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

Abigail M. Beebe
The Florida Bar has launched its own health and wellness awareness initiative and it has resulted in a lot of thought about our profession, peers, clients and overall how we can make the practice of law in the State of Florida better for practitioners, while maintaining the commitment to the citizens of Florida. We, the Family Law Section, have also created an ad hoc Health and Wellness Committee, to specifically address our own members' health and wellness. 
Yet, so much of these efforts focus on health, wellness, mental health and substance-related issues. While, what is also being discussed, albeit in a different way, is that female lawyers, professionals, are populating the bar leadership roles, as section chairs, as board certified lawyers, as judges and even legislators. These numbers have sky rocketed. But can woman sustain this trend of maintaining true gender equality?

To all the ladies, like Beyoncé's song--- put your hands up ... now sorry, there is no ring on it or for you, at least not from me--- but this whole ever-changing world still begs the question of why do we have to be so catty!!!?? The truth, the cattiness of these "mean girls" of all ages has pushed me, right to my Tipping Point! I don't mean my mental health or well-being is not OK, although I am confident that at times my stress level, anxiety, late nights, missing lunch and or dinner or my freak outs at the office are certainly, at times, A LOT!!!

Now for those men reading this, I am not in any way ignoring the things you deal with daily at work, at home or otherwise. I am not naïve and think that men do not struggle with the nonsense at times of jealously, envy, sabotage or lack of support from others. I am not an overly "female power" type and I absolutely do not believe that any sex, gender, age, ethnicity, background, religion or race should push any class of persons farther, solely because of any of those things. Rather, I believe qualifications, hard work, dedication and effort should be the gauge. But, unfortunately, in a world where woman are finally being treated more and more equal to men in so many arenas, some woman are also still acting like mean-girl, middle-schoolers.
Listen here--- this is our time. As a group, woman collectively rock the legal profession, The Florida Bar, politics, medicine, education, the arts and business. Now, I am far from a feminist, but I do know that the one thing that will prevent us, our entire gender, from maintaining this and sustaining these standings is our attitude.

Women can't become a truly unstoppable force for good unless we shake off an old shadow that holds us back: "how harsh we can be to one another." I call those who put others down, sabotage them, talk about them behind their backs and do not support one another--- "haters."
Think about it, who hasn't suffered the sting of a woman's snarky comment or sabotage? Or experienced the ickiness of mean-girl shunning or lie-spreading? Women heap an avalanche of abuse, discrimination and incivility on one another, from the courtroom to the PTA. Come on! We deserve better than this. We are better than this.
There's too much progress to be gained right now for women to regress into mean, middle-school girls--- especially as the girls in our lives watch and model our every move.

"There's a Wonder Woman inside every one of us," as Diane Von Furstenberg has said. Let's unleash her--- to better support one another. Let's put our hand out, leave our shoulder open for a friend in need, let's help each other, all of us--- from the northern tip of our state to the southern-most point. Jump in, lean into those tough conflicts, and stop turning against and fighting with each other.

After all the effort that went into creating this level of equality, we can't afford to fall back into outdated, destructive ways: When we hold one woman back, we hold all women back. And when we empower and support each other, we all go big. It is OUR time, to go big or go home!

Unleash the inner Wonder Woman. Express your own greatness--- don't block someone else's. Be an amazing woman. Unleash her. To do good. To give back. To teach a lesson. To be kind. To change the world. Be a superstar yourself, and you won't feel the need to tarnish others.
Behind every successful woman, there is a tribe of other successful woman who have her back.  
Be that woman that empowers other women. "The strongest woman is one who builds another up, rather than tear her down!"

Look, of course, we don't have to like, agree with or be best friends with every woman. But, certainly, we can stop trash talking about other women's appearances, their parenting or even their successes. Gossiping and snarky talk can be addictive. But also destructive. Find a legit, feel-good fix. Maybe you'll need to find new friends, but first, find your own integrity.
Let's stop feeding those that glorify women being mean to other women. So many television shows, movies or talk shows air dirty laundry, hype up the sensation of women fighting, gossiping, rumor spreading, trash talking and even black-balling, sabotaging or otherwise pushing others down. Why? And at what cost?
Don't be afraid of others. Some of us fear other women, so they're scared to share their successes with them to avoid the negativity, hater mentality or competition. That's insane. Don't hold another's successes against her. When someone you know soars, it doesn't mean your wings are clipped, or that there's limited air space. We all came here to fly.
These work harder/faster times can shred us, making it all too easy to turn on one another. Slow down, breathe, and take care of yourself, even if only for a few minutes. It's soul-crushingly tough enough to get through some days. Do we really have to make it harder by crushing each other's dreams and dignity?
"Wonder Woman" is the symbol of the extraordinary possibilities that inhabit us, even if they are hidden!
Think about this: Are you done with trying to figure out who is FOR you, who is AGAINST you or who is playing the middle because they don't have the heart or strength to pick a side? Aren't you tired of it? Don't you want peace? Others' opinions are nuisances and validation is for parking! Loyalty is NOT a word, it is a lifestyle. Life is too short to leave the key to your happiness or success to someone else to protect.
Celebrate another's success, and when you do, don't question your own! Be that person that has a tribe behind you and also be a member of other's tribes!

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.
Family Law Section Members Earn Board Certification

Congratulations to these section members, who recently earned Florida Bar board certification in Marital & Family Law:  Jordan B. Abramowitz of Coral Gables, Christopher R. Bruce of West Palm Beach, Matthew P. Irwin of Cape Coral, Michelle Klinger Smith of Marathon, Catherine M. Rodriguez of Miami Beach, Katherine C. Scott of Tampa, and John S. Thacker of Clearwater.

Board  certification recognizes attorneys'  special knowledge, skills and proficiency  in various areas of law and  professionalism and ethics  in practice. Certification is The Florida Bar's highest level of evaluation of the competency and experience of attorneys in the areas of law approved for certification by the Supreme Court of Florida.
Upcoming CLE Opportunities
Out-of-State Retreat - Oct. 18-21
Nashville, TN

Join the  Family Law Section for  its annual out-of-state retreat in Music City. Guests will experience Ryman Auditorium, Puckett's Grocery, Lower Broadway, Kayne Prime and much more. There will be a special CLE presentation on Business Valuations by Z. Chris Mercer, FASA, CFA, ABAR, founder and CEO of Mercer Capital. Register online and view more details in the event brochure. Special thanks to event sponsor Foster-Morales Sockel-Stone. We hope to see you there!
KAAA Fix Bill Explained - Oct. 26
Live Audio Webcast (Noon - 1 p.m.)

Florida Bar board certified Marital & Family Law specialist and 2017-18 Legislation Committee Co-chair  Bonnie Sockel-Stone, Esq. will explain the ins and outs of the new KAAA Fix Bill, which was effective as of July 1, 2018. Learn how the bill differs from previously existing laws, its possible impact on prior and existing family law cases and potential pitfalls to avoid. Section members $75; non-section-members $130.  Course #3036. CLE Credits: 1.0 General; 1.0 Marital & Family Law.  REGISTER
Save the Date
Mechanics of Board Certification - Nov. 29
Live Audio Webcast (Noon - 2 p.m.)

Gain insights into why you should become board certified. Learn about the application process, exam format and administration, grading, studying and exam-taking tips.  This seminar is intended to assist both those who have applied to take the certification exam and those who are thinking about taking the exam in the future.

Panelists include  Reuben A. Doupé David L. Hirschberg Michelle Klinger SmithBelinda B. Lazzara and Elisha D. Roy
Registration details coming soon.
Gifting in Family Law Cases Unwrapped
Dec. 6  Live Audio Webcast (Noon - 1 p.m.)

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. paragraphs. Section members $95; non-section members $150. Course #2964. CLE credits: 1.5 General, 1.5 Juvenile Law, 1.5 Marital & Family Law. REGISTER
by Eddie Stephens/Stephens' Squibs

Cooley v. Cooley, 43 Fla.L.Weekly D1965 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2018). The fact one party was primary source of income during marriage is insufficient to support unequal distribution.

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Bounds of Advocacy: Goals for Family Lawyers in Florida

Earlier this year, the Family Law Section published the newly revised " Bounds of Advocacy," which leads Florida lawyers through the quagmire of professional and ethical dilemmas that are unique to the practice of family law, and is an update from the original 2004 Florida publication. Family Law Section Ad Hoc Bounds of Advocacy Committee Co-chairs Melinda Gamot and Richard West worked with some of Florida's most experienced family lawyers and professionals to update the guide. Read more in The Florida Bar News.
Sasser, Cestero & Sasser, P.A.
Trisha Armstrong and her husband, Kevin.
Who is someone who inspires you? My Mother for two reasons.  First, she showed me that it is okay to love your family and your career. And second, every challenge she faces she meets with grit and grace. 
How do you define success?  Achieving the goals I set for myself while being able to look in the mirror and like what I see.
Why do you practice family law? This area of the law is incredibly personal and involves the most intimate parts of an individual's life. I practice in this space because the cases I cover have impact and weight. Any positive impact I can make means something to the individual and to me.
What is something few people know about you? 
I'm quite handy and I appreciate a good power tool.

Favorite quote?  "We cannot change the direction of the wind, but we can adjust our sails." 
Favorite family law case? It's a tie between Goodridge v. Department of Public Health and Loving v. Virginia.
Favorite book and why? "Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead" by Sheryl Sandberg. I respect her willingness to foster open and sometimes hard conversations about the challenges that not only women but families face in today's society.  
Favorite TV show and why?  A longtime favorite is Curb Your Enthusiasm.  Who doesn't enjoy Larry David?
Favorite song lyric? It's not a lyric, but the drum solo in "In the Air Tonight" by Phil Collins has always spoken to me. 
Favorite superhero? Batman. "Batdad" is a close second. For fun, see his videos.
Best place to which you have traveled? Growing up, I have fond memories of Paris. Some of which are the baked goods...
Proudest accomplishment within the section? Being sworn into Executive Council. 
What benefits do you receive as a result of your section participation?  One of the most enjoyable aspects of the section participation is the opportunity to meet new people with a wide range of backgrounds. Learning from others experiences has helped me grow in my own career.

Something we did not know about you?  As a child, I lived in Germany for two years.

Coffee or tea? Both.
If you were stranded on a desert island, what three items could you not live without? My husband, Kevin, a good anti-aging SPF moisturizer and a Leatherman multi-tool.
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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