Originally published in the May/June 2020 edition of Res Ipsa Loquitur
I hope all our fellow Family Law shut-ins are weathering the COVID storm. I’m not sure what everybody else thinks, but I have to say, I don’t hate Zoom mediations. Typically, for me, I’ll first meet (via telephone or Zoom) with the client to discuss the upcoming mediation. Besides discussing the process and possible questions, as well as strategy and bottom lines, I will let them know that they are lucky we are conducting the mediation via Zoom. I tell them that in a normal “old style”, on site mediation, we have lots of downtime when the mediator is in the other room. With Zoom, once we have discussed whatever we need to discuss after the mediator has left the virtual room, I can leave the sound on, but do other work at my desk, so I don’t have to bill the client for downtime. Win-win. We don’t have to stare at each other uncomfortably, and they pay less in attorney fees. I do think it’s very helpful to provide the mediator with appropriate documents and a synopsis of the issues prior to the mediation.
A Zoom hearing is another matter. It can be difficult to direct a witnesses’ attention to a specific exhibit or section of the exhibit. I suppose, with practice, it will get better. If you haven’t experienced a video hearing or trial, go to www.17th.flcourts.org for “video of a remote mock trial”. It is a civil jury trial, but you’ll get the idea.
Take a look at Carter v Carter, 45 Fla. L. Weekly D868, a 4th DCA case. Not earth shattering, but reminds us to Florida Family Lawyerby Scott Schiltzlook at our cases carefully. The trial court erred in calculating retroactive support. The Husband had been paying $900 per month to cover expenses of both the wife and children during the period of time from court determination that retroactive support was due. The 4th District, citing Julia v Julia, 263 So. 3d 795 (4th DCA 2019) indicated that the Husband should have been given credit for “in kind” contributions. The Wife’s gross monthly income should have reflected the value received from the Husband pursuant to F.S. 61.30 (17)(b).
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