FZ Divisional Instructions

Updated 7/9/24 

I. Questions and Advice:

The Judge, Judicial Assistant and Court staff do not provide legal advice regarding how to proceed with any case. For assistance, you can contact the Self-Help Center at (561) 355-7048 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. You may also go to www.mypalmbeachclerk.com to seek information.  Additionally, the Palm Beach County Bar Association has a lawyer referral and information service at (561) 687-3266 and you can visit www.palmbeachbar.org. If you are unrepresented for financial reasons, you are encouraged to contact the Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach County (561) 655-8944, toll-free: (800) 403-9353 or legalaidpbc.org. Family law forms can be found on the Florida Supreme Court Family Law Forms - Florida Courts (flcourts.gov) and Family Division News page.

II. Self-represented Litigants and Attorneys:

  1. Self-represented litigants, please file an email designation. It is important for litigants not represented by counsel 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 communication from the Court.
  2. Parties are to attend mediation prior to setting a case for trial. Please e-mail CAD-MediationRef@pbcgov.org or call 561-355-2739 to be connected to your mediator. See Mediation. After mediation, a final hearing can be set by filing a proper "Notice for Trial" or Request for Final Hearing. After review of the file confirming all requirements are met an "Order Setting Final Hearing" will be provided by email. To schedule a hearing on a Motion, proper notice to all parties is required. The Court may set a hearing on your motion if it is in compliance with the Rules by providing an Order with the hearing date and time by email.
  3. Family Case Managers provide procedural assistance to the self-represented litigants, not legal advice. Please do not share with Court staff any facts or details about your case or call to schedule, reschedule or cancel a hearing or other Court events. Any request from the Court must be in form of filing a proper motion with proper notice to all parties. See Florida Court's Website or any of the Self Help Centers at the Courthouse locations. FZ Case Manager, Emily Mayberry contact information is (561) 330-1775. Status inquiries should be made using the Family Case Inquiry system.
  4. Email communications with the Judicial Assistant are limited to scheduling matters. You must copy all parties on communications with the Court; no ex-parte communications will be considered. Please do not provide proposed orders, exhibits, or filings to the Court email. If you are making a request to the Court, you must file a motion, which shall be provided to all parties and upload the same as an exhibit with a proposed form order by OLS to the division queue. 
  5. In an emergency, you can contact chambers by email to the Judicial Assistant at CAD-DivisionFZ@pbcgov.org, copy all parties and upload a proposed form order with a copy of your emergency motion as an exhibit by OLS.
  6. The following email address should be used for e-mail service to the Court regarding scheduling inquiries: CAD-DivisionFZ@pbcgov.org and copy to all parties.
  7. Please do not submit any documents via "E-Courtesy."
  8. Please do not email or upload proposed notices of hearings to be signed by the Judge as you are required to file the same in the case docket.
  9. Please do not provide case law by attachment, but reference all legal authority in a proposed order by OLS. All proposed orders must be sent to the opposing party so they may agree or object to the same.
  10. Please bring your own translator.
  11. If you have any questions regarding your adoption case, send an e-mail to centraladoptions@pbcgov.org.
  12. For questions regarding domestic violence matters please contact the Domestic Violence Division at (561) 355-4506. All hearings are set through the Clerk of Court.
  13. Parties must file their completion of Parenting Class certificates. See a List of parenting course providers
  14. Affidavits of Diligent Search and/or Service by Publication information can be found at Service by Publication Information Sheet and Court's Minimum Requirements.
  15. Trainings on the Court's online system can be found on the CourtHelp4U YouTube channel. The direct link on how to schedule and how to upload orders is Online Scheduling Home Page (youtube.com).

III. Online Scheduling:

All Uniform Motion Calendar hearings will be scheduled by: OLS (Online Services). Please include in all proposed orders and final judgments the following:

  1. status of the case and case history,
  2. proposed findings of facts,
  3. legal authority cited,
  4. confirmation of compliance with Local Rule 4 and the last time the parties attended mediation.
  5. a cover letter or note by OLS 24 hours before the hearing.
  6. please do not upload an order unless:
    1. your hearing has been agreed to by all parties (please do not unilaterally set or cancel hearings);
    2. a notice of the hearing was filed;
    3. you have attached the motion, response, and memorandum of law citing case law as an exhibit to the proposed order (please do not attach case law); and
    4. in cases of no agreement on the proposed order, each party may upload competing orders and must provide a copy to their adversary prior to providing the same to the Court (this provides everyone the opportunity to review and make appropriate objections).

Failure to follow judicial instructions, may result in the cancellation of the hearing by the Court. If you resolve your motion prior to the hearing date, please notify the Judicial Assistant via email and upload the agreed order of cancellation via OLS. 

  1. 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,  Contested hearings under an hour, all non-essential court proceedings and those requested by a party with approval of the Court will be by Zoom. Zoom hearing etiquette is the same as if the parties were appearing in the Courthouse itself.

  2. 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 that requires parties to confer prior to filing a motion. See Administrative Order 1.004. All parties must give proper notice of the motion with a courtesy copy of the motion and notice to the opposing counsel. The Court must receive a courtesy copy of the Motion/s by OLS attached to the proposed form of order 24 hours prior to the scheduled hearing. The Court will only allow a maximum of 2 (two) motions in one case to be set per day. All Motions must be noticed and time must be reserved for each motion. Unilateral setting of a hearing, adding a motion to a previously scheduled hearing on the same case with no time to address the same, or providing 24 hours or less notice is not permitted. Uncontested final hearings in dissolution, paternity, name change cases as well as status conferences will be heard during UMC, not contested evidentiary hearings or temporary custody. The Court will not adopt Paternity Agreements or Marital Settlement Agreements without a hearing. See Admin Order 5.201-6/19. Please ensure all required documents are filed with the Clerk of Court (Fla. Stat. §§61.052(7), (8); 61.21(4); Fla. Fam. L.R.P. 12.285(d)(j) before a hearing is scheduled. Please review and upload completed checklists under forms. Parties must give five days' notice to opposing counsel or pro se litigant, unless short notice is agreed by parties.

  3. Uniform Motion Calendar (UMC) ONLY (there are separate links for other hearing types). Zoom Meeting: Link [us02web.zoom.usMeeting ID :837 4469 0818

  4. Special Set Hearings:

    The Court will special set hearings after the parties have attended a 5 minute Status Conference/CMC set by the parties on the UMC calendar. Please do not call the judicial assistant The parties must upload a proposed form of order as indicated below in the motions section, which must include the status of the case and requested relief 24 hours prior to the UMC. In all post-judgement matters indicate the docket entry of the referral to the Magistrate, timely objection and order on the same. Please include a notice of unavailability and indicate when the parties attended mediation. Special set hearing times are set in 15 minute increments, please indicate the amount of time requested. Motions must be e-filed and docketed with the clerk and uploaded to OLS as Exhibit A with the proposed form of order. All motions and responses will need to be uploaded as attachments to the proposed form of order 24 hours prior to the hearing for the Judge to review, not emailed. The party requesting a hearing must confirm availability and confer before setting the conference with the opposing party. If the hearing is evidentiary, please indicate the same on the proposed Order on Special Set Hearing and cite to case authority, statute and/or rule. Parties may provide courtesy copies of their special set motions, memoranda of law and supporting case law to the Court 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 allows virtual hearings 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 and uploaded on the e-portal. Please indicate that the parties have complied with Local Rule 4 and the date the parties last attended mediation.

    Special set hearings cannot be cancelled except by further order of the Court. Orders must be uploaded through OLS specifically stating good cause for the cancellation in the proposed form of order.

IV. Motions:

  1. Notice of Hearing:

    All notices must clearly state the title of Motion being heard by the Court, must be served on all parties and filed in the case docket. The Court does not sign the same.

  2. Certifications:

    All motions must have proper certifications.

    1. 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 on certain dates "by telephone and email," but has not been able to resolve the issue. The motion and proposed order must indicate with specificity the efforts made including the date, time, and manner of each effort.

    2. Certificate of Service

      Please list each party served not "all parties". Examples of required language are:

      I hereby certify that a true and correct copy of the foregoing was served by US Mail on a specific date, specific address and specific names of counsel and/or parties of record. 

      I electronically filed the foregoing with the Clerk of the Court by using the courts e-filing 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.

  3. Specific Motions:

    1. Ex-Parte Motions to Compel Discovery:

      The Court requires that all parties comply with the division instructions and make a good faith effort to confer prior to filing motions, which applies to all counsel and self-represented litigants. See ADMINISTRATIVE ORDER NO. 3.202 10/2023. Further, Florida Family Law Rule of Procedure 12.350(b) provides that the Court may allow a shorter or longer time for a party to respond to production requests. All discovery motions and proposed orders must indicate the specific effort made to avoid Court intervention including telephone calls and emails.

    2. Motions to Withdraw:

      Attorneys must file a legally sufficient Motion to Withdraw. If there is an affidavit of client consent and certification that there is no opposition by the opposing party, an Agreed Proposed form of Order can be uploaded by OLS. The Agreed Order must include the new contact information including address, telephone number and email address as well as the current status of the case indicating hearing and trial dates pending as well as the last time the parties attended mediation. If there is no client consent and/or there is opposition by the other party, the motion should be set for a UMC hearing to allow argument. Note the motion must be more than bare assertion as to irreconcilable differences, which will enable this Court to determine if a requisite ground is present as enumerated in the Rules Regulating the Florida Bar 4-1.16(b). Schultz  v. State, 289 So. 3d 921, 924 (Fla. 4th DCA 2020). A proposed form of order as indicated above should be uploaded 24 hours prior to the scheduled hearing. All motions to withdraw require the parties to set simultaneously a Status Conference that all litigants must attend.

    3. Motions for Reconsideration or Rehearing:

      The motion for reconsideration must clearly state a mistake, inadvertence, excusable neglect, newly discovered evidence, or fraud under Florida Family Law Rule of Procedure 12.540(b)(1).  The motion for rehearing or new trial must comply with Florida Family Law Rule of Procedure 12.530 and provide specific grounds. All parties must make a good faith effort to confer to resolve matters in whole or in part prior to filing the motion, which must be indicated in the motion and proposed form of order. All motions must be attached as an exhibit to the proposed order and uploaded to the division queue the day the motion is filed. Please be cognizant of deadlines to file. The Court will determine if the same will be set. Please do not email the division CAD.

    4. Emergency Motions:

      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." A proposed form of order must be uploaded by OLS upon filing of the Emergency with the motion attached as an Exhibit. The Court will review the requested Emergency and will issue a ruling.

      Please do not entitle your motion "Emergency" unless it is of the utmost urgency and cannot be handled in the ordinary course without irreparable harm. When an Emergency motion is filed, the Clerk of Court forwards it to Chambers or to an alternate Judge that is providing coverage. If a child is in danger, immediate action is available through the Department of Children and Families (DCF) via the child abuse hotline (1-800-962-2873) or (1-800-453-5145).

    5. Notice/Motion to Set Cause For Trial:

      Notice/Motion to Set Cause For Trial is filed with Clerk's office. Please adhere to all instructions in Administrative Order 5.209. The Notice of Unavailability for both sides must be filed in the docket. Notice for Trial must include specific motion, petition/counter petition to be tried, and the estimate of time necessary for trial and confirm that the parties have attended mediation. The parties can be set for a Case Management Conference on Thursday between 9:30-10:00 am. Counsel may set the same for a status conference on the UMC.  

    6. Relocation: If a motion seeking a temporary relocation is filed, absent good cause, the hearing will be set no later than 30 days after the motion for a temporary relocation is filed and if a notice to set the matter for a nonjury trial is filed, absent good cause, the nonjury trial must occur no later than 90 days after the notice is filed, The parties will upload a proposed form of order and indicate in the proposed form of order when mediation took place and compliance with Local Rule 4..

    7. Motion for Contempt:

      Post judgement matters are to be referred to the magistrate pursuant to the Administrative Order. The motion must indicate when mediation last took place. All parties will attend mediation on finding of good cause or consent of the parties. The motion must be in compliance with Local Rule 4 and a proposed form of order must be provided by OLS 24 hours before the hearing. Failure to follow the division instructions may result in the cancellation of the hearing.

    8. Motion to Amend:

      All motions to amend pleadings must comply with the Rules and attached proposed amended pleading as Exhibit A. The proposed order must indicate that the amended pleading will be filed within ten (10) days of the filed order and the opposing party has twenty (20) days to respond to the same once it is filed. Please indicate if it is unopposed, but do not include language that it is "deemed" filed if granted. Please attach the motion and proposed amended pleading as an exhibit to the proposed form of order by OLS.

    9. Motions to Re-Open: 

      Please comply with Fla. Fam. L.R.P. 12.420.

    10. Status Conference:

      Please ensure the parties have conferred prior to the hearing and a proposed form of order is uploaded 24 hours prior to the hearing indicating compliance with Local Rule 4 and the parties desired outcome, which includes requested hearings and time needed for the hearing.  The parties must file their notices of unavailability prior to the conference for all requested special sets and trials.

    11. Motions to Vacate:  Pursuant to Rule 12.490(e)(5), the party seeking review must seek to schedule a hearing at the same time that the motion to vacate is filed with the court and failure may result in the denial of the same. Please upload a proposed form of order to set with the motion attached as an exhibit. Rules 12.490 and 12.491 state the deadline to file a motion to vacate is 15 days and if applicable operates as a motion for rehearing under rule 12.530.

    12. Motions to Set Aside Default:  Rule 12.500(d).

V. Proposed Orders:

Please send all proposed orders and final judgments in Font New Times Roman Size 12 with a cover letter and supporting documents including the motion for hearing, as well as memorandums, as Exhibits to the same via OLS 24 hours before the hearing. Failure to do so may result in the cancellation of the hearing.

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". The cover letter or note must indicate that the proposed order was provided to the opposing counsel first and the language was agreed upon or is disputed. 

Orders referring a case to mediation may include a zoom provision subject to the discretion of the Mediator. Please use the proposed form of order provided for the Court's ADR program mediation unless you are using a private mediator. If the parties are using a private mediator, all orders must include the name of the mediator, the hourly fee, the minimum fee, cancellation fee and the division of payment for the same.

Final Judgments and Orders will be e-filed to all parties or mailed for those without e-service. Administrative Order 5.204 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 (Online Services), in Word format and PDF format for Attachments, within five (5) days following the hearing, if not 24 hours before the hearing. Proposed order must specify the date of the hearing, counsel and parties appearing and if a court reporter was present.

All proposed Final Judgements (FJ) for the Dissolution of Marriage with Children and of Paternity must attach the proposed order one day before the hearing with exhibits: (i) Child Support Calculations, (ii) Parenting Plan with consent for mental health treatment for the child pursuant to Florida Statute Section 61.13(2)(b)3 (iii) Certificates of Completion of the Parenting class for both Parties (iv) the final agreement (v) Testimony at Final Hearing sheet (vi) Final Disposition form must be completed pursuant to Fla. Fam. L.R.P. 12.440 and Fla. Stat. §61.19, and (vii) proof of residency pursuant to Fla. Stat. §61.052(2) and the (vii) the Court checklist.

VI. Evidence:

All evidence/exhibits must be uploaded via the E-evidence feature located in the OLS (Online Services). A courtesy copy must be mailed to chambers, but the same does not excuse the requirement to use the E-portal. All exhibits must be pre-marked Petitioner or Respondent, case number, and exhibit number. Any witness appearing via video will 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.

VII. Domestic Violence Hearings:

All motions are to be filed with the Clerk in the Domestic Violence Division and cannot be set on the UMC or Special Set 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. Please note all DV hearings are recorded. If you seek a continuance you are required to do so timely by contacting the other party to obtain their consent and file a motion for the same with a proposed form of order uploaded by OLS. Please note that all hearings are in person. A motion to appear by zoom or for a witness to appear by zoom must indicate good cause for the same, conferral with the other party and an uploaded proposed form of order by OLS; if the motion is granted a special DV zoom link will be provided by the Court as it will be recorded (this is not the UMC zoom link).

Additional resources can be found at www.flcourts.gov.

VIII. Temporary Relief Hearings:

Temporary Relief Hearings require the parties to attend mediation prior to the hearing being scheduled. See Administrative Order 5.207.  All motions for Temporary Relief must indicate that the parties have attended mediation. After mediation, the parties may set a Status hearing on the UMC calendar to determine if the Motion will be set for temporary relief or final hearing. A proposed form of order must be uploaded 24 hours in advance of the hearing.

IX. 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.

X. Petitions for Custody:

All Petitions for Temporary and Final Custody must complete the Checklist on the Forms linked and uploaded with a proposed final Order to OLS prior to setting it for a hearing. A date will be provided, by the Court, once it is determined it is ready for hearing.

XI. 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. Hearings will be set thereafter. A status order from the Court may be issued to the parties. Following all requirements being met by the parties, the parties should upload a proposed final order and the Court will schedule a final hearing. For Name Changes, Counsel must upload a proposed form of order to set the case for hearing with the division checklist attached as exhibit A indicating all requirement have been met for Court review.

XII. Checklist:

Minor and Adult name changes, Temporary Custody, Dissolution of Marriage and Paternity cases must upload a completed checklist with the proposed form and order by OLS with supporting documentation attached as Exhibits. Anything uploaded by OLS must be provided to all parties and indicate if the proposed order is agreed upon.

XIII. General Magistrate Referrals:

Generally, the Magistrate's are able to schedule matters sooner. 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. The Order of Referral must include the date of filing, Magistrate 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 Kirigin for all Even Case Number and Magistrate Marcus for all Odd Case Numbers, for review. Please review each Magistrate's division page and their instructions on submitting proposed Orders via OLS. See Administrative Order 5.104. 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, the parties shall set a status conference on the UMC via OLS (Administrative Order 5.206), and attach a copy of the pleading and the order sustaining the objection as exhibits.