Friday, December 19, 2014


A Case Management Conference is a meeting scheduled by the Judge to review the status of your case.  The substance and procedure of a Case Management Conference varies from Judge to Judge.  Some Judges require the client to attend the Case Management Conference, while other Judges do not mandate the attendance of the client, nor do they necessarily mandate the attendance of the Attorney for the client (if that client's Attorney has arranged for another Attorney to cover the matter for them.) 

Pursuant to Family Law Rules of Procedure 12.200(a), the purpose of the Case Management Conference is to schedule or reschedule service of motions, pleadings and other papers; set or reset the time of trials; coordinate the progress of the action if complex litigation factors are present; limit, schedule, order and expedite Discovery; schedule disclosure of Expert Witnesses, and discovery of facts known and opinions held by such Experts; schedule and hear motions related to the admission or exclusion of evidence; pursue the possibility of settlement; require filing preliminary stipulations; refer issues to the General Magistrate for findings of fact, if consent is obtained; review if there is a history of Domestic Violence, and if not a prohibiting issue of Domestic Violence, refer the Parties to mediation; coordinate voluntary binding arbitration; appoint Court Experts and allocate expenses for appointments; refer the cause for a Parenting Plan recommendation, social investigation and study, home study and psychological evaluation and to allocate the initial expense for the studies and evaluations; appoint an Attorney or Guardian Ad Litem for a minor child(ren) if required and allocate the expense of that appointment; and schedule other conferences or determine other matters that can aid in the disposition of your divorce.

A properly run Case Management Conference by the Judge saves time and money for the case and allows for better communication between the Attorneys.  This creates a more efficient / amicable result in your case.  A poorly run Case Management Conference by the Judge only reviews whether or not the case is ready to be put on a trial docket or if there should be another Case Management Conference, and therefore they are only proceeding with the Case Management Conference because it is mandated by the Family Law Rules of Procedure.  It is my opinion that this type of Case Management Conference is a waste of time and resources.  A proper Case Management Conference is one  that the client attends and the Judge thoroughly reviews the case file, pending motions, mandatory disclosure dates and assists the Parties in scheduling mediation.  This keeps the case moving along and avoids an Attorney (without ethics) from stalling the case if it is to their client's advantage (for example:  delaying the ability to set a temporary hearing wherein your spouse would have to pay you temporary Alimony, child support/Attorney Fees and Costs.) 

In "English", ask your Attorney about the Case Management Conference and how the Judge assigned to your case runs his or her Case Management Conference.  Discuss with your Attorney whether or not your attendance at the Case Management Conference is mandatory or advisable, and ask your Attorney to explain to you why it is in your interest to properly prepare for the Case Management Conference and how this will help your case.  Ask your Attorney how you can assist in the preparation for the Case Management Conference, and as always, tell your Attorney what you want and confirm what you want via email.  I hope the Judge assigned to your case properly runs his or her Case Management Conference.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014


A seasoned divorce attorney knows immediately at the end of a case whether or not the soon-to-be former husband and former wife will be returning to court in the near future and spending all of their college savings for their children on attorneys while re-litigating issue after issue for the next 15 years.  A bad parenting plan is a bad parenting plan.  The term among divorce attorneys and divorce judges is simply, "Garbage in, garbage out," which means the skill and effort put into an agreement or trial is directly reflected in the agreement or judgment by the Court.  One section of your Marital Settlement Agreement with Parenting Plan (MSAPP) is a parenting plan itself.  Avoiding these top 10 parenting plan mistakes may save you many thousands of dollars in the future and years of frustration and inconvenience dealing with divorce attorneys and spending time in the divorce courtroom.

The Top "10" Parenting Plan mistakes are:

1.               The use of a non-specific parenting schedule (using terms such as "liberal and frequent time sharing") versus a defined and understanding time sharing schedule.
2.               Failing to consider future residential moves by either party, whether short or long distance.
3.               Failing to consider electronic document sharing (health, education, extra-curricular activity, etc.)
4.               Failing to consider travel and travel restrictions, including foreign travel to countries that are not parties of the Hague Convention (this allows a mechanism for return of your child if wrongfully detained in the foreign country.)
5.               Failure to discuss whether eye care, braces or mental health, etc. constitutes health treatment, the initiations of said treatment and the sharing of costs.
6.               If you child(ren) is(are) young, failing to discuss changes to time sharing and other aspects of the Parenting Plan after the child(ren) reach(es) a certain age and start(s) elementary school, middle school and high school.  Furthermore, failure to discuss transportation issues for the child once he or she is 16 years old and he or she is of age to have a driver's license (i.e., automobile, insurance, etc.)
7.               Failure to have a unified "chore" list at both residences, and failure to have a unified "discipline" system at both residences.  Failure to define a communication schedule and type of communication, including when, how often, who pays for it, type (electronic, cell or landline, etc.)  Some former spouses still enjoy being passive-aggressive and calling the child at 6:45 a.m. when they know the entire family is sleeping.
8.               Failure to discuss and develop a policy whether pictures of your child can be posted on the internet (Facebook, etc.) by you or a third party.
9.               What is the role of step-parents or significant others?  And for the purposes of introduction, etc., when does that person become a "significant other"?  What is the role of grandparents and extended family?
10.           Failure to define support and financial planning.  How much support will be paid for matters as extra-curricular activities, tutoring, etc.? How will it be paid?  When will the financial obligation end?  College funds and life insurance should also be defined, and again determine when the financial obligation for those will end.
Please note the Florida Supreme Court has a "form" Parenting Plan.  It is of essence to understand this is merely a form developed by one committee.  Pursuant to Florida Statute Ch. 61, there are some mandatory provisions that must be incorporated in the Parenting Plan.  However, there are only approximately six mandatory provisions in a Parenting Plan, and therefore you can be as creative as you want in all other clauses.  You can put anything you want in the Parenting Plan as long as it is legal and your former spouse either accepts it or you convince the Court to adopt it.  My clients have included clauses that include types of acceptable clothing to wear at school (when they are concerned that the other parent does not have adequate taste or maturity to properly dress a child); specific prohibition of contact with known "bad" relatives; mandatory drug testing and the consequences for testing positive for certain substances.
The Parenting Plan is your opportunity to have a contract with your former spouse / parent / partner for your child(ren) that will solely benefit the child(ren) by having consistency and routine between the residences and a unified front, and a proper Parenting Plan is the only way to prevent your child(ren) from playing the two of you against each other, as they have keenly observed you and your former spouse pushing each other's buttons for probably a long period of time and they have observed precisely how you react (unfortunately, other than responding) when said button has been pushed. 
Your imagination is the only limitation when developing additional clauses for your Parenting Plan.  Remember, the power of the pen (or keyboard).

Thursday, August 7, 2014


If you and your former spouse have a toxic relationship, I can assure you it is detrimental to your child(ren).  If you actually care about your child(ren) (versus a false social persona) there are seven (7) simple steps you may take to dissolve your toxic relationship. 

You must do the following:

1.       Admit I am in a conflicted co-parenting relationship;

2.       Acknowledge that this relationship is not good for my child(ren);

3.       Admit where I have done wrong;

4.       Make a list of those I have harmed;

5.       Apologize to those I have harmed;

6.       Start the new co-parenting relationship this minute with a code of behavior /
         In every situation do the decent thing; and

7.       Take a daily inventory.  See the mistakes and strive to do better.

It will help to keep a daily notebook with regard to your progress per these seven steps.  The only question is whether you have the courage to do this, and whether your love for your child(ren) is greater than the conflict / despise / hatred you have for your former spouse.  Only you can answer that question and only you can accomplish these seven (7) steps.  Even if your former spouse refuses to change their behavior and he/she continues with a toxic relationship, you may lead by example for yourself, for other people, and most importantly, for your child(ren).  Teach your child(ren) how a mature, aware and rational parent acts and responds.  It is simple, and your child(ren) is(are) expecting and relying upon you to be the bigger person.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014


Divorce is great.  I often speak to large and small groups, and I also instruct continuing legal education regarding marital law.  Recently I was an instructor for the National Business Institute regarding tax issues and parenting plans for divorce attorneys in continuing education.  I was also invited by the National Association of Social Workers in June, 2014 to speak for three hours on divorce issues at their annual national conference in Weston, Florida.  I enjoy speaking engagements for several reasons, one is that in order to talk about something you must know the subject inside and out or it will not naturally flow from you and you will embarrass yourself.  I enjoy meeting attorneys who may be starting their divorce practices and taking these continuing legal education classes.  I enjoy debating with my colleagues who are experienced in divorce issues at these seminars.  And most of all I enjoy stand-up comedy so I am always able to practice some of my "routine" during these seminars.  Unfortunately, there is no chance I will ever be able to "quit my day job" in exchange for my stand-up routine.

The point of this blog is that I start off every seminar or general presentation by saying, "I LOVE DIVORCE!"  After I say it, I will say it again, and the reaction of the audience is always quiet, uncomfortable, with glares of disdain at me, and there is general confusion on how I can say this adamantly, confidently and with a smile of approval!  The answer is simple.  I love divorce because every human being deserves a partner of love, dedication, loyalty and friendship.  I love divorce because if you are married and your relationship with your current spouse is such where you are not happy, where you do not pinch yourself every morning and rejoice because of your partnership, where you cannot be yourself when you are out at dinner with your spouse, and just generally you are not happy, assuming efforts to reconcile the marriage and relationship have failed (as at one time you and your spouse thought each other were the best thing since sliced bread and that is why you married), the only path to your happiness is to divorce your spouse.

Yes, it is painful!
Yes, you may still care a great deal for your spouse!
Yes, you may have wonderful memories with your spouse!
Yes, it may be difficult on your child(ren)!
Yes, it may be difficult with your friends and family!
Yes, your spouse may not agree with you! [1]
Yes, you may have to reduce your standard of living.

Divorce is the only way you may find your true one and only partner.  Most people have the same fears and dreams.  Most people desire a partner to share their life and to love.  I myself would rather be cold, hungry and homeless in a cardboard box than "fake" my happiness in a partnership where I am no longer happy, and I simply will not be, no matter what.  It is not fair to fake a relationship with your partner if they have opposite feelings.  However, it is in their best interest that the marriage is dissolved as it is patently unfair that they are in a relationship that is not mutual with integrity as they themselves deserve a partner who is truthful to them about their feelings and truly cares and loves them as a married partner.  By "existing" in a relationship where you are not happy, you are doing a great disservice to your partner because the relationship is not real, and they deserve a real relationship that involves mutual honesty and feelings.

So, I love divorce because it is the only way to be fair to your partner, so that they do not invest energy in false feelings and hence a false relationship, and it is the only way for you to find the true happiness, love and the partner you are seeking, or whom you have found.  You and your partner should celebrate the times of your life when you were together, when you did interact and love each other, when you did participate as parents and a family.  However, life is dynamic and ever-changing.  People change.  Relationships change.  Chemicals in the brain of your partner may change and chemicals in your brain may change, and although you may look like the same person as you did 10 to 30 years ago, as does your partner, because the chemicals in your brain have changed, you are not the same person, nor is your partner.  Your partner must accept this fact and dissolve your partnership with dignity and honor while looking forward to supporting each other in your next adventure(s).

As I have been involved in over 1,250 marital and divorce cases in the last 26 years. One funny side note that I have noticed very prevalent in divorces is that the person who may not have originally agreed with the divorce and the person who may not have wanted to dissolve the marriage initially, even with struggles in the beginning, usually ends up with the "last laugh" as the universe tends to have a miracle waiting for them eventually, and they tend to find a partner who brings them great happiness, love and integrity, which then grounds them as a person, and then they wonder why they did not "love divorce" as their spouse who initiated the proceedings.  Of course, if the proper energy can be intended with pure thoughts from both the husband and wife to the future of each other, I have observed that many more times than not both the husband and wife, who are now the former husband and former wife, each enter into and find a relationship of "pinchable" quality.  Sometimes it just takes time, healing and belief.

I love divorce because it dissolves false relationships and allows each person to return to a real and honest relationship. A divorce should be celebrated as much as a marriage is celebrated based on the natural truth that all humans deserve a loving partner.  By the way, if you are a widow, some of this analysis is proper because you have the foundation and love of your prior relationship to move forward and use it as a base for your next relationship.  As a realist you must understand, with the 7-billion humans on this planet, there is probably more than one person whom you could love and have that "pinchable" partnership.  We all fear loneliness and we all dream for a proper partner.  It is time you are honest with yourself.


[1] However, if your spouse truly cares about you, they would support your decision to cease the relationship because they would want you to be happy.

Thursday, May 1, 2014


There are several warning signs when your spouse is unfaithful to you, not just with another person but with the checkbook.  Some of the signs are: 

1.     When you ask questions about money, the responses are evasive or defensive;

2.     You ask your spouse to hold a regular household financial meeting once every two weeks and your spouse does not respond or simply balks;

3.     Credit card statements, bank statements and other financial statements simply disappear and never arrive in your mailbox or your email;

4.     There are unexplained or unexpected cash withdrawals or other transfers on financial statements when you do find them to review;

5.     Your spouse insists that you sign financially related documents that you do not have a chance to review and they simply say there is no need for you to review it as they have "handled it";

6.     Your spouse always seems to have new clothes, new "toys" and "things" as compared to you while you are being very frugal with your money and do not buy new items; and

7.     Bank accounts and credit card statements show frequent shopping sprees at odd times and frequent purchases from internet sites which you are unaware exist.

If your spouse is cheating on you financially, there are ways to prevent it or potentially cure it unless it is being done out of anger to "get even" with you or to force you to open your eyes and initiate a divorce.  Your spouse may just have other issues causing their actions, or simply may be financially immature.  Some good suggestions to prevent, reduce or cure their actions are:

1.     Come to a specific understanding with your spouse about spending limits;

2.     Spot-check all financial statements and create a calendar to demonstrate what financial statements (bank accounts, credit cards, etc.) are due from your institutions;

3.     If your spouse is truly financially handicapped (versus intentionally doing it out of anger or spite) respond with compassion to their money missteps;

4.     Be aware of the dates and surrounding facts when your spouse tells you a purchase was on sale for a surprisingly low price so that you may double-check with friends;

5.     Read your most recent tax return with all of the attachments and supporting documentation;

6.     Ask a friend who is educated and experienced in tax returns to do them with you so that all of your questions are answered, and

7.     If your spouse actually cares about you and they are intending to be with you for a long duration, then see a properly trained therapist to get help learning how to handle money-related behavioral and mental issues.

Unfortunately, excessive spending habits in a marriage does not help you in your dissolution, as excessive spending habits create a "higher" standard of living, and by having a higher standard of living, the "status quo need" for alimony is higher, and therefore if your ability to pay is sufficient, and the other requirements for alimony are met, you may have to pay a much higher amount of alimony than if your spouse was frugal.

Therefore, be aware that simply complaining to the Judge and thinking you will receive sympathy and compensation because your spouse was spending so much money frivolously and out of control may be very dangerous. 

Never be Penny-wise and Dollar-foolish.  Be Penny-foolish and Dollar-wise!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

TALKING PARENTS is a website intended to be a free replacement for email, text, and any other electronic messages between co-parents.  It is ideal for all shared parenting situations from Dissolution of Marriage to “No Contact” matters, and it is also great for parents who get along just fine. 

Again, IT IS FREE.  It only takes about a minute to sign up and the company represents they do not share your email address with the other parent.  All new messages are clearly marked until they are viewed, and you can post a new message in any conversation at any time. 

Once you sign in you can create a new conversation for discussion at any time by clicking on the “new conversation” button.  You may attach up to five files to each message and the company records the details of every file transfer.  However, the files themselves do not become part of the record.  You can download your complete record in PDF format at any time for free, email a copy to any email address directly from the company’s site, or you may order a securely-bound copy from the company. 

It is easy to manage your account when your email address, password, time zone and contact information changes.  The records include the content of each message, when each message is posted, when each parent signs in and out, every time a file is shared, and even when a parent first views a new message but does not respond.  Records do not contain any personal contact information such as email addresses or telephone numbers.  If needed for a court hearing or other need, one may order a full-color, securely-bound, and personally-certified copy of their record.

Parents may agree to use on their own, or you may ask your Attorney to obtain a Court Order to communicate exclusively through this service if you believe a record would benefit you or your child(ren), or your Attorney / Judge desires to review each party’s ability to communicate regarding shared parenting issues.

I would ask anyone who uses this shared parenting program to advise me of their opinion / experience by posting a comment to this Blog so I may determine whether or not to advise this for use by my clients (and to Judges), as it is a relatively new program which I have not used in my practice.

I look forward to hearing from you.