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

Abigail M. Beebe
This month, I want to address how we, as attorneys, define "success," and how our perceptions affect not only our practices, but our quality of life. However, first and foremost, SUCCESS is simply insufficient to describe the Family Law Section's Marital and Family Law Certification Review Course! It was a completely sold-out STELLAR EVENT, and a record-breaking year for the section, with nearly 1,700 attendees. None of this would have been possible without the exemplary efforts of our outstanding committee chaired by Bonnie Sockel-Stone, working closely with committee members Sarah Kay, Heather Apicella and Michelle Klinger-Smith. You ladies hit this one out of the park and the comments, feedback and overall responses have been ABSOLUTELY AMAZING!!! What a fantastic job you all did; the Family Law Section thanks you, and I thank you, truly.
As marital and family law practitioners, we often feel like no matter the amount of effort, we are in a thankless profession. Such feelings may impact our ability to embrace our success. Specifically, the high level of stress combined with the high level of emotions surrounding our chosen profession, often make us feel that even when we do an A+ job, our clients are never satisfied, happy or grateful. There are many days when I leave the office questioning whether I could have accomplished more or approached things differently. It is the forever "hamster wheel" of this practice. Many days I go home feeling mentally, physically and emotionally drained from the constant demands of this practice, and it feels like a repeat from the preceding day, week or month making it difficult to remember feelings of being "accomplished" or "successful."
How you personally define success directly impacts whether you are successful in your practice and in your life. Ask yourself, what defines success to you? Is it what people say about you, or what you think about yourself--- and what does it look like, feel like, and more importantly, when do we know we have it? Does it look like the ability to accumulate material objects, or does it feel like unabashedly being able to exert power and influence over others and being respected? Which group do you fall into? Often, we define success by our accomplishments, however success is so much, more than that. In order to really understand what success entails, I challenge all of you to slightly modify your perceptions about your place in this world, the life you live and what fulfills you. We are often so busy molding our success through the signature of what others deem it to be that we lose hope, evaluating ourselves through the looking glass of others rather than taking charge and assessing our own lives and our own self-worth.
What is the difference between being ordinary and extraordinary? The answer lies within you and to what extent you allow the outside world to define who and what you are. I'm sure this has happened to you (I know I am plagued with this at every turn). You walk into a courtroom, and before you utter a word or have a seat, the judges, bailiff and other lawyers in the room have already made their mind up about you. So, what do you do? Do you spend the next several minutes or hours claiming your identity, or do you focus on why you are there and let prejudices and preconceived notions be damned? Take a guess at what my answer would be. Truth is my answer likely varies depending on the situation I am facing.
If you listen to your inner core, the trajectory of your life allows you to connect you with what your flair is in life. So, what's your "flair"? Take some time to think it over and answer this with honesty and veracity. If you are able to find the answer, there is your ability to allow your life to be extraordinary because no one can duplicate what you can do and what you've focused on.
The only certainty that there is, is that there is no end to achieving and attaining success. The road is not a finite one, but a yellow brick road of wonders, questions, people, situations, circumstances, choices and everything in between. They all present themselves not on our time, but at the right time for things to happen. How that success materializes in your life happens to be a very personal expression of what you envisioned for yourself, and not through the viewpoint of others.
Life is an incredible journey and every person reading this message has the power within themselves to be successful.
The first step toward success is taken when you refuse to be a captive of the environment in which you first find yourself. - Mark Caine
Abigail M. Beebe, West Palm Beach
2018-2019 Chair, Family Law Section of The Florida Bar
Program Administrator Willie Mae Shepherd
Willie Mae Shepherd is the Family Law Section's new Program Administrator, the section's liaison to The Florida Bar. Willie Mae has worked for the Bar since January of 2000, as a Member Service Supervisor for 13 years and as a Program Administrator for nearly six. She serves as a liaison and administrator for two Florida Bar Sections. She ensures that the sections are abiding by Bar policy and provides administrative support for budgets, website maintenance, quarterly newsletters, membership and special projects of the section chairs. She also assists with development and coordination of CLE seminars and in-state and out-of-state retreats. 

Willie Mae is from Cairo, Ga. She graduated from Florida A&M University with a degree in newspaper journalism. She is married and has one daughter. Contact her at or (850) 561-5624.
Certification Review Course and Section Meetings
2019 Visionary Award
Congratulations to  Melinda Gamot , recipient of the 2019 Family Law Section Visionary Award for "outstanding service and invaluable contributions to the practice of family law throughout the State of Florida."

Family Law Section Chair  Abigail Beebe   presented the award during the annual Marital & Family Law Certification Review Course, a Family Law Section and AAML Florida Chapter annual event, which occurred in Orlando on January 25, 2019.

Melinda is a fellow and past president of the AAML Florida Chapter and is Florida Bar board certified in marital and family law. Abigail Beebe presented this award to Melinda as the "Visionary" for paving the road for all, especially women in the legal field, her devotion to this field, her professionalism and incredible ability to always maintain her work-life balance, while also raising the bar for her peers.

(Photo credits: CATECOMM and AAML)
Certification Review Course Committee
A very sincere and special thank you to this AMAZING group of leaders, who put together the exceptional program for the 2019 Marital & Family Law Certification Review Course. 

Committee Chair  Bonnie Sockel-Stone (center) is pictured here with committee members  Heather ApicellaSarah Kay and  Michelle Klinger Smith and with Susan Duggar Stafford of the AAML Florida Chapter. The amount of effort, work and collaboration that goes into this event is tremendous, yet this committee along with Susan and her team made this event the best yet!!! For your dedication, work and time, coupled with the stellar program that took place deserves so much more than thank you,  however, the Family Law Section of The Florida Bar is thankful and unbelievably grateful.  We are so appreciative of  the committee's dedication and hard work!
Here's a sneak peek at some photos taken during the 2019 Marital and Family Law Certification Review Course and Family Law Section Executive Council and committee meetings in Orlando. More photos will be posted soon on the section's website and Facebook page. Special thank you to the AAML, CATECOMM, Douglas Greenbaum, Heather Apicella, Saray Kay and Eddie Stephens for taking photos during the events.

Upcoming CLE Opportunities
2019 Tax Update
Feb. 21, 2019   Noon - 1 p.m. 
Live Audio Webcast
Sandra L. Perez CPA/ABV/CFF, CFE
Maria Gonzalez, Esq.

Sandra L. Perez , CPA/ABV/CFF, CFE will explain the impact that the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 has on individual and business taxes as they are filed for the current tax season. The explanation will include practice tips and possible pitfalls for family law practitioners. The presentation will offer an in-depth, comprehensive analysis of the tax act's effects and is a logical follow-up CLE for attendees of the 2019 Certification Review Course. Registrants also may participate in an interactive question-and-answer session at the end of the presentation. Moderated by Maria Gonzalez, Esq. 

Approved for 1.0 General CLE; 1.0 Marital & Family Law; 1.0 Tax. Course No. 2961. Family Law and Tax Section members register for only $75. Sponsored by LawPay.
How to Get the Most Out of a Social Investigation/
Parenting Plan Evaluation
March 7, 2019   Noon - 1 p.m.
Live Audio Webcast
Dr. Jennifer L. Mockler
Prese nted by Jennifer L. Mockler, Ph.D., a licensed psychologist with Mockler Psychology, P.A. in Tampa. Moderated by Sarah E. Kay, Esq.

Hear it straight from the source: How do you get the most out of a social investigation or parenting plan evaluation? How do you read one? What questions should you ask of the evaluator? What should your client do or not do during the evaluation? How do you ensure the evaluator is considering all the statutory factors when developing his/her opinions and recommendations?

Approved for 1.0 CLE; 1.0 Marital & Family Law CLE. Course No. 2960. Family Law Section members register for only $75.  Sponsored by LawPay.
In-State Retreat: Register by March 22

Register online now and join your friends and colleagues from the Family Law Section April 11-14 for networking, CLE and fun during the annual in-state retreat and executive council meeting at the beautiful, exclusive  Ocean Reef Club in Key Largo. Retreat chairs Heather Apicella, Trish Armstrong and Michelle Klinger Smith have scheduled a CLE on Imago Therapy, as well as activities such as kayaking through the mangroves, a scavenger hunt on golf carts, and a lobster bake on the beach followed by a beach bonfire. Bring your family and enjoy all that this destination has to offer:  fishing, golf, nature center, fitness center, snorkeling the only living coral reef in America and other activities on the water. We hope to see you in the fabulous Florida Keys! You must make your reservation by March 22. Register, view the schedule and reserve rooms at this linkThis is  the retreat  that you don't want to miss!
2019 Legislative Update
May 9, 2019  Noon - 2 p.m.
Live Audio Webcast
The Family Law Section Legislation Committee co-chairs will discuss the results of the 2019 Florida legislative session, including new laws passed, bills introduced but not passed, practice pointers in light of the results, and more. Hear insights from  Chair  Andrea Reid, Esq. and Co-Chairs  Joseph Hunt, Esq. and  David Hirschberg, Esq. Moderated by  Jennifer Miller-Morse, Esq.
Only 80 spots available. In-person, live event. Scholarship applications due March 15; details below.  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.
Apply by March 15 for Trial Advocacy Workshop Scholarships
The Family Law Section is offering  five need-based scholarships  and  one diversity scholarship  for individuals to attend the section's  Trial Advocacy Workshop  at the Tampa Marriott Waterside Hotel & Marina July 25-28, 2019. The section will waive the workshop registration fee and reimburse each scholarship recipient up to $500 after receipt of proof of payment of travel and hotel expenses. Each recipient must attend all workshop meetings and functions and is responsible for expenses above $500.
Applicants for all scholarships must be members in good standing of The Florida Bar and active members of the Family Law Section of The Florida Bar.
The need-based scholarships  are intended to make the course accessible to family law lawyers whose financial circumstances preclude them from being able to participate.  Applicants for the need-based scholarships must affirm that, without the scholarship, they could not attend the course.
The  diversity scholarship  is intended to increase diversity and inclusion in the Family Law Section of The Florida Bar so that the Bar will reflect the demographics of the state, to develop opportunities for section involvement, and to make leadership roles within the profession and the section accessible to all attorneys, including those who are racially, ethnically and culturally diverse, women, members of the LGBTQ community and persons with disabilities. Applicants for the diversity scholarship must affirm that they meet the purpose of the scholarship as described above.
Please email completed applications to Family Law Section Treasurer Doug Greenbaum at   and Family Law Section Administrator Willie Mae Shepherd at  no later than MARCH 15, 2019.
Stephens' Squibs by Eddie Stephens

Squib of the Month:

Schroll v. Schroll,  43 FL.L.Weekly D2795 (Fla. 1 st  DCA 2018).  Trial Court cannot convert an equitable distribution payment into something enforceable by contempt by characterizing it as an obligation to perform a specific act.
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 wellness tips or articles? Please email Health & Wellness Committee Co-Chairs  Laura Davis Smith or John Foster.

Signature Annual Sponsor

Gold Level

Law Firm Sponsor

LegalFuel's Free Document Library
The Practice Resource Center of The Florida Bar offers an online library of sample documents and forms that are  excellent starting points for you to customize and use in your practice. Choose from more than 100 administrative forms in Microsoft Word format that cover topics like client correspondence, fee agreements, intake, changing firms and more. They  may be used "as is" or modified as needed. 

The Florida Bar and the creators of these forms make no warranties, express or implied, concerning their use, and disclaim any responsibility whatsoever for the information contained in them.
Shannon McLin Carlyle and her dog, Carrabelle

Who is someone who inspires you? My Mom. She's an amazing mix of pure grace, elegance, strength, and conviction. And I've never heard her say a bad thing about anyone.
How do you define success? The absence of wants and needs.
Why do you practice family law? I am an appellate lawyer who focuses on family law appeals. There are two parts of my career that I truly enjoy. First, is being able to help people who are really struggling with a difficult transition in their lives. I receive a lot of satisfaction not only when I provide them with appellate strategy and advice, but also when I am able to counsel them about the benefits of letting go of the animosity, and moving forward in a positive direction. Second, I really love having the unique opportunity to work side-by-side with different family lawyers as their cases work themselves through the appellate process. It's almost like I get to be part of their firm during the representation. We are a team, and enjoy a comradery that is a unique part of owning a boutique appellate firm.
What is something few people know about you? When I was in high school, my Dad was involved in an entertainment coach company that rented out buses to bands when they went on tour. We went out to see one of the buses after it had come off tour and it was in the process of being cleaned. I opened up the bathroom medicine cabinet and there was Ozzy Osbourne's rabies vaccine prescription from when he bit the head off that bat. It was going to be thrown away so I kept it. I held on to it for about 20 years but now I can't find it. I wonder what it would go for on e-Bay.
Favorite quote? I have two. "Never Give Up." - Winston Churchill. And one my Mom has told me throughout my life: "You find what you're looking for."
Favorite family law case? Griswold v. Connecticut (1965); Loving v. Virginia (1967); Phillips v. Martin Marietta Corp. (1971); Roe v. Wade (1973); Lawrence v. Texas (2003); United States v. Windsor (2013); Overgefell v. Hodges, 576 U.S. (2015).
Favorite book and why? Former First District Court of Appeal Judge, Phil Padavano's, book "Florida Appellate Practice." We call it the "Green Bible" (it's green �� ). It is a smorgasbord of appellate rules, practice tips, comments, forms, etc. - an appellate lawyer's best friend.
Favorite TV show and why? Not a show, but I absolutely LOVE March Madness and rooting for the Cinderella teams.
Favorite song lyric?
"You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will be as one"    John Lennon - Imagine
Favorite superhero? Wonder Woman - Founding member of the Justice League.
Best place you have traveled? I'm a travel addict having participated in Semester at Sea in college (where we visited 14 countries) and between college and law school, I was a flight attendant (48 states and counting). But my favorite place is right here in our beautiful state - Dog Island, a barrier island off the coast of Carrabelle, Florida. My family and I have been going to Dog Island since I was three years old and it holds a very special place in my heart.
Proudest accomplishment within the section? Having the opportunity to provide the materials in the "Red Books" on "Appeals and Extraordinary Writs" for the 2019 Marital and Family Law Review Course.
What benefits do you receive as a result of your section participation? The greatest benefit is having the opportunity to develop friendships throughout the state with people who are not only incredibly smart, fun, witty, and successful, but who are just all around good people who care about helping those who are going through difficult times.
Something we did not know about you? When I was 21 and a flight attendant, I travelled to Tanzania by myself and climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro. It was there - on that mountain - where I decided to go to law school.  
Coffee or tea? Coffee, lots and lots of very strong coffee.
If you were stranded on a desert island, what three items could you not live without? A high SPF sunscreen, water, and . . . . an Internet connection - the best part about being an appellate lawyer, you can work from anywhere!
Anything else.... I just became an empty nester and my house is way too quiet. So, I recently rescued a Goldendoodle who I named, "Carrabelle" aka Cujodoodle. 
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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