Emotionally Navigating Divorce and Capacity, Guardianship, and Divorce

Posted by: Dr. Justin D'Arienzo, Psy.D., ABPP

I (Dr. D’Arienzo)  had the distinct pleasure of providing the Jacksonville Bar Association with two training sessions on September 21, 2018 with my esteemed colleague, Christie Guerrero, Esquire. Ms. Guerrero presented about the complicated legal aspects and case law related to divorce, capacity, and guardianship. I had the much easier task of discussing what lawyers need to know when making diminished capacity referrals to psychologists and physicians, the evaluation process for capacity and guardianship, and medication and health conditions that temporarily and/or permanently cause a loss of capacity or diminished capacity. A key take away from my presentation was that capacity is often not binary but is related to a specific capacities with their own ranges to global incapacity. We use the term diminished capacity to reflect the many functions, demands for those functions and levels of functioning, that need to be assessed when determining guardianship. Lawyers need to provide information regarding the legal standard(s) to the psychologist or physician they are referring to so the clinician can determine how to evaluate each capacity. The legal standards to mediate and to divorce are unclear at this time. Additionally, I provided a framework, based on the research, for attorneys to assist their clients to better navigate the emotional process of divorce. We examined various grief models as well as how to foster resiliency to assist clients to psychologically and physically divorce from their partners in a manner that is healthy for them and best serves their children. After this specific presentation, there was a great deal of discussion related to better managing alienation, how to perform reunification therapy effectively, and when and to whom to refer clients who are experiencing disproportional reactions to the naturally immense strain of divorce.


Jacksonville Bar Continuing Legal Education Seminar Family Law Division September 21, 2018

8:30 a.m. – 9:00 a.m. Coffee/Breakfast

9:00 a.m. – 9:10 a.m. Welcome and Opening Remarks

9:10 a.m. – 10:25 a.m. Mental Health of Clients/Competency – Dr. Justin D’Arienzo and Christie Guerrero, Esquire

  • This presentation will focus on the best practices for practitioners to use with clients who are going through the emotional process of family law litigation. Presenters will advise practitioners on, not only what to say, but how to say it. Presenters will also discuss issues related to the competency of clients. Once an issue of competency has been identified, the presenters will assist practitioners with the next steps, including issues related to confidentiality.

10:25 – 10:50 a.m. Collaborative Law Update – Jaqueline Greene, Esquire

  • Ms. Greene will update attendees on the recent developments of the Collaborative Law Process Act and related rules. She will also discuss how collaborative divorce may be made a part of their practice.

10:50 – 11:00 Break

11:00 a.m. – 11:50 a.m. Tax Consequences in a Divorce– Josh Shilts, CPA

  • Mr. Shilts will present on the topic of Divorce-Related Tax Issues. This presentation will focus the consequences of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act which modifies the deductibility of alimony in 2019. Mr. Shilts will provide real life examples and assist the participants in understanding how these new tax consequences can affect other areas of a final judgment.

11:50 a.m. – 1:05 p.m. Lunch with Divorce Power Analyzer

  • While the attendees enjoy lunch, a representative from Divorce Power Analyzer (DPA) will review the components of DPA and survey the programs’ possibilities.

1:05 p.m. – 1:55 p.m. Appellate Law- William Grassele, Esquire

  • Mr. Grassele will provide an update of current family law case law. He will provide the attendees with a prediction of current and future trends in family law. Mr. Grassele will instruct participants on when and how to preserve an issue on appeal.

1:55 p.m. – 2:20 p.m. QDRO- Richard Tierney, Esquire

  • Mr. Tierney will present an intermediate to advanced discussion of the hidden issues that arise in the division of various retirement benefits as property in actions for dissolutions of marriage, specifically the recent modifications to the division of military retirement.

2:20 p.m. – 2:35 p.m. Break

2:35 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. Temporary v. Concurrent Custody – Jay Henderlite, Esquire

  • This presentation will focus on Florida Statute 751, Temporary Custody by Extended Family, and how temporary custody and concurrent custody are different. Mr. Henderlite will also detail how Fla. Stat. 751 is different from other family law litigation.

3:00 p.m. – 3:50 p.m. Domestication v. Registration- Zachary M. Alfant, Esquire

  • Mr. Alfant will discuss the differences between domesticating a foreign judgment and registering it. He will discuss strategic reasons for choosing one avenue over another, as well, as the limitations of each.