Posts

Next Generation Divorce Honors Hillsborough Judge Ashley Moody

As one of my last duties as president of Next Generation Divorce, I had the opportunity to induct Judge Ashley Moody of the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit as an Honorary Member of the collaborative practice group at our December holiday party.  Judge Moody, based out of the Edgecomb Courthouse in Tampa, Florida, has been a strong supporter of the use of collaborative family law as a method to help families resolve issues related to divorce and other matters in a private, nonadversarial, and respectful setting.

Judge Moody’s induction into Next Generation Divorce was announced in the January 15th edition of the Florida Bar News:

Read more

When Is A Guardian Ad Litem Appointed in Florida?

You may have heard the term “guardian ad litem” and wondered what they were and when they were appointed.

In a Florida divorce or child custody case, a guardian ad litem is a professional who looks out for the best interests of a child.  Florida Statutes Section 61.401 describes the circumstances under which a guardian ad litem is appointed:

In an action for dissolution of marriage or for the creation, approval, or modification of a parenting plan, if the court finds it is in the best interest of the child, the court may appoint a guardian ad litem to act as next friend of the child, investigator or evaluator, not as attorney or advocate. The court in its discretion may also appoint legal counsel for a child to act as attorney or advocate; however, the guardian and the legal counsel shall not be the same person.

Read more

Lie in Hernando County Family Law Court Leads to Jail Time

According to a report in the Tampa Bay Times, a woman in a Hernando County Family Law Court was seeking to get a domestic violence restraining order against her mother when she made some odd statements.  When asked about her extensive criminal background, the woman claimed that she was a DEA agent.

Hernando County Judge Stephen E. Toner gave the woman several opportunities to change her testimony, but she did not.  The family law judge then requested that the Sheriff’s Office check on the woman’s claim, which turned out to be bogus, and the woman was found to be in contempt of court and sentenced to 5 months and 29 days in jail.

Read more

Video: A Former Family Law Judge’s Perspective

Judge Michael Porter, a former family law judge, discusses topics ranging from Judge Judy, to emotional versus legal family issues, to alternative forms of dispute resolution (such as collaborative practice and mediation) in the following video:

Read more

Technology and Florida Family Law Courts

The Commentator, which is the official magazine of the Florida Bar Family Law Section, recently published an entire issue dedicated to technology utilized in the practice of family law.  Thirteenth Judicial Circuit Judge Catherine M. Catlin was interviewed in this edition, and she discussed the impact of technology in Hillsborough County Family Law Courts:

Q: What types of technology do you use in your family law courtroom?

Judge Catlin: Almost every family law courtroom in Hillsborough County has been installed with Skype [computer video conferencing software]. Skype allows participants in the litigation proceeding, who are not in the courtroom, to feel like part of the proceeding because they can see the judge and the judge can see them. Using Skype also allows the family law judges to swear in witnesses not in the courtroom so that a notary does not need to be on the witness’s end. We can now do adoptions through Skype or telephone. Also, we are cognizant of the cost of expert witnesses and now expert witnesses can testify through Skype, eliminating the portal to portal fees that most experts charge.

Q: What types of technology do you see attorneys use in your courtroom?

Judge Catlin: I see attorneys play back videos such as video depositions or Children’s Justice Center tapes. Also, attorneys themselves bring their laptops to court to take notes. Other than that, there are not a lot of other types of technology used.

Read more

Hillsborough County Announces New Judicial Assignments

Chief Judge Manuel Menendez, Jr., of the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit of Florida, recently entered Administrative Order A-2012-24, which outlines new judicial assignments for Hillsborough County.  Below are the assignments for the Family Law Division, effective June 25, 2012:

  • Division A – The Honorable Cheryl K. Thomas;
  • Division B – The Honorable Paul L. Huey;
  • Division C – The Honorable Catherine M. Catlin;
  • Division D – The Honorable Daniel H. Sleet;
  • Division E – The Honorable Nick Nazaretian;
  • Division F – The Honorable Caroline J. Tesche; and
  • Division Y (Title IV-D Child Support Enforcement) – The Honorable Herbert M. Berkowitz.
We welcome Judge Nazaretian and Judge Berkowitz to the Family Law community.

Read more