see you there!
Thank You to the Sponsors of the Family Law Section In-State Retreat at  Ocean Reef Club in Key Largo
Thank you to  Florida Appeals and  Ellrich, Neal, Smith & Stohlman, P.A. for sponsoring the section's In-State Retreat in April. We greatly appreciate your support for the Family Law Section!


Renew Your Family Law Section Membership
The Florida Bar's 2019-20 annual fee season is open and you now are able to pay your dues online. Don't forget to include your Family Law Section dues so you can continue to enjoy the many great benefits the section offers!
  • Excellent monthly CLEs at discounted pricing for section members.
  • Leadership and statewide networking through our numerous committees and the Executive Council.
  • Publication opportunities in the quarterly Commentator magazine for scholarly articles related to family law.
  • Camaraderie and networking during the section's in-state, out-of-state and leadership retreats.
  • Numerous annual awards that recognize our members for exceptional pro bono and section service.
  • Mentoring and mentorship opportunities.
  • Invaluable contributions by the section and its Legislation Committee to protect Florida's families.
Renew today through your Florida Bar Member Portal.
During The Florida Bar Annual Convention, Boca Raton Resort

Learn how to be a great CLE speaker. Find out the nuts and bolts of creating a CLE program, including recruiting speakers and the requirements for accreditation. Improve the quality of your course materials, boost your personal speaking skills and learn pro tips for using audiovisual materials. Course classification: Basic. Course No. 3205. 3.0 General CLE hours. Sign up through Florida Bar Annual Convention registration.
Upcoming CLE
Only 14 spots remaining! In-person, live event.  Register online now

Make plans to attend the 2019 Trial Advocacy Workshop in July. Hone your trial skills as you prepare and present a family law case from beginning to end. Choose between a "Children's Issues" track or a "Financial Issues" track (preferences will be considered but are not guaranteed). Get details The Trial Advocacy Workshop always sells out, so take this opportunity to change the way you approach a contested family law proceeding and sharpen your trial tools. For those hoping to become board certified or recertified in Marital and Family Law, remember that completion of the Trial Advocacy Workshop counts toward your trial requirement. View event brochure .

Course No. 3186. General CLE: 29.5 hours; Ethics: 2.0 hours; Technology: 1.0 hours. Certification Program (max credit 29.5 hours): Marital and Family Law: 29.5 hours. Family Law Section members $940. Non-section members $995.
Stephens' Squibs by Eddie Stephens

Squib of the Month:

Bowen v. Bowen,  44 Fla.L.Weekly D957 (Fla. 1 st  DCA 2019). Trial Court erred dividing parties' closed business 50/50, despite dearth of evidence of businesses value.
YLD Stigma Free Campaign
During the month of May, The Florida Bar Young Lawyers Division focused on mental health and wellness for lawyers through its #StigmaFreeYLD campaign to help end the stigma over mental health and illness in our profession. 

If you haven't taken the time to watch the compelling videos and access the wealth of available resources, you should. Hear the stories about attorneys just like you who have struggled with mental illness. By taking action and seeking help, they have built successful practices and found true enjoyment. Learn  how stress, anxiety, and mental illness may be affecting your practice and your life.

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Your Tech Toolkit: One Thing In, One Thing Out
If you haven't yet tackled your office spring cleaning, here's some advice from six practice management pros on what to add and what to let go.
  • Add encryption; give up fax machines. All lawyers should have the ability to encrypt their electronic communications. The article recommends several affordable email solutions and electronic fax solutions.
  • In with the personal; out with the impersonal. Add more interpersonal interactions like listening, empathy, understanding and personal connection. Let go of impersonal processes, online forms, automation and detached communication done via technology.
  • Say yes to more breaks; say no to burnout. Let go of 24/7 work and intentionally build breaks into your day to get out of your space, move around or practice deep breathing.
  • Add true practice management functionality; let go of thinking you don't need training. If your practice management system isn't managing all of your operations because you don't know how to use it, it's time to take control. Learn how to add on integrations that truly expand the functionality of your program for automated intake, docketing, legal research or general ledger accounting.
  • Let go of shiny object syndrome; ask four questions. Do you buy the newest product or novel gizmo without asking anything more than "Can I afford it?" The next time you're tempted to buy a shiny new tech toy, refer to the article's four questions on "Do I really need it?"
Chelsea Miller in Ireland
Rossway Swan Tierney Barry Lacey & Oliver, Vero Beach

Who is someone who inspires you?  My mother. She is the epitome of strength and has always overcome adversity with grace and elegance. Growing up, she made sure that I knew that I could achieve whatever goals I set for myself and she encouraged me every step of the way. I am definitely lucky to have her in my corner.
How do you define success?  Success to me is defined as reaching happiness both personally and professionally.
Why do you practice family law?  I went to law school intending to practice family law upon graduation. This is an area of law where the clients are going through one of the most difficult experiences in their life and they look to you for guidance and support throughout the process. It is rewarding to help get the family unit to a better spot for the future.
What is something few people know about you?  I have been sky-diving and would do it again in a heartbeat. It was one of the most exhilarating experiences I have ever had.
Favorite quote? "Be the change you wish to see in the world."
Favorite family law case?  I don't have a favorite family law case just yet; but, one of my favorite cases from law school is Loving v. Virginia.
Favorite book and why?  I do not spend too much time reading in my free time so if I do, it has to be light-hearted and entertaining. To that end, I would have to say any of Chelsea Handler's books are great for that!
Favorite TV show and why?  This is Us - I love the family dynamics portrayed throughout the series and watching the family unit persevere. It can be quite the tear-jerker.
Favorite song lyric?  "You may say that I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one." John Lennon
Favorite superhero?  Believe it or not, I am not a fan of superhero movies.
Best place you have traveled?  Ireland. I vacationed there for my 30th birthday with my best friend and it was everything I thought it would be. The people were friendly, the scenery was picturesque and the weather in the Fall was perfect. I can't wait to go back!
Proudest accomplishment within the section?  Being chosen to serve on the Executive Council.

What benefits do you receive as a result of your section participation?  I enjoy meeting other family law practitioners from around the state. I am based out of Vero Beach and it is a fairly small town so it is nice to have the opportunity to speak with other family law practitioners and to learn from them. I also enjoy working behind the scenes to help make an impact in our section.
Something we did not know about you?  I am an identical twin.
Coffee or tea? Both .
If you were stranded on a desert island, what three items could you not live without? My dog (Zoey), a phone and a fully stocked boat (to leave).
The Family Law Section WANTS YOU to write for one of three publications: 
  • JournalTo be considered for publication in The Florida Bar Journal, the article 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. Articles could range from substantive articles to advice about lifestyle and wellness.
  • FAMSEG: Have an announcement? Pictures of a section event? FAMSEG is your place! Please contact Editor Ron Kauffman.
For more information about section publications, please contact Publications Committee Co-chairs Laura Davis Smith or Sonja Jean.
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