The Florida Bar Family Law Section Monthly Newsletter
Editor: Ron Kauffman

Abigail M. Beebe
Well, happy new "Bar Year" from Palm Beach, Florida! As Chair of the Family Law Section of The Florida Bar for 2018-2019, I am very excited to kick off this New Bar Year by letting you know what has been happening, and what's in store for the Section this year!
First, we had a productive and exciting year under Nicole Goetz's noteworthy leadership. At our Annual Luncheon held during The Florida Bar Annual Convention, Nicole recognized those individuals who really helped make her year great. Just to hit a few of the highlights: 
Nicole honored the following members for their "Above and Beyond Service," for exceeding all expectations with their tireless dedication and hard work to benefit the Section in 2017-18: Aimee Gross, Diane M. Kirigin, Carin Porras and Bonnie Sockel-Stone.
In each year, the Chair acknowledges a few "Rising Stars" for recognition of their enthusiasm, initiative and outstanding service to the Family Law Section and its goals. This year, Nicole selected  Trish Armstrong, Stephanie Matalon, Ryan Tarnow and Anya Citron-Stern.
The following members and officers of the Section were also awarded for their invaluable contributions and time spent protecting Florida's Families during the 2018 Legislative Session: John Foster, Aimee Gross, Amy Hickman, Kristen Kirkner, Kristi Beth Luna, Bonnie Sockel-Stone, David Manz, Shannon Novey, Michelle Klinger-Smith and Phil Warternberg.
Our Section was lucky enough to have the support of Senator Kathleen Passidomo and Representative Daniel Perez to ensure that the Section's Equitable Distribution bill successfully became law in 2018.
Also, the Underage Marriage bill was fully backed and supported by Representatives Jeanette Nunez and Frank White along with Senator Lizbeth Benacquisto. Thank you all for your unwavering support of the Family Law Section's mission and goal in ensuring the laws of our state and Florida's families are best served and legally protected. Thank you to our wonderful team at Southern Strategies --- Nelson Diaz, Edgar Castro and Kevin Cabrera --- for your hard work, dedication and assistance in this legislative session.
The Chair's Award of Extraordinary Service was given to the Section's very own, well-deserving member Sarah E. Kay. The Chair's Award of Special Merit was given to Sheena Benjamin-Wise, Ronald Bornstein, Belinda Lazzara, Matthew Lundy, Michelle Klinger-Smith, Phil Wartenberg and C. Deb Welch.
Nicole recognized Sarah R. Sullivan with The Alberto Romero "Making a Difference" Award at the annual luncheon for her tireless efforts for the benefit of the Section and The Florida Bar.
The Honorable Raymond T. McNeal Professionalism Award was given to Past Section Chair Maria C. Gonzalez for her never-ending, forever and absolute professionalism in all walks of her life, including personally and professionally.
Spotlight Awards were given to the following Section members for their positive impact and outstanding service to the Section: Heather Apicella, John Foster, Tenesia Hall, David Hirschberg, Ronald Kauffman, Chris Rumbold, Robin Scher and Eddie Stephens, III.
Nicole recognized Lisa Tipton, our Communications Consultant, and Gabrielle Tollok, our Section Administrator, for their tireless support and continued efforts to assist our Section in accomplishing all of our goals.
Under Nicole's lead, our very own "Bounds of Advocacy" were re-written to bring them more current with our ever-changing world. Championing this effort, our Section was lucky to have Co-chairs Richard West, Past Chair, and Melinda Gamot; along with their Ad Hoc Committee including: the Honorable Scott Bernstein; Dr. Deborah Day; Maria C. Gonzalez; Ky Koch, Past Chair; David Manz, Past Chair; the Honorable Raymond McNeal; and Ashley Myers. The committee was tasked with and accomplished this goal seamlessly. The actual print version was mailed to all members just after the convention, and should have been received as of the writing of this message.  
We also elected and welcomed our new Executive Committee members, Chair Abigail Beebe, Chair-Elect Amy Hamlin, Treasurer Douglas Greenbaum, Secretary Heather Apicella, and of course, Immediate Past Chair Nicole Goetz.   

During the luncheon, Lawrence Datz recognized those attorneys who have become newly board certified by The Florida Bar in the area of Marital & Family Law: Jordan Abramowitz, Christopher Russell Bruce, Matthew Paul Irwin, Catherine Magdalena Rodriguez, Katherine Cooper Scott, Michelle Klinger Smith and John Stephen Thacker. Congratulations! Former Section Chairs Thomas Sasser and Jorge Cestero administered the oath as we swore in our newest Executive Council members: Lauren Alperstein, Shannon McLin CarlyleReuben DoupĂ©Anastasia GarciaAndrea ReidKimberly Rommel-EnrightRobin ScherC. Debra Welch and  Maxine Williams .

I want to welcome each and every one of you to a new Bar Year. This year, we have some incredible things planned. First, our bi-annual leadership retreat will be at the Colony Hotel in Palm Beach, which will be in conjunction with the Section's Fall Meetings. In October, Section members will put on their cowboy boots, cowboy hats and head to Nashville, Tennessee, for our Out-of-State Retreat. In Nashville, we will stay at the Thompson Hotel, and the renowned Chris Mercer of Mercer Capital will bring us up to speed on the leading issues in the world of Business Valuations.
In January, partnering with the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, Florida Chapter, our Annual Certification & Review Course will take place at the Gaylord Palms in Orlando, Florida. This year the speakers are stellar, and this lineup is not to be missed. As in years past, our Section's Mid-Year Meetings will occur after the seminar.
In April, our Section is lucky enough to host our In-State Retreat at the private, exclusive and absolutely beautiful Ocean Reef Club in Key Largo. This is sure to be one amazing experience for all.
Our Legislation Committee, along with the Executive Council and the entire section, are gearing up for what seems to be a busy legislative session ahead. We are teeing up to persevere through a busy legislative agenda. 2018 is also a Constitutional Revision year, which occurs only every twenty (20) years; the last one in 1998. We want to educate our members, and the citizens of Florida, to vote with as much knowledge and information as we can possibly provide.

It is a privilege and honor to be named Chair of this Section. At the Section's Awards & Installation Luncheon held on June 13, 2018, I spoke about my goals, "my theme," and gave some of my thoughts about leadership within the Family Law Section.

For me, what this organization and volunteer work is all about, as well as my goal since I began this journey, was to try and help those involved, recall why they became involved.  It is our hard work and tireless efforts to ensure the families in this state are best served in every way.
So here's to a great year --- 2018-19. Let this year be the year where we all make our mark, have an impact.
Your Chair,
Abigail M. Beebe, West Palm Beach
2018-2019 Chair, Family Law Section of The Florida Bar
Simmonds v. Perkins
Read the full opinion at this link.
The Florida Supreme Court entered a groundbreaking opinion on June 28, 2018, in the matter of Simmonds v. Perkins, 43 Fla. L. Weekly S273a, rejecting the idea that the common law presumption of legitimacy creates an absolute bar to a biological father's ability to establish parental rights of a child born to a married woman. 

Treneka Simmonds ("Simmonds") sought review of the Fourth District Court of Appeal decision in Perkins v. Simmonds, 227 So.3d 646 (Fla. 4th DCA), asserting conflict with Slowinski v. Sweeney, 64 So.3d 128 (Fla. 1st DCA 2011) and Tijerno v. Estrella, 843 So.2d 984 (Fla. 3d DCA 2003). The Supreme Court granted review. 

Perkins filed a petition to establish paternity in the circuit court, and Simmonds moved to dismiss the action, alleging a bar to the relief Perkins was seeking because of the common law presumption of legitimacy. Perkins amended his petition to name Mr. Ferguson as a party and sought to disestablish Mr. Ferguson's paternity. In return, Mr. Ferguson also sought the dismissal of Perkins' petition.

After an evidentiary hearing, the circuit court ruled that it was bound by precedent to dismiss Perkins' petition, citing  Johnson v. Ruby , 771 So.2d 1275,1276-76 (Fla. 4th DCA 2000) which held that "[a] putative father has no right to [seek to] establish paternity of a child who was born into an intact marriage, when the married woman and her husband object." Perkins appealed that ruling to the Fourth District Court of Appeal, which reversed and remanded the matter back to the trial court for further proceedings, relying on  Department of Health & Rehabilitative Services v. Privette, 617 So.2d at 309, (" Privette "): "[a] biological father may seek to establish his paternity, even when both the mother and husband object, if 'common sense and reason are outraged' by applying the marital presumption to bar such an action...."

The Supreme Court has resolved the conflict on this issue between the circuit courts, having determined that the presumption of legitimacy must not create an absolute bar to a biological father's right to seek to establish his paternity when the biological father has "manifested a substantial and continuing concern" for the welfare of the child. See, Privette. That presumption of legitimacy is overcome when there is a "clear and compelling reason based primarily on the child's best interests." See, Kendrick v. Everheart, 390 So.2d 53 (Fla. 1980).
Save the Dates! Upcoming CLE Opportunities
  • Aug. 16. New Deployed Parent Custody and Visitation Act Explained* audio webcast by Kristin Kirkner (noon - 1 p.m.)
  • Aug. 30. Preserving Privilege where Privilege is Due in Psychological Evaluations and Social Investigations* audio webcast by Colleen Norman and Dr. Deborah Day (noon - 2 p.m.)
  • Sept. 20 (tentative). 9th Annual Case Law Update* audio webcast (noon - 2 p.m.)
  • Oct. 26. KAAA Fix Bill Explained* audio webcast by Bonnie Sockel-Stone (noon - 1 p.m.)
  • Nov. 15. Best Practices for Use of Guardian ad Litems and Attorney ad Litems* audio webcast by C. Debra Welch and Kim Nutter (noon -1:30 p.m.)
  • Nov. 29. Mechanics of Board Certification (audio webcast, no CLE credit awarded) by David Hirschberg and additional panelists (noon - 2 p.m.)
  • Jan. 21, 2019. Tax Update* audio webcast by CPA Sandra Perez with moderator Maria Gonzalez (noon- 1 p.m.)
* Pending Florida Bar CLE credit approval.
Annual Awards & Installation Luncheon
The Family Law Section held its Annual Awards & Installation Luncheon on June 13 during The Florida Bar Annual Convention. Congratulations to the section officers, Executive Council and all of the award recipients, and thank you to The Florida Bar leaders who joined us during the event. View photos from the luncheon in the section's website photo gallery, read more details on our Facebook page, and stay tuned for updates (coming soon) to the awards pages on the section website. Photos by CATECOMM.

2017-2018 Section Chair Nicole L. Goetz presented her chair's $5,000 honorarium to Lee Health Foundation to benefit Golisano Children's Hospital. The Singleton family has had an extremely positive experience with Golisano and joined Nicole during the luncheon to accept the check.
Leadership Retreat & Fall Meeting
August 1 is the reservation cut-off date for the August 22-25 Family Law Section Leadership Retreat and Fall Meeting at The Colony Hotel in Palm Beach. 

The section offers five, $500 scholarships for individuals to attend the retreat. The section will waive the retreat registration fee and reimburse each scholarship recipient up to $500 after receipt of proof of payment for travel and hotel expenses. Other expenses over and above $500 are the participant's responsibility, and each participant must attend all retreat meetings and functions.  To apply, you must:
     a] be a member in good standing of The Florida Bar.
     b] be an active member of the Family Law Section of The Florida Bar.
     c] affirm under oath that without the scholarship, you cannot attend the course.
Please email your completed application to Family Law Section Treasurer Amy Hamlin at no later than July 15, 2018.

Section Chair Abigail Beebe and Program Chairs Andrea Reid and Trisha Armstrong have put together an exceptionally dynamic and fun agenda.  Check out all of the details in the event  brochure

We hope to see you there!
Committee Reports
Family Law Section Technology Committee

It is often said that the best things come in small packages. That saying rings true for the Family Law Section Technology Committee. Despite its small size, the Technology Committee works hard, often behind the scenes, to help the section achieve its mission of promoting the highest standards of professionalism and legal advocacy. The Technology Committee completes projects as requested by section leadership, provides technology-related content for the section's publications, and maintains the section's website current in both content and features.

During the 2017-2018 bar cycle, the Technology Committee updated not only content for the section's website, but also ensured its search engine optimization and enhanced the events page to include a calendar and increased searchability. We also began exploring the possibility of establishing static email addresses for each section committee so the contact information for each committee's leadership does not change even though the committee chairs may change. Similarly, we have been exploring cloud storage options for committee documents including agendas, minutes, and work product, to augment collaboration among the section committees and leadership.

The 2018-2019 bar cycle has begun and the Technology Committee is already at work! While we continue last year's projects, our focus in 2018-2019 is on regularly providing relevant technology-related content for the section's publications and CLEs.

While our membership numbers may not be big, they are strong. There is ample opportunity for new members to get involved. If you are passionate about technology, have a technology "tip" to share, have ideas on technology-related topics for publications or CLEs, or have feedback on the section's website, the Technology Committee is for you! Email the Technology Committee Co-chairs Ron Kauffman or  Lori Weems EversWe look forward to hearing from you!

Continuing Legal Education Committee

In the words of Albert Einstein, "Intellectual growth should commence at birth and cease only at death." To aid in the continued intellectual growth of section membership as well as Florida family law practitioners and support staff at large, the Family law Section Continuing Legal Education Committee plans and produces live and web-based seminars on relevant family law issues throughout the year.

During the 2017-2018 bar cycle, the CLE committee offered one live day-long domestic violence CLE in November and seven webinars. In addition to the section's three annual events --- the 8th Annual Case Law Update by Eddie Stephens & RT White, the Mechanics of Board Certification, and the Legislative Update by the section's Legislation Committee Co-Chairs --- the webinars delivered timely content on parenting plan tips, enforcement of equitable distribution, the new Title IV parenting plans, and an explanation of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.

The 2018-2019 bar cycle is off to an lively start! We already have five CLEs scheduled and more in the works. Pay close attention to the "Save the Date" section of this FAMSEG for more information on upcoming CLEs.

The CLE Committee invites you to join them if you have the gift of teaching, an idea for a family law CLE, or you simply like to stay abreast of the latest topics and events in family law. There are plenty of opportunities to participate in our committee including, but certainly not limited to, speaking at CLEs, assisting with CLE materials preparation, coordinating speakers and topics for upcoming events, emceeing seminars, and more. Contact CLE Committee Co-Chair Sarah E. Kay at (813) 251-9200 or if you would like more information on how to get involved.
Family Law Section Annual and Semi-Annual Sponsors  

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Executive Council  Member Profile: Sonja Jean
Davis Smith & Jean, LLC, Coral Gables
Sonja Jean and her children.
Who is someone who inspires you? I have always been and continue to be inspired by my late father. He accomplished so much having come from so little and always taught me to do better than my best so that I would surprise myself.

How do you define success? Success is being at peace with yourself such that you do not feel the need to remind others of how successful you are.
Why do you practice family law? I practice family law because I genuinely believe that I can help families heal even during the most difficult of times. 
What is something few people know about you? I love with my whole heart and I wear it on my sleeve.
Favorite quote?  "You can't try to do anything.  You can either do it or you can't." Yergen Pulliam (my late uncle).

Favorite family law case?  Hooker v. Hooker. Hands down. Favorite case of all time.

Favorite book and why?  The Two Mrs. Grenvilles. It's really not that great of a novel, and the writing is actually horrible, but I still love it.
Favorite TV show and why? Power. The writing is so incredible that I cannot separate the actors from their "characters." I find myself yelling at the TV, throwing things and sobbing. Great show! Can't wait until July 1st when the next season comes out.
Favorite song lyric?  "Love is the connection that joins two people together. What a sweet connection; when it's right it will last forever. But if you give it a try, and you can't feel the vibes, take my advice:  If your heart's not in it let it go. Stop wasting time, don't fool yourself, it won't grow."  Beres Hammond.
Favorite superhero?  Black Sonja The Superhero. That's how I introduced myself to Laura Davis Smith's children when I first met them. It was only after a couple of years that her oldest son Connor realized that I really couldn't fly. Or so he thought anyway ... 
Best place you have traveled?  Ireland. Definitely Ireland.

Proudest accomplishment within the section?  Honestly, my favorite (and proudest) accomplishment was the work I did for Trial Ad during Elisha's year as Chair.

What benefits do you receive as a result of your section participation? The greatest benefit  I have received as a result of my participation in the Section is learning to understand and accept that people have very different ideas about what is right for Florida families, and that is okay.  

Something we did not know about you?  I have a hard time forgiving people who I feel have wronged me.  I'm working on this.

Coffee or tea? Definitely coffee. Tea makes me go to sleep.

If you were stranded on a desert island, what three items could you not live without? My husband, my children, and wifi. Wifi is a must.
Call for Articles
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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