2017 Foreword (Rev. Shannon Marie L. Berry)

F  O  R  E  W  O  R  D

Rev. Shannon Marie L. Berry

Planning a wedding is an exciting time. From choosing colors, designs, and flower arrangements; registering for household goods, china, and crystal; having the perfect photographer record the day’s event; and dancing the first dance at the reception, a great deal of time and effort goes into the development and execution of the “perfect day.” When a couple stands before me committing themselves to each other and become a family, it is always my hope that they will find their “happily ever after.” However, there is one thing I recognize within the couple: They are not perfect people. Every human grew up within a family unit of some sort, whether good or bad. Every human has had years of experiences that have shaped their personalities, responses, and outlook on life. Often, more effort is put into the wedding day and not planning for the marriage itself. Marriage is work and sometimes hard work. When a child is introduced into the family of two, things can become even more complicated. The bundle of joy that was safely tucked away for nine months arrives. The parents no longer have a full night’s sleep, baby stuff is all over the house, and sometimes the parents do not remember the last time they showered. The couple who may have worked hard to learn to live together, now have to learn how to live with a non-verbal human. Once again, the family experiences the couple brought to the relationship show up. Perhaps one chose to never be like their parents, perhaps the other wants to be just like their parents. Communication can get strained.

As a clergywoman, my hope is that a family unit can learn to live with one another in a healthy relationship. However, I recognize that families consist of imperfect humans and sometimes families have to divide into smaller parts. It is a beautiful thing that people like my dear friend and fraternity brother, Eddie Stephens, are available to walk a family through difficult times such as these. Eddie has a heart for assuring children are well cared for, all parties receive a fair and equitable decision, and the smaller family unit can continue forward. He does all of this with professionalism, poise, and grace.

It has been my pleasure to know Eddie almost twenty years. He has shown me how to work in a stressful career and remember self-care is not only important, but necessary. His philanthropic endeavors are a great example of giving of one’s self for the joy of giving and not for personal gain. Eddie’s personal motto is “Do Something that Matters”.

In furtherance of that mission, Eddie is donating a portion of the proceeds from this book to an organization near and dear to both our hearts. The Leadership Foundation of Delta Sigma Pi was established to assist in leadership training, professional development, and scholarships for the young men and women of Delta Sigma Pi. You can learn more at their website, www.deltasigmapi.org/foundation .

It is often said in Delta Sigma Pi, “A Brother is a Brother for Life.” Eddie models this phrase by remaining an active leader in Delta Sigma Pi and the Leadership Foundation. His passion to influence the next generation of leaders in a positive way can be seen as he volunteers his time by sharing with collegiates his experiences in business, law and life. He shares not only his successes, but becomes vulnerable by sharing his failures. Often times, it was through the failures that he gained success. Eddie has also put his money where his mouth is by giving and raising funds to provide educational grants to Delta Sigma Pi students at the University of Miami, Florida Atlantic University, and Florida International College. Because Eddie raised over $20,000 for this specific purpose, Delta Sigma Pi named the scholarship after him.

The other portion of the proceeds from this book will be donated to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Suicide is a situation that calls us to recognize the preciousness of life. The mission of AFSP is to “save lives and bring hope to those affected by suicide.” They have set a goal to reduce the annual suicide rate in the U.S. 20 percent by 2025. “Suicide most often occurs when stressors exceed the current coping capacity of someone suffering from a mental health condition.” You can learn more at their website, www.afsp.org.

I will never forget the day I sat with a family as a chaplain following the suicide of their loved one. The unanswered questions were many and the pain was excruciating. They shared how mental illness had consumed their loved one for years and it seemed no one could help them. On that afternoon, I returned home exhausted and emotional. I remember hugging my family a little tighter that evening. In my desire to be able to better help in the future and following Eddie’s example to “Do Something that Matters,” I have been trained in Mental Health First Aid.

Eddie’s life was affected by the suicide of Erik Cahill in February. Erik’s mother, Angela, is one of Eddie’s primary paralegals. Erik had been battling addiction and mental health issues in which his family was not fully aware. At Erik’s funeral, Eddie cooked for those gathered and shared his own story of healing. Not stopping with the funeral, Angela, Eddie, and Erik’s sister, Jessica, have used this experience to “Do Something that Matters.” Jessica found an AFSP walk as way to take action. For his birthday this year, Eddie asked for his friends to make a donation for the Polk County Out of the Darkness, Suicide Prevention Walk. As their group raised the most money, they carried the banner for the opening parade at the walk. Taking a situation with the ability to devastate family and friends and rising above to “Do Something that Matters” is a core tenant of Eddie Stephens’ life. The greatest testimony to his influence is when friends and family begin doing the same.

I pray you will be as blessed from your relationship with Eddie Stephens as I have been and find the world is better because of his small steps to make a difference.

Blessings and Peace,

Rev. Shannon Marie L. Berry, M.Div., Holston Conference of the United Methodist Church


About Stephens’ Squibs:

eb_crzyed_3dOnce a year I collect all of my “squibs” (brief case law summaries focusing on Florida family law) and make the material available in a book format. I am honored and proud to present the 2017 Edition of Stephens’ Squibs Florida Family Case Law Updates.  Something that started as a personal learning tool unexpectedly morphed into a respected and requested resource by colleagues which is why I always offer the material for free on this website.

For reasons stated in this year’s Foreword, any money raised off of this project (through purchase of physical book or e-book) will be donated to American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and Leadership Foundation of Delta Sigma Pi.

In addition to squibbing, 2016 was an extremely prolific year in writing for me and I had included some of my favorite published essays.


“Eddie’s squibs are a great resource, and every marital and family lawyer in Florida should keep a copy front and center on her desk.” –Laura Davis Smith, Esquire Chairwoman, Family Law Section of the Florida Bar

“I remember receiving Stephens’ Squibs over 10 years ago.  Now, it is most definitely not the small firecracker it once was.…  Simply the best …I refer to it all the time.” –Robert M.W. Shalhoub, Esquire

“Eddie Stephens’ Squibs are a quick, easy to read summary of appellate case law that family law practitioners should be sure to include in their resource tool kit.   It is a major “go to” resource that I rely upon when I am looking to check on the latest developments in the law and to point me in the direction of the appropriate full appellate opinions.”  –Honorable Diane M. Kirigin, General Magistrate, 15th Judicial Circuit

Eddie’s book – and all his squibs – are amazing – as an appellate attorney I always have to remind myself to keep the case to its holding and Eddie always keeps me “honest” – and his case summaries bring to mind my favorite Albert Einstein quote: “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”   That was one smart dude and so is Eddie – buy his book – I know I will (again)!” –Allison Perry, Esquire

Eddie Stephens provides an invaluable resource for those wanting to keep abreast of the ever-evolving area of Florida Family Law. As both a lawyer and academic, I also highly recommend this book to professors teaching Family Law in Florida. The textbooks can give the basics, but since family law is a creature of state law, giving students a real glimpse (not to mention a good preparation for the bar) into how our ever-changing statutes are being interpreted, is a gift. -K Grossman

Mr. Stephens provides a brilliant conglomeration of case law updates, interviews with judges and personal advice in Stephens Squibs. The case law review helps the attorney that practices in other areas to understand more easily the law surrounding family issues in Florida. For most attorneys, no matter their practice area, family comes up at some point in the representation and it is nice to have a guide that is so easily accessible to reference just so that we, as attorneys in other fields, can quickly answer some questions and have the knowledge to refer in other areas. -Dena Sisk Foman

Excellent resource for the non-attorney litigation support specialist. A quick reference for financial, accountants, CPAs and mental health professionals that assist divorce attorneys with litigation and settlement services. Highly recommended. -FLDivorcePlanner

Attorney Stephens has provided to the literary marketplace and fine example of a squib…”a short humorous or satiric writing or speech.” This purchase is not only entertaining; it is informative to the reader. I would most definitely consider this purchase. I know that I am glad that I did. Thank you Counselor! -J. Barrett Carter
I found Stephens’ Squibs to be a short, thorough and concise analysis of Family Law caselaw in Florida. Excellent resource for attorneys and non-attorneys alike! -Luis E. Insignares

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