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

Abigail M. Beebe
Happy New Year and welcome to 2019! It seems so crazy that we are already in January, but here we are!

With a New Year, comes some sort of a  re-set  for all of us. Maybe instead of resolving to do things new or differently or to stop something that you previously did, we should  reflect and review  on the year that is ending and all of the accomplishments that came with it. This year, I decided to try just that, something different. Let's see how it goes...

Wouldn't you agree that the psychology behind New Year's resolutions is sort of faulty? We're all bound to  fail  to lose that weight, get to zero e-mails each day in our inbox, exercise more, stop doing something, start doing something...  Whatever it is, it seems like this HUGE feat to select some "resolution," start that thing, stop that other thing, but does that EVER really work-out? (no  pun  intended).

If asked,  I can and would say, NO! Then to top it all off, because resolutions don't really work, they become, inherently, depressing. I would " resolve " to stop betting, but because we are trying something different this year, I will put money on the fact that more than 80% of  resolutions  are abandoned by February. Would you agree? If not, you are definitely in the 20%, if I were to win this bet, of course! These "resolutions" always seem so vague or overbroad (hmmmm...sound familiar?). They are too unrealistic, to really stick or to actually work.

Trying to essentially change the very things I have managed to DO, good or bad, healthy or unhealthy, productive or unproductive, for the entire year passing, likely several years, is simply too much, too difficult or to unnatural to "try" and change. So, it was somewhat of an " AHA " moment when I realized:  New Year's resolutions usually fail because these regular, repetitive or recurring behaviors are not just habits. They have deep-rooted themselves into who I am and are embedded in my psychological, social and emotional being . It's this, my being, who I am, which is the product of my own personality and temperament, my emotional and physical needs, my learned experiences and a combination of environment along with genetics, my hereditary make up and my past. Trying to achieve these "resolutions" is just taking on new things that don't actually come naturally.  Basically, it's a long, hard swim, upstream, against all of those personalities, temperaments, emotional and physical needs, along with our respective environments and past experiences, coupled with our genetics! Sound like fun to you? Yea, ME either!

Have you ever reviewed and written down the past year's accomplishments? Instead of resolving to "hit some jackpot" --- set an achievable goal and then break down the tasks needed to get there, into baby steps, that you can actually complete, in a certain amount of time. Even just formulating those tasks, makes it difficult to fail. This is the key to achieving those "goals." Start with a goal of not failing, repeatedly! Maybe then we can "avoid" the feeling of failure of another "resolution" abandoned, and start setting attainable and feasible goals, in line with previous successes. You never know, you may actually start off this year, with a new found appreciation for your hard work of last year, instead of dreading the New Year, as some unrealistic date to "start," "stop" or "change" something you are already wired to do, in the same way you have always done it. Maybe you would surprise yourself at how much you actually already accomplished!

Coming to grips, that we cannot "undo" our pasts or turn back time, is not so easy, but before you make that New Year's " resolution " or wish, stop and consider this: Turning back time, at least as of January 1, 2019, is still impossible! In fact, even the idea of it is holding many back or "in limbo." Life won't always be "easy" or like the "good old days" --- whatever those are to you. Life won't always be "fair." We  all  fall. But we also  all  get up! Ups and downs in life are what makes us, us! Turning back the clock wouldn't solve anything. So maybe this New Year, try it, review the past year, learn from it and move  forward , without wanting to go  back .

Each of us has regrets, it's OK, but you will never be able to turn back time. Look at it this way, we need those "mistakes" to keep growing! We are  all  human and we  all  make mistakes. Undoing one, won't prevent another one, and would you really want to "undo" all of those slips, trips and falls? It's making those slips and trips, that allows for our own, individual growth and personal and professional development. Sometimes, the  best  lessons come from the  worst  mistakes.

If you really think this through, turning back time, would change  the   entire  future. We are who we are, because of where we have been. Every choice, every mistake, every person we have met, every problem encountered, has taught us something.  Look at everything in life, as a lesson, even if it's in disguise! 

It may seem hard, at times, especially in the New Year, to see it, but there is a reason and a plan. Even when it seems implausible that this was  THE  plan, we really are where we are supposed to be! So stop " resolving " to change it, stop fighting it! Look back, at the past and keep growing from it. Don't wish it away or " resolve " to make these big, overreaching, unattainable changes to it. Try to live in the present, without regret. Appreciate the successes of the past year, while enjoying the moments in the year ahead. Appreciate what you have,  now . It's those things that make a real difference!!  Well, I welcome you to a NEW YEAR, 2019!!!
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.
Apply by January 21 for Family Law Section Executive Council Seat
The Family Law Section Executive Council is accepting applications to fill one (1) vacant seat on the Council for a term that ends in June 2022. 
If you are interested in applying for the open vacancy please download the application , and email it with a photo of yourself to Section Chair Abigail Beebe at  and Section Administrator Willie Mae Shepherd at by 5:00 p.m. on January 21, 2019.
January 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
Twelve Tips for a Healthy Practice
January 10, Noon - 1 p.m. Live Audio Webcast.  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, chair of The Florida Bar Mental Health & Wellness of Florida Lawyers Committee. Presenters include  Dr. Deborah Day Dr. Jennifer Mockler and  Glenn Greer of RZone Fitness. 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:  

In Re: The Name Change of Ronald Russell Johnson,  43 Fla.L.Weekly D2600 (Fla.4 th  DCA 2018). Trial Court erred denying facially sufficient petition for name change without providing any explanation for denial.  Court also erred denying party right to have Court reporter transcribe proceedings. Fla.R.Jud.Admin Rule 2.535(b) provides any proceeding may be recorded upon request of party.
Amendments to Florida Family Law Rule of Procedure 12.407
For background, read the July 15, 2018, Florida Bar News articleThe Florida Supreme Court has approved  amendments to Rule 12.407 as follows:
(a) Prohibition. Unless otherwise provided by law or another rule of procedure, children who are witnesses, potential witnesses, or related to a family law case, are prohibited from being No minor child shall be deposed or brought to a deposition, brought to court to appear as a witness or to attend a hearing, or from being subpoenaed to appear at any hearing family law proceeding, or from attending any family law proceedings without prior order of the court based on good cause shown unless in an emergency situation.
(b) Related Proceedings. In a family law proceeding held concurrently with a proceeding governed by the Florida Rules of Juvenile Procedure, the Florida Rules of Juvenile Procedure govern as to the child's appearance in court.
(c) Uncontested Adoption. This provision rule shall does not apply to uncontested adoption proceedings.
Court Commentary
1995 Adoption. This rule is intended to afford additional protection to minor children by avoiding any unnecessary involvement of children in family law litigation. While due process considerations prohibit an absolute ban on child testimony, this rule requires that a judge determine whether a child's testimony is necessary and relevant to issues before the court prior to a child being required to testify.
Committee Notes
2018 Amendment. This rule is not intended to prohibit children who are unrelated to the litigation from attending court or depositions in family law cases for educational purposes and other reasons. This rule is intended to protect children who may be harmed by unnecessary involvement in family law proceedings. Children who may be harmed by unnecessary involvement include children who may be the subject of the family law case and children who are witnesses, are potential witnesses, or have extensive involvement with the family that is the subject of a current family law case.
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.

Signature Annual Sponsor

Gold Level

Law Firm Sponsor

Laura Davis Smith, 2016-2017 Family Law Section Chair
Laura Davis Smith
Davis Smith & Jean, Coral Gables

Who is someone who inspires you? James Earl Carter, Jr. our 39th President. His great acts of charity and love, and all around humanitarian goodness, inspire me. I have been blessed to hear him teach Sunday School in Plains, Georgia on several occasions (thank you, Thomas Duggar, who introduced me to the possibility! and to Luis Insignares for accompanying me on one of the trips!)
How do you define success? By being able to determine what really matters in life to you individually, and making it happen.
Why do you practice family law? Family lawyers help people in their darkest times, and help guide them to the light of a new life. Cheesy sentiment, perhaps, but true. There is no greater feeling than seeing a client  several months after their case concludes and have them say how great life is now and to thank you for the peace you helped them to achieve.
What is something few people know about you? I am the eighth of eleven children, and the only one to graduate from high school.
Favorite quote? "When someone shows you who they are, believe them."  Maya Angelou.
Favorite family law case? In re: Gill, which nullified the ban on gay adoption in Florida. Love is love is love!
Favorite book and why? My Antonia by Willa Cather.  The story, the writing, the message - read it, and you will understand!  Then, we can talk about the pumpkins in the field.
Favorite TV show and why? Law and Order, any version. It's always there for me!
Favorite song lyric? Every line on your face tells a story somebody knows. From People Get Old, by Lori McKenna. (Thank you, Joe Hunt)
Favorite superhero? Wonder Woman, of course.  Michelle Obama, in second place (only because she doesn't have an invisible plane.)
Best place to which you have traveled? Iceland, hands down. Incredible beauty, unique terrain.
Proudest accomplishment within the section? Serving as Chair, and seeing the underage marriage ban legislation become a reality, thanks to the hard work of our Legislation Committee, and Jorge Cestero's and Bonnie Sockel-Stone's determination.
What benefits do you receive as a result of your section participation? I have met so many wonderful people across the state, and developed true and lasting friendships. I have also become wiser, as a result!  See my favorite quote, above.
Something we did not know about you? I absolutely love the Rock 'n' Rollercoaster Starring Aerosmith at Disney's Hollywood Studios, and I once snuck over there on a break from the January meetings to ride it a few times!
Coffee or tea? Tea - anything from David's Tea, preferably fruity, without caffeine.
If you were stranded on a desert island, what three items could you not live without? My family (including my dog(s)), music, and sunscreen.  (See how I got the whole family in, complete with dogs, as one item?)
Anything else.... Prayer works, if only to calm our own hearts and minds. The Red Sox are Number 1!!!!!
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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