FC Divisional Instructions

Questions and Advice: Neither the Judge nor the Judicial Assistant can give legal advice regarding how to proceed with any case. For assistance, you can contact the Self-Help Center at (561) 355-6781 located on the first floor of the Main West Palm Beach Courthouse or visit the self-service center in the Clerk's Office in the Satellite Courthouses. Additionally, the Palm Beach County Bar Association has a lawyer referral and information service at (561) 687-3266.

Family law forms can be found on the Florida Supreme Court Family Law Forms - Florida Courts (flcourts.gov). See https://www.15thcircuit.com/article/family/news. [15thcircuit.com]

Uncontested final hearings for self-represented litigants can contact Case Manager Tara Kranz at (561) 355-1764.

Email communications with the Judicial Assistant are limited to scheduling matters. Ex-parte communications will not be considered. If there is an emergency and you need to contact chambers please email the Judicial Assistant at CAD-DivisionFC@pbcgov.org and copy all parties.

The following email address should be used for e-mail service to the Court, requests for hearings, setting of motions, and inquiries CAD-DivisionFC@pbcgov.org with a copy to all parties. Please do not submit any documents via “E-Courtesy."

If you have any questions regarding your adoption case, send an e-mail to centraladoptions@pbcgov.org .

For questions regarding domestic violence matters please contact the Domestic Violence Division at (561) 355-4506.

Email Designation: Litigants not represented by counsel that have access to email are encouraged to fill out and file with the Clerk an email designation form [15thcircuit.com]. This will allow the Court to submit orders to the parties via email instead of sending by the U.S. Postal Service, which will greatly reduce the time for the parties communication with each other and the Court.

Online Scheduling: All Uniform Motion Calendar and Special Set hearings will be scheduled by: OLS [e-services.15thcircuit.com] (Online Services). Please send all proposed orders and final judgments via the OLS one (1) day before the hearing. If you resolve your motion prior to the hearing date, please notify the Judicial Assistant via email, upload the agreed order of cancellation via OLS.

Uniform Motion Calendar (UMC): Reserved for short motions that are 5-10 minutes or less, which can be set by a party that has complied with Local Rule 4, which requires that the parties confer. See https://www.15thcircuit.com/sites/default/files/administrative-orders/1.004.pdf [15thcircuit.com]. All parties must give proper notice of the motion with a courtesy copy of the motion and notice to the opposing counsel and JA. The Court will only allow a maximum of 3 (three) motions in one case to be set. Uncontested final hearings in dissolution, paternity, name change cases as well as case management conferences will be heard during UMC, not contested evidentiary hearings or temporary custody. Parties must give five days notice to opposing counsel or pro se litigant (unless short notice is agreed by parties).

Special Set Hearings : The Judicial Assistant monitors the online scheduling on a regular basis and will open dates as they become available. Hearing times are set in 15 minute increments for a maximum of 1 hour per case per day. If there is a substantial need for more than an hour the request should be made to the CAD and the JA will respond accordingly. Motions must be e-filed and docketed with clerk before hearing dates can be given or a hearing can be set. All motions will need to be mailed for Judge review, not emailed. The party requesting a hearing must confirm availability and confer before setting the hearing. Special set hearings must be scheduled online. Please do not call the judicial assistant if there are no available hearing dates or if the parties cannot agree to a date or time. If the hearing is evidentiary, please denote the same on the proposed Order on Special Set Hearing and provide case authority in advance. Accordingly, all parties should provide courtesy copies of their special set motions, memoranda of law and supporting case law to the Court at least five (5) five business days before the hearing via US Mail and designate the date and time of the hearing. Parties should highlight or otherwise mark the key language in the most pertinent and important cases and key exhibits for the court and opposing counsel. The Court intends to handle hearings by video whenever possible, however, this will require the highest level of professionalism and cooperation between opposing counsel and parties. No less than five days prior to each hearing, the parties must exchange all proposed exhibits which they intend to reference during the hearing. Each proposed exhibit must be pre-marked for identification.

Zoom: Pursuant to Florida Supreme Court Administrative Order AOSC21-17, and Local Administrative Order 12.515-06/2021*, effective June 21, 2021, all trials and hearings will be conducted in person, except the following, which will occur via Zoom, until further order of the Court: UMC Hearings, Lack of Prosecution hearings, Case Management and Status Check hearings, Uncontested final hearings for self-represented litigants, Contested final hearings for self-represented litigants may continue to be heard via Zoom unless otherwise objected to by the parties, Notice of Contest hearings, Post Judgment simple motion hearings for self-represented litigants & all hearings previously noticed to occur via Zoom, which is subject to approval by the Court. All non-essential court proceedings and those requested by a party with approval of the Court will be by Zoom. Everyone is expected to dress professionally.

Uniform Motion Calendar (UMC) Zoom Meeting: Link [us02web.zoom.us]

Meeting ID: 963 0759 4064

Passcode: 23684444

Motions:

All motions must have a certification of service and certification of conferral. Examples are below:

LOCAL RULE 4 CERTIFICATION

Counsel for the movant has conferred with all parties or non-parties who may be affected by the relief sought in the motion in a good faith effort to resolve the issues raised in the motion and has been unable to do so; or

Counsel for the movant has made reasonable efforts to confer with all parties or non-parties who may be affected by the relief sought in the motion, which efforts shall be identified with specificity in the statement (including the date, time, and manner of each effort), but has been unable to do so.

The movant hereby certifies that on ______ the parties conferred via email / telephone /text and the parties agree on ____(A) all of the motion (B) only a part of the motion, namely _______ (C) or ____ the motion is opposed.

CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE

I hereby certify that a true and correct copy of the foregoing was served by US Mail on the following date ___ on all counsel or parties of record as follows ________.

I electronically filed the foregoing with the Clerk of the Court by using the courts eFiling system. I further certify that I mailed the forgoing document and the notice of electronic filing by first-class mail to the following non-efiling participants: ______________

Notice of Hearing: All notices must clearly state the title of Motion Hearing being heard by the court. That includes trial and the type of trial, which must be e-filed and served on all parties.

Proposed Orders: Please send all proposed orders and final judgments via OLS the day before the hearing. Please send courtesy copies of motions for UMC, special set hearings, memorandums, and case authority shall be printed and sent five (5) business days before hearing to avoid possible cancellation by the court. Please indicate if the proposed order is an “Agreed Order Without Hearing” with the attached agreement, “Order After Hearing” which the parties agree accurately reflects the Court’s ruling, “Disputed Order After Hearing” with the court transcript attached, and “Future Proposed Order for Hearing on the Specific Date provided to opposing party”.

Evidence: All evidence/exhibits should be uploaded via the E-evidence feature located in the OLS [e-services.15thcircuit.com] (Online Services). A courtesy copy can be mailed to chambers for Zoom hearings and must be brought for in-person hearings. All exhibits must be pre-marked Petitioner or Respondent, case number, and exhibit number. Any witness appearing via video with be sworn-in by the court. Any witness appearing via telephone (no video) must have a notary public available to be sworn-in or have filed an Affidavit if a notary is not available.

Paternity and/or Uncontested Dissolution of Marriage Agreements: will be set for a final hearing on the UMC Calendar Docket. The Court will not adopt Paternity Agreements or Marital Settlement Agreements without the hearing. See Admin Order 5.201-6/19. Please ensure all required documents are filed with the Clerk of Courts (Fla. Stat. §§61.052(7), (8); 61.21(4); Fla. Fam. L.R.P. 12.285(d)(j) before a hearing is scheduled. Testimony at Final Hearing sheet and Final Disposition form [15thcircuit.com] must be completed (available on the 15th Judicial Circuit Website). Mail copies of the Motion and Notice of Hearing five (5) business days prior to the UMC hearing. See Fla. Fam. L.R.P. 12.440 and Fla. Stat. §61.19. Please upload proof of residency Fla. Stat. §61.052(2) and the proposed order one day before the hearing.
 

Domestic Violence Hearings: All motions are to be filed with the Clerk in the Domestic Violence Division and cannot be set on the UMC Calendar. The motion will be forwarded to the Judge for review. The Judicial Assistant cannot cancel or change hearings. For questions regarding domestic violence matters please contact the Domestic Violence Division at 561-355-4506.

Temporary Relief Hearings: require the parties to attend mediation prior to the hearing being scheduled. See Administrative Order 5.207 [15thcircuit.com].

Emergency Motions: are filed with the Clerk via e-portal and click the Emergency Filing box that states, "Check This Box to Specify That This is an Emergency Filing." The Court will review the requested Emergency Motion and emailed Order, which will be provided to all parties.

Notice/Motion to Set Cause For Trial: is filed with Clerk's office. Please adhere to all instructions in Administrative Order 5.209 [15thcircuit.com]. The Court must receive a courtesy copy of the notice for trial and copies of all current Notice of Unavailability for both sides via the CAD email above. In cases where one side is represented by an attorney and the other side is pro se, the notice shall contain the e-mail address for the attorney and the physical street address for the pro se party unless a notice of email designation was filed. Submit the notice with a self-addressed stamped envelope stapled to the Notice for Trial for the pro se, and the trial order will be served via judicial e-service and to those designated by U.S. Mail. Notices must include specific motion, petition/counter petition to be tried, and the estimate of time necessary for trial.

Service and Preparation of Judgments And Orders: Final Judgments and Orders will be e-filed to all parties or mailed for those without e-service. Administrative Order 5.204 [15thcircuit.com] requires that some portion of text of the Order be included on the signature page. All Final Judgments must have a 3X3 inch space on the top-right-hand corner for recording purposes. The Clerk will not docket or record the Final Judgment without this space. Proposed Final Judgments and/or Orders should be submitted via the OLS [e-services.15thcircuit.com] (Online Scheduling), in Word format and PDF format for Attachments, within five (5) days following the hearing, if not before the hearing. Proposed order must specify the date of the hearing.

Certificates of Service: shall list each party served not “all parties”.

Notices of unavailability : to be filed on all cases.

QDRO : Attorneys are to draft the QDRO and send to the Plan Administrator for pre-approval. Once the Plan Administrator states the QDRO is pre-approved in letter form, submit the proposed QDRO to the court for signature, represent that it was pre-approved and attach a copy of the pre-approval letter. File a copy of the "qualification" letter with the Court.

Adoptions and Name Changes : All adoption and name change statutory requirements must be met before a final hearing will be set. Termination of Parental Rights (TPR) Final Hearing requests must be put in writing to the Judge and are set by the Judicial Assistant once all requirements have been met. Staff Attorneys review all adoptions and name changes and no hearings will be set until that time. A status order from the Court may be issued to the parties. Following all requirements being met by the parties, the Judicial Assistant will contact the parties to schedule a final hearing. If you have any questions regarding your adoption case, send an e-mail to centraladoptions@pbcgov.org.

General Magistrate Referrals: All post judgment modifications, motions for contempt/enforcement of final judgement matters are to be referred or assigned to the General Magistrate. Other than those dealing with child support, any other Post Judgment relief requires an Order of Referral to Magistrate. Orders of Referral are to be sent directly to the Magistrate for review. See https://www.15thcircuit.com/division/Magistrate-05/news [15thcircuit.com]. The Order of Referral must include the date of filing, Magistrate Marcus is assigned, and the hearing room number of the Magistrate listed immediately above the style of the case, which must be sent directly to the Magistrate for review at CAD-MJCA-K@pbcgov.org. Please review the Magistrates Webpage for the instructions on submitting proposed Orders via OLS. See Administrative Order 5.104 [15thcircuit.com]. Please note that child support post-judgment matters are heard by the Magistrate and no Order of Referral for post-judgment child support matters are required. See Fla. R. Fam. P. 12.490 and Fla. R. Fam. P. 12.491. A party may file an objection to the referral. After an Order Sustaining Objection is docketed, set the hearing via OLS (Administrative Order 5.206 [15thcircuit.com]), send the Order Specially Setting Hearing in Word format to the CAD email above with a copy of the pleading and the order sustaining the objection to the judge's office.