Published On: Sat, Feb 19th, 2011

Divorce law seminar touches on the serious and light sides of a tough profession

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By Mike Gora

The wife described what brought her to the brink of divorce to her newly acquired attorney by explaining that her husband, a retiree, monopolized the only TV in the house and only watched fishing shows and pornography.

“I told him,” she said, “I told him that he ought to give up the fishing shows, because he already knew how to fish.”

The crowd of about 1,100 divorce lawyers broke out in loud applause and laughter as Miami appellate attorney Cynthia Greene finished her joke, and went back to her annual presentation of the most important appellate decisions of the past year.

As usual, although her presentation wound up the day and a half divorce law seminar at Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club Hotels and Conference Center, nobody leaves before Cynthia talks. And many non-lawyer husbands and wives of attendees help fill the room just for the show.

Cynthia went on giving out tongue-in-cheek awards to the worst husband and worst wife of the year, and law firm as well, describing how one firm made sure it would go down in ignominy by bringing an appeal in a matter that could not be won, and in which the firm was embarrassed.

Humor bubbled up in many of the presentations.  Ky Koch of Clearwater, talking about equitable distribution,  put a poster on the four huge screens, which a wife had posted all over her town bearing a photo of her husband with the headline, “Lost Dog” and a description of how her husband  had been found in bed with her best friend.

Circuit Judge Peter Blanc of West Palm Beach opened his talk about paternity cases by playing the music from the original TV show “Mission Impossible,” and showing a photo of the cast, reminding us all that Leonard Nimoy had played a major role in that series well before he became Spock on “Star Trek.”

But Blanc went much further with the help of some Disney animations, by making Huey, Louie, and Dewey the subjects of a variety of paternity case situations.  “After all,” said Judge Blanc, “they were raised by their crazy uncle Donald Duck, for mysterious reasons; and Donald was always a candidate for an anger management program.”

The seminar is sponsored by the Family Law Section of The Florida Bar and The American Academy of Matrimonial Attorneys, and is billed as a prep session for the Board Certification Examination, although it provides continuing education credits for all attendees, whether or not they are already Board Certified, or plan to take the test.

The speakers and program were experienced and covered all of the major areas of family law, while providing three volumes of material for later study.  The day and a half gave the attendees, lawyers and judges alike, plenty of time to socialize with old friends, banter with colleagues, and find the best local restaurants and bars.

While it might be a difficult concept for you civilians to grasp, the matrimonial bar of Florida is made up of well meaning, conscientious, talented attorneys who have chosen a very difficult specialty because of the emotional nature of the problems that you ask us to help you solve.

Michael H. Gora has been certified by the Board of Specialization and Education of the Florida Bar as a specialist in family and matrimonial law and is a partner with Shapiro Blasi Wasserman & Gora P.A. in Boca Raton. (477-7800) or (mhgora@sbwlawfirm.com)

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