Notice of Annual Meeting

The FLAFCC Annual Meeting is at 10:00 a.m. Saturday, December 4, 2021 (Zoom log-in information to follow via e-mail on December 2, 2021)

Although we regret being unable to meet in person at the Florida Hotel & Conference Center for our Annual Meeting as originally scheduled, we look forward to meeting you virtually at the Annual Meeting.

In order to avoid scrambling through all your emails to find the meeting Zoom link, the Zoom link will be sent to you on Thursday, December 2, 2021 via email.

As members of FLAFCC you all know the value of belonging to this amazing International Organization which includes, but is not limited to:

• Access to the website with interesting and informative content
• The Family Law Review with cutting edge content
• Information throughout the year along with our Advanced Education Program that keeps us well informed of new information in our disciplines around the globe
• Numerous webinars from leaders in the field


Maria C. Gonzalez
Maria C. Gonzalez, Esq
President, FLAFCC

*official release


FLAFCC Board Member Nominations

The following members of the Florida Chapter of the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts have been nominated to serve a three year term on the Board of Directors. The election will be held at the time of the Annual Membership Meeting for which notices have already gone out for December 4, 2021 at 10:00am via Zoom.

Rose Patterson
Katrina Volker

Maria C. Gonzalez
Maria C. Gonzalez, Esq.
President, FLAFCC

*official release


17th Annual Advanced Education Program Virtual November 2021 – February 2022


Please join us for workshops that offer cutting-edge information, are inspirational in content and provide practical tools for family law professionals.

Keynote address by Bill Eddy, LCSW, Esq.

Chief Innovation Officer of the High Conflict Institute “How to Work With High-Conflict Personalities”

Additional presentations on:

Cyber Threats and Impact on the Family Law Community

Risk Management and Culture: Why You REALLY Should Care About Cultural Competency

Aging and Conflict: Intersection of Professional Roles and Florida Elders

Case Law Update: Domestic Violence

Child Development: What You Need to Know to Work With Your Clients

Alternative Dispute Resolution: Emerging Practices

Find out more!

AFCC Uncategorized

Resistance, Reunification, and Relocation: Reaching for Better Solutions

A Full Day Webinar Presented by: Association of Family Law Professionals
Friday October 2, 2020 8:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

About Our Presenters
Benjamin Garber, Ph.D. is a New Hampshire licensed psychologist. He provides child-centered forensic evaluations, testamentary and non-testamentary consultation to attorneys, Guardians ad litem and courts in the full range of family law matter. Dr. Garber provides training for family law professionals around the globe and consults to a variety of child-centered organizations. He publishes prolifically in both popular press
and juried professional publications on topics in child and family development and family law. His most recent book, “Mending Fences: A collaborative, cognitive-behavioral “reunification” protocol serving the best interests of the post-divorce, polarized child (Unhooked Media 2020) applies empirically proven cognitive-behavioral methods to remedy resist/refuse family dynamics. Dr. Garber is the proud father of two and
grandfather to twin toddlers.

Dr. Jan Faust is a full professor at Nova Southeastern University. She developed the Child and Adolescent Traumatic Stress Program which is a clinical training and research facility serving children exposed to traumatic events including child abuse, witnessing interpersonal violence, experiencing highly conflictual families, accidental injury and medical traumas. Dr. Faust has obtained research and foundation grants and has published her scholarly products in peer-reviewed journals and book chapters in the area of child, adolescent and family psychology and health. Her most recent publication is Reunification Family Therapy: A Treatment Manual, Published by Hogrefe 2018. Faust serves as an academic expert witness and conducts reunification family therapy, forensic psychological evaluations, social investigations/parenting plan evaluations and family mediation in her private practice.

Christina “Christy” O’Brien is a stockholder with Henderson, Franklin, Starnes & Holt, P.A. representing clients throughout Southwest Florida. She focuses her legal career in all aspects of Divorce, Marital and Family Law and has been honored for her pro bono work. Christy often handles highly emotionally-charged matters including: dissolution of marriage proceedings; custody, paternity, and child support issues; as well as domestic violence injunctions and post judgment modifications issues. Christy currently serves on The Florida Bar Family Law Rules Committee and on the Fort Myers American Youth Baseball Board of Directors.

Mr. Ryan O’Halloran focuses his practice in Family Law. He is a member of the Family Law sections of the Lee County Bar association, The Florida Bar and the American Bar Association. He regularly travels around the state and country to participate in the educational conferences and other programs offered by these organizations. He has chaired the “Law in the Mall” committee for the Lee County Bar Association.

Mr. Gus Simmons is an attorney and has been a member of the Florida Bar since 2004. He is also licensed to practice in Missouri and the Federal Courts of Florida’s Middle District. Mr. Simmons has been a Florida Supreme Court Certified Circuit Civil and Family Mediator since 2010. Further, Mr. Simmons is a member of The Fund, a licensed title insurance agent and licensed Florida Realtor.



High Risk Indicators for Intimate Partner Homicide

by Shena Kitt, InVEST Program Coordinator and Cynthia Rubenstein, MS, LMHC, CCR Specialist Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence

Navigating criminal justice, legal and social services systems can be a daunting task for survivors of intimate partner violence. However, certified domestic violence centers, social service providers, and legal, criminal justice, and other allied community partners can assist survivors in finding safety and justice through the implementation of proactive strategies that hold perpetrators accountable for their violence. A coordinated community response, such as the Intimate Partner Violence Services Team (InVEST), emphasizes perpetrator responsibility through enhanced criminal justice response and increased support services available to survivors.

InVEST began in Jacksonville, Florida, as a partnership between the local certified domestic violence center, Hubbard House, Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, and the City of Jacksonville. Between 2006 and 2009, the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence and the Office of the Attorney General identified 11 Florida counties with the highest rates of domestic violence homicide to provide funding for the expansion of InVEST in those communities. Since that time, InVEST partnerships have implemented batterer accountability measures and provided enhanced advocacy for more than 3,000 survivors per year who are identified as a high risk of being murdered by their intimate partner. Since the program’s inception, there have not been any homicides of InVEST participants. This is particularly notable since InVEST participants enter the program based on their experience of evidence-based, high-risk behaviors perpetrated against them by their partner or ex-partner.

Despite programs such as InVEST, domestic violence homicides continue to occur in alarming numbers in Florida. The Annual Uniform Crime Report (UCR) statistics released in May 2018 by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) reflected a 9.5 percent decrease in domestic violence murders in 2017 from the previous year. However, domestic violence manslaughter deaths increased by 28.6 percent during the same time period. There were a total of 180 domestic violence-related homicides in Florida in 2017.1

It is essential that communities engaged in the work to end domestic violence are familiar with batterer behaviors that have been identified as high-risk indicators for the escalation of violence and lethality. Examples of these indicators include:2

  • Perpetrator has a prior history of domestic violence
  • Perpetrator controls all/most of their partner’s daily activities
  • Perpetrator exhibits extreme and/or violent jealousy toward their partner
  • Perpetrator attempts to strangle their partner
  • Perpetrator is stalking, making threats, destroying partner’s property
  • Perpetrator owns a firearm or has access to weapons

2 Campbell, J. C., Webster, D., Koziol-McLain, J., Block, C., Campbell, D., Curry, M. A., Laughon, K. (2003). Risk Factors for Femicide in Abusive Relationships: Results From a Multisite Case-Control Study. American Journal of Public Health, 93(7), 1089 1097.

  • Perpetrator has sexually assaulted their partner or forced sex in the past
  • Perpetrator is living in a home with their partner’s children who have a biological parent other than the perpetrator

Survivors are often the most aware of the danger the perpetrator presents to their safety. They experience the threats and violence first hand and understand the perpetrator’s capacity for escalation. Survivors who express that their partner will kill them need to be believed and validated. The fear of ongoing violence and death often contributes to why survivors stay in an abusive relationship.

A perpetrator’s violence does not simply end when the survivor leaves the relationship but is instead likely to escalate. 3 Leaving or preparing to leave the relationship can be the most dangerous time for a survivor of intimate partner violence. A survivor may only leave when she believes the circumstances are safe to do so or because she believes she will be killed if she stays. Additionally, survivors often stay to protect their children since abusive partners are frequently granted joint custody of children in common when the couple separates. When this occurs, children may be at an increased risk of harm since they spend time with the perpetrator without the survivor there to protect them.

Florida’s 42 certified domestic violence centers provide free and confidential services to survivors of domestic violence, including supportive counseling, advocacy, emergency shelter, access to a 24-hour crisis hotline, safety planning, information, and referrals. The Florida Domestic Violence Hotline connects survivors, their friends, family members, and community partners to the certified domestic violence centers in their area. The Florida Domestic Violence Hotline can be reached at 1-800-500-1119 (TDD 1-800-622-4202/ Florida Relay 711). In addition, attorneys are available on the Florida Legal Hotline to answer survivor’s legal questions regarding injunctions for protection, divorce, custody, housing, immigration, and other legal matters at no cost. The Legal Hotline may be reached through prompt three on the statewide hotline. Interpreter services are available for survivors with limited English proficiency on both hotlines.

Please visit or contact for additional information on high-risk indicators, or to request training for your organization.

3 United States Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Crime Victimization Survey, 2015.