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

Abigail M. Beebe
Happy  last month  of 2018!

In a world overcome with competition in the workplace, competition for jobs, competition for bonuses, raises, recognition or being named partner; even competition to get a case, retain a client and to win; personally, as lawyers, we argue, fight and play offense and defense, all of the time. Recently, I came across an article about lawyers and mental health and I was shocked by the content and felt compelled to share with you all. Interestingly, when discussing attorneys, the reports indicate that we have the highest rate of depression of any other occupational group in the country! In fact, a study of more than 100 professions indicated that attorneys are 3.6 times as likely to be depressed in comparison to other professionals. For instance, surgeons clearly experience stress, however, being an attorney is almost akin to having another surgeon across the table from you trying to undo your operation. In the legal field, we are unfortunately financially rewarded for being hostile. This hostile "work" environment, transcends to the way we react, interact with each other, deal with personal problems and professional issues. I know, often times, I am accused of feeling personally offended, in a professional environment. I admit I am guilty of this. Call it a personality flaw or trait and one that is not able to be carved out and left at home, every single day of my professional career. So, this year, one of things I want to work on, is "get along better with others" or at times we say in jest, "play nice in the sand box."

Let's talk about "resolutions." As I admitted, one of mine is to "work better with others." In my personal and professional life, I am often confronted with adversaries, such as opposing counsels, clients, colleagues and even peers in other positions, socially and, unfortunately even in volunteer settings.  

I firmly believe it is absolutely possible to build productive relationships with even the most adversarial of individuals. Regardless of a person's original intent, opinion or position, the key to closing a positional gap is simply a matter of finding common ground in order to establish rapport. Building rapport is easily achieved assuming your motivations for doing so are sincere. I have found, although not always easy, that rapport is quickly developed when you listen, care, and attempt to help people succeed.

While building and maintaining rapport with people with whom you disagree is certainly more challenging, many of the same rules still apply. I have found that often times, conflict resolution simply just requires more intense focus on understanding the needs, wants and desires of the other person. If opposing views are worth the time and energy to debate, then they are worth a legitimate effort to gain alignment on perspective and resolution on position. However, this will rarely happen if lines of communication do not remain open. Candid, effective communication is best maintained through a mutual respect and rapport.
What seems to be lacking among professionals in the legal field, is mutual respect. I find that the most frustrating thing in this profession, is the blatant and adversarial nature of lawyers interactions with one another across the board. The inability of all of us, as professionals, to step back, take a deep breath and stop with the ugly, abrasive, chest thumping, name calling, letter writing, campaigns of attack and simple disrespect toward one another. It is astonishing to me!

We are all representing clients, running practices, working for others, employing others, all while also being involved in cases, that by their nature are conflict oriented, inevitably resulting in litigation. Litigation, which is stressful, time consuming and severely intense, for all, in and of itself, and this is just our "day job." Many of us also have families, friends and other personal and professional commitments. 

At times, I often tell myself, step back, take a deep breath, realize that my professional reputation is important, came with a lot of hard work, professional development and being committed to my practice. Our reputations are important, but we need not forget, that "reputation" is among both other professionals, as well as clients. Of course, clients are important to all of us, but it is, colleagues, peers, judges and others who are equally, if not, more important to our client-based reputations. Remember that the next time you personally attack another, bash an opposing lawyer, the other party in a case or socially degrade another person, to gain some perceived benefit, it is not worth it. It likely will not accomplish what you feel, in the moment, may be achieved by such acts. All of this, in addition, to those aware of the circumstances, likely will think more highly of you reacting with couth, professionalism and maturity, rather than being abrasive, pounding your chest, name calling, letter writing, campaigns of attack and showing disrespect to another.    

This holiday season, with the New Year approaching, reflect, consider and realize what is important. Apologize to someone whom you've attacked, offended or treated badly; admit your faults, make amends, request a refresh or restart on that relationship, start anew in 2019 with a clean slate, to the best of your ability. It is more rewarding than it sounds, may seem like an impossible feat, but it is overwhelmingly relieving, refreshing and invigorating.

So with this Season of Holidays approaching, our life, as marital and family law attorneys in particular, can be overwhelming, stressful and at times, all consuming. In the interest of keeping this season joyful, in addition to my attempt to reflect, consider and realize, what is important, I vow to apologize to those I may have attacked, offended or treated badly.  I absolutely commit to admitting my own faults, making amends, where possible, and requesting a "restart" with those with whom relationships may have gone awry, or off to a poor start.  I am hoping to start "anew," in 2019, with a clean slate, in those areas of my life that I am able. 

In addition to my proposal for some new year resolutions, suggestions for making efforts to keep to those resolutions, here are a few tips, to try and use, to handle the extra stressors of holidays, as well, to avoid conflict, experience unenjoyable holidays or unnecessary family battles: 

Accept reality.  We are most unhappy when we argue with reality - when we think things should be different than they are. But they aren't. Especially when it comes to dealing with other people. You know, when your in-laws shouldn't comment on the way you parent your children. You wish your brother or sister wouldn't drink so much and be so loud. If your cousins, nieces or nephews were your children, you would not allow them to sit at the dinner table with headphones. But they all do. 

So, accept that these things will happen. Try and develop compassion for these people or, at the very least, the ability to not judge and not be bothered. You'll be much happier.

Keep your sense of humor.  After you've accepted the reality of your holiday environment, remember not to be so serious about it. Oftentimes, these things, that seem so stressful or unbearable, are actually funny later on, when we look back, even if they really were not funny when they were happening. Try to remember that, and go ahead and laugh about it now.

Step away from the chaos.  Simply stepping out of the chaos - to walk, or sit, or meditate, or even exercise - can help you calm your mind and improve your perspective. Whatever makes you feel more mindful and calm, do that. You'll be able to manage your emotions better and connect with others more successfully, remaining calm when you return to the chaos without letting the holiday stress overwhelm you.

Say no sometimes.  Don't try to squeeze in more "holiday" than you can handle -physically or emotionally. We want to, or feel we need to, attend every holiday event. We want to have fun. We want to please others. We want to help. It's the holidays, after all. But sometimes saying no is very important for your well-being. When you are selective, you'll more fully enjoy events because you won't be over-tired or emotionally drained. When you don't attend an event, you can show the hosts you appreciate the invitation by sending a small thank-you gift, like a bottle of wine, flowers or even a nice box of chocolates, along with a handwritten note.

Give yourself a break.  I often say I will do this, want to do this and plan to try, because it's so important. We are all doing the best we can under the circumstances. So give yourself a break. Yes, you want to lose five or ten pounds, but with parties, delicious foods, champagne at every party and desserts after every holiday dinner, give yourself a break if you drink a bit and eat too much. No, you don't want to snap at your siblings, parents or in-laws, when they push our buttons, but we often fall back into family dynamics without even thinking about it. So move on and try to do better.

Whatever you do, do your best, and when you don't, just try again.
Abigail M. Beebe, West Palm Beach
2018-2019 Chair, Family Law Section of The Florida Bar
Willie Mae Shepherd is the Family Law Section's new Program Administrator, the section's liaison to The Florida Bar. Contact her at or (850) 561-5624.
Section Committee Meetings and Executive Council Meeting
Join your colleagues from the Family Law Section  Jan. 23 - 26, 2019 at the Gaylord Palms Resort & Conference Center in Orlando for the 2019 Certification Review Course , section committee meetings and executive council meeting. View the schedule at this link ; we will provide more details on room locations and committee meeting times in the near future. Visit the review course registration page for hotel registration information.
January 23, 2019
  • Certification Review Course Cert Tips & Nibbles (Limited to Registered Test Takers)  4:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.
January 24
  • Family Law Section Committee Meetings  8:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.
  • Certification Review Course 3:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.
  • Early Conference Check-in for the Certification Review Course
January 25
  • The Family Law Section of The Florida Bar and the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, Florida Chapter 2019 Marital & Family Law Review Course
7:00 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. Registration
8:00 a.m. - 5:20 p.m. Seminar
5:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m. Reception
January 26
  • 8:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. Seminar
  • 1:00 p.m. - 5:30 p.m. Family Law Section Executive Council Meeting
Upcoming CLE Opportunities
Gifting in Family Law Cases Unwrapped
Dec. 6  Live Audio Webcast (Noon - 1 p.m.)
Sponsored by LawPay

Joe Hunt , Esq., BCS and  Anthony Phillips , CPA, CFF, ABV unwrap the concept of gifting in family law cases and discuss all issues a family law practitioner should consider when gifts arise such as: using gifts as income for child support and alimony, taxation on gifts, marital and non-marital treatment of gifts, and more.  Section members $75; non-section-members $130. Course #3110 CLE Credits: 1.0 General; 1.0 Marital & Family Law.  REGISTER
Best Practices for Use of Guardians ad Litem and Attorneys ad Litem
 Dec. 13 Live Audio Webcast (Noon - 1:30 p.m.)

Kim Nutter, Esq. and C. Debra Welch, Esq. discuss best practices for uses of guardians ad litem and attorneys ad litem in family law matters. Topics include when to use them, how to address hearsay issues with GALs, examples of effective orders of appointment and the differences between GALs and AALs.  Section members $95; non-section members $150. Course #2964 . CLE credits: 1.5 General, 1.5 Juvenile Law, 1.5 Marital & Family Law. REGISTER
Twelve Tips for a Healthy Practice
Sponsored by LawPay

Presenters will give their top three tips for:
  1. Markers for possible mental health issues in clients and what to do about them.
  2. Markers of possible mental health issues in yourself and what to do about them.
  3. Quick things you can do to promote physical fitness in your day.
  4. Easy things you can do to use nutrition to your advantage.
Moderated by Dori Foster-Morales, presenters include  Dr. Deborah Day,  Dr. Jennifer Mockler Mockler Psychology and  Glenn Greer of Redzone Fitness in Miami. Section members $75, non-section members $130. Course #3109. 1.0 General CLE Credit. REGISTER
REGISTER NOW! January 25-26, 2019

The Florida Bar Family Law Section and Florida AAML's Marital and Family Law Review Course is one of the largest CLE events in the Southeast. Don't miss your opportunity to hear a comprehensive annual review of Florida family law and to network with other family law practitioners from around the state. View the event schedule  and register online.

Registration discounts are available for Family Law Section members, attorneys practicing fewer than five years, Florida registered paralegals, full-time law college faculty and law students and persons attending under the policy of fee waivers ( Supreme Court, DCA, Circuit and County Judges, Magistrates, Judges of Compensation Claims, Administrative Law Judges, and full-time legal aid attorneys if directly related to their client practices).
Stephens' Squibs by Eddie Stephens

Squib of the Month:  

Garrison v. Garrison , 4 3 Fla.L.Weekly D2275 (Fla. 4th DCA 2018).  Even without transcript, Trial Court reversed for distributing closely held corporation 50/50 to parties without valuing it.  It is well settled compelling former spouses to remain in business together constitutes an intolerable situation and is an abuse of discretion.
Florida Bar News: Email Services Rules Change Effective January 1
Read the full article in The Florida Bar News Dec. 1 issue.

Court procedural rules on service via email have been amended, effective January 1, to remove the five extra days allowed for service by regular U.S. mail.

The Supreme Court on October 25 approved time calculation amendments related to email service as suggested by the Rules of Judicial Administration, the Rules of Criminal Procedure, and the Rules of Civil Procedure committees. The court approved some longer response times in the Rules of Appellate Procedure.

Email service rules were adopted in 2009 to encourage lawyers to use the faster way of exchanging documents in cases. As an incentive, the five extra days allowed for delivery by postal service in time calculations were kept for email service, although supporters of the change warned that extra time would eventually be removed.

The new rule changes do that. Supporters have noted that email service itself has been eclipsed to some extent by automatic service accomplished by the court system's statewide electronic filing portal.
Wellness Podcasts 

Thank you to the Family Law Section's Health & Wellness Committee for providing this wellness content for FAMSEG.

Podcasts are becoming more and more popular every day. With our incredibly mobile society, and gadgets all around us, why not search for podcasts on health and wellness? You can listen at your desk, in the car or in the privacy of your home. Just pop in some ear buds and take a listen.
Here is a list of some of the most recommended podcasts on mental health and wellness in 2018:
Past Chair of The Family Law Section  Jorge Cestero shares what he does to de-stress from lawyer life: 

"I (generally) go to  Orangetheory Fitness twice a week. I also try to do one urban hike of about 4-5 miles each week, rotating the places. My favorites are Delray Beach/downtown Delray, South Palm Beach/downtown Lake Worth and northern  Palm Beach. I also read in the evenings for about 30 minutes on weeknights of about 4-5 miles each week, rotating the places. My favorites are Delray Beach/downtown Delray, South Palm Beach/downtown Lake Worth and northern Palm Beach.  I also read in the evenings for about 30 minutes on weeknights before bed. 70% nonfiction, 30% fiction."
Healthy Selfies

The Family Law Section supports healthy lifestyles! If you're running in a 5K, playing in a golf tournament or even just enjoying a family bike ride, take a selfie and send it to us! We want to spotlight section members and their families, friends and colleagues who are making wellness a priority. Email photos to Section Consultant Lisa Tipton so we can post them on Facebook and Twitter. Ideas for Health & Wellness tips or articles? Please email Laura Davis Smith or John Foster.

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General Magistrate  Maxine Williams
15th Judicial Circuit

Who is someone who inspires you?  My Mother. She did not have a formal education but is always the wisest person in the room.
How do you define success? Using my gifts to improve my little corner of the world and make my parents proud.
Why do you practice family law?  Actually, I am lucky to preside over family law cases rather than practicing. I have the easier job.
What is something few people know about you?  When Judge Kroll called to offer me the Magistrate job in 2006, I accidentally hung up on her.
Favorite quote?  "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter." by MLK, Jr.
Favorite family law case?  I do not have a favorite. I love them all.
Favorite book and why?  God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy. It was a gift from a special friend and reminds me that everyone deserves love.
Favorite TV show and why?  Currently ..."This is Us" because it is about the most interesting family.
Favorite song lyric?  "You gotta know when to hold, know when to fold 'em, know when to walk away, know when to run..."
Favorite superhero?  The Notorious RBG.
Best place to which you have traveled?  Jamaica, to the house where I was born.
Proudest accomplishment within the section?  Making it on to Executive Council.
What benefits do you receive as a result of your section participation? Learning, developing friendships, and making connections with passionate and highly skilled section members.
Something we did not know about you?  I know all the words to The Gambler by Kenny Rogers and I will play Christmas carols year-round.
Coffee or tea?  Coffee
If you were stranded on a desert island, what three items could you not live without?  Indoor plumbing, Amazon Prime Video, my puppy (Bentley).
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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