FZ Divisional News

Family Law Division "FZ": E-mail: CAD-DivisionFZ@pbcgov.org

EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY:  UNCONTESTED DISSOLUTIONS VIA ZOOM ON UMC:

At least 48 hours prior to an uncontested dissolution final hearing, Counsel shall upload via the OLS system a copy of the proposed judgment in Word format which has been approved by the other party and includes the amount of child support, if applicable, and direction on same.  A cover letter or the comments must indicate the proposed final judgment has been approved.  Additionally, attached to the proposed final judgment must be any agreements in PDF, proof of residency (DL or Witness Affidavit or Florida ID), a testimony form, and a final disposition form. 

FAILURE TO PROVIDE THIS INFORMATION WILL RESULT IN THE MATTER NOT BEING HEARD.THE PARTIES WILL BE REQUIRED TO RESET THE MATTER.

On October 3, 2022 the Florida Supreme Court issued AOSC22-51 In Re: Termination of Specified COVID-19 Emergency Operational Measures to Account for New Rules on Remote Conduct of Court Proceedings.  In accordance with the same, on October 4, 2022 the Chief Judge of the 15th Judicial Circuit issued A.O. 12.515.8-10/22.

The Court is now conducting in person evidentiary hearings including trials.  

If you have previously been noticed for a zoom evidentiary hearing or trial and have not complied with the evidentiary requirements below regarding exhibits and witnesses you must appear in person.  Additionally, the parties may agree to in-person proceeding see below.

Please check back frequently as this is subject to change. The Court's Static Zoom Link is below.

 

CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE - Certificates of Service with the language "ALL PARTIES" Is NO LONGER accepted in this Division. CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE SHALL LIST EACH PARTY SERVED.

Zoom Meeting Information

THE ZOOM LINK FOR DIVISION "FZ" WILL BE THE SAME EVERYDAY. No passcode.

Meeting Link: Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 837 4469 0818 / no passcode needed

Dial by your location:

  • US Toll-free 877-835-5257
  • US Toll-free 888-475-4499

PROPOSED ORDERS

ALL PROPOSED ORDERS ARE TO BE SUBMITTED TO THE COURT FOR REVIEW NO LATER THAN 48 HOURS FOLLOWING THE HEARING AND NO EARLIER THAN 48 HOURS PRIOR TO THE HEARING VIA OLS.  THE COURT DOES NOT USE E-COURTESY.

All proposed orders must be submitted through the OLS system. In the notes/comments section you MUST indicate whether it is one of the following utilizing one of the formats and exact language below:

  1. AGREED ORDER WITHOUT HEARING: [Name of Order / attached motion / agreement].
  2. ORDER AFTER HEARING: Parties agree the order [Name of Order] accurately reflects the Court’s ruling after the hearing on [DATE AND TIME OF HEARING].
  3. PARTIES CANNOT AGREE ON A PROPOSED ORDER [DATE AND TIME OF HEARING]. Attached is the transcript. Each party has submitted their own order with an explanation distinguishing the difference between the two proposed orders. The parties (attorneys and clients) understand the parties have a duty to attempt to resolve any conflicts and accurately set forth the ruling made by the Court.
  4. FUTURE PROPOSED ORDER FOR HEARING ON [DATE AND TIME OF HEARING]: Wife/Husband’s Proposed Order that has been provided to opposing counsel.
  5. PROBATE EX PARTE ORDER

Providing Documents to the Court for All Trials and Evidentiary Hearings

  1. Exhibits must be clearly marked. All documents I.E. Case Law, Exhibits, Etc. shall be sent by hard copy and received three (3) business days prior to the hearing.

    You must include the following when marking exhibits:

    Petitioner (Wife / Husband) or Respondent (Wife / Husband)
    Case Number:
    Date:
    Exhibit Number:
    Objection: Yes / No
    Admitted: Yes / No

  2. For very short hearings, that you would want the Court to only view a document you may send via e-mail two (2) business days prior to the hearing.
  3. Any witness appearing via video will be sworn-in by the court. Out of state witnesses appearing remotely must agree to being sworn in by video / zoom. It is incumbent upon the proponent of the witness to confirm the witnesses agrees prior to the hearing.
  4. 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.

Mail courtesy hard copies of documents larger than ten (10) pages in totality (ex.: motions, memorandum of law and legal authority) for Special Set Hearings to the Court for review in advance of all hearings 3 business days prior to the scheduled hearing. Judge Scher will review all motions, memorandum of law and legal authority prior to all Special Set Hearings. Legal authority is to be limited to the best three cases per issue absent good cause and no string citations.

E-mail courtesy copies of documents less than 10 pages (ex.: motions, memorandum of law and legal authority) for Special Set Hearings to the Court for review in advance of all hearings 3 business days prior to the scheduled hearing. Judge Scher will review all motions, memorandum of law and legal authority prior to all Special Set Hearings. Legal authority is to be limited to the best three cases per issue absent good cause and no string citations.

Trials/Evidentiary Hearings

Case management conferences: 

Parties frequently request a case management conference. Prior to setting a request for case management conference on uniform motion calendar via OnLine System, the requesting party shall file a motion with all of the following identified by docket number when appropriate, and date of filing:

  1. Indicate the docket numbers of the controlling pleadings;

  2. Indicate the docket numbers of the responsive pleadings including any counter-petitions and answers;

  3. If post judgment, identify the docket numbers of the referral to the Magistrate, timely Objection, and Order regarding the Objection;

  4. Indicate the date mediation was attended AND what issues, if any, were resolved;

  5. Indicate the docket numbers of both parties' Financial Affidavits and dates filed;

  6. Indicate the docket numbers of both parties' social security numbers filed;

  7. Indicate the docket numbers of both parties Notice of compliance with Mandatory Disclosure;

  8. If children: indicate the docket numbers of each parties' certificate of completion of Parenting Course (NOTE: the person requesting case management MUST have completed course).

  9. The requesting party must have a telephone or zoom conference with the other party's counsel to discuss and include in the motion any outstanding motions that have been filed and requests to be heard prior to trial and all matters set forth in Family Rule of Procedure 12.200.

  10. Upon compliance of the above, counsel may coordinate a UMC via the OLS system and the Court will decide if additional case management conferences / pretrial conferences are required.

Requests for Trial Date:

When a case is at issue, file a Notice for Trial including the following, with a courtesy copy to Court :

  1. Indicate the docket numbers of the pleadings at issue ready to be tried with AMOUNT OF TIME REQUESTED;
  2. Indicate the docket numbers of the responsive pleadings at issue ready to be tried including any counter-petitions and answers;
  3. If post judgment, identify the docket numbers of the referral to the Magistrate, timely Objection, and Order regarding the Objection;
  4. Indicate the date mediation was attended AND what issues, if any, were resolved;
  5. Indicate the docket numbers of both parties' Financial Affidavits and dates filed;
  6. Indicate the docket numbers of both parties' social security numbers filed;
  7. Indicate the docket numbers of both parties Notice of compliance with Mandatory Disclosure;
  8. If children: indicate the docket numbers of each parties' certificate of completion of Parenting Course (NOTE: the person requesting trial MUST have completed course).

Instructions for Special Set Hearings 

Family Division "FZ" participates in the Online Scheduling for Special Set Hearings for hearings thirty (30) minutes. If no times appear, please check the system regularly for new dates and times. As dates and times are available they are released into the online system.

Please email the Court's judicial assistant for special set hearings that require 15 minutes or longer than 30 minutes by email. Email the judicial assistant, copying the other parties, to obtain available dates and times to coordinate with the opposing party. [submit requests to CAD-DivisionFZ@pbcgov.org for family cases; CAD-DivisionIZ@pbcgov.org for probate cases] In the email request, the party requesting the hearing will provide case number, complete style of the case, amount of time needed, the motion(s) to be heard including full title of the motion and filing date(s) of the motion(s) or docket entry number(s), if available. Once all parties have coordinated in good faith and selected a date, the party requesting the hearing is to email the judicial assistant to verify that the date selected is still available. Once parties receive an email confirmation that the date and time is secured they may file their Order Setting Hearing through the Online System.  Kindly be advised, delay in coordination and securing the date may result in losing the date.

Uncontested Dissolutions of Marriage

Uncontested Dissolutions of Marriage require a hearing at UMC.  They may be conducted in person and/or hybrid as parties can choose to appear both by zoom and in person. Parties appearing via Zoom must provide proper notice to all parties. The Courts static zoom link is listed above.  The proposed final judgment must be submitted via OLS only in WORD format. Documents listed below must be attached to the proposed final judgment in PDF format:

  1. Testimony at Final Hearing
  2. The Final Disposition Form
  3. Mediated Settlement Agreement (Only if it is to be merged with the Final Judgment)
  4. Parenting Plan (Only if it is to be merged with the Final Judgment)
  5. A copy of your client’s driver’s license - The driver's license issue date must demonstrate residency 6 months prior to filing of the petition.
  6. A cover letter needs to specify that all parties, pro se or opposing counsel, have reviewed the Final Judgment and have no objection. Also, if there are children involved, the Final Judgment needs to incorporate specifics on child support (i.e. how much, how it is to be paid, & how often it is to be paid.)

Contested Evidentiary Hearings and Dissolution Trials

For all dissolution trials:

A pre-trial stipulation must be filed no later than 2 business days prior to hearing with a courtesy copy submitted to the Court via email. If a joint stipulation cannot be reached, counsel must certify the attempts to obtain one, including that counsel provided the submitted unilateral proposed stipulation to opposing counsel at least 48 hours prior to submission to the Court with no response.

The stipulation must include the witnesses to be called, the agreed to issues, disputed issues with the relief requested by each party, disputed assets and liabilities (see below), proposed parenting plan, proposed child support guidelines.

Pursuant to Florida Statute Section 61.075 (3):

In any contested dissolution action wherein a stipulation and agreement has not been entered and filed, any distribution of marital assets or marital liabilities shall be supported by factual findings in the judgment or order based on competent substantial evidence with reference to the factors enumerated in subsection (1). The distribution of all marital assets and marital liabilities, whether equal or unequal, shall include specific written findings of fact as to the following:

  1. Clear identification of nonmarital assets and ownership interests;
  2. Identification of marital assets, including the individual valuation of significant assets, and designation of which spouse shall be entitled to each asset;
  3. Identification of the marital liabilities and designation of which spouse shall be responsible for each liability;
  4. Any other findings necessary to advise the parties or the reviewing court of the trial court's rationale for the distribution of marital assets and allocation of liabilities.

Counsel must provide the Court a written numbered list of every disputed asset and liability with proposed value addressing all of the above no later than 2 business days prior to the hearing.

The Court is cognizant that many evidentiary hearings cannot be handled remotely unless the parties can reach agreement on some of the procedural or evidentiary rules. Parties must have had a remote conference prior to the hearing for all evidentiary hearings establishing the same. Witnesses and court reporters also will appear remotely. If the parties have not complied with these instructions and a remote hearing may not be effectively conducted, the Court will discontinue the hearing and reset the hearing for an in-person hearing.

Please contact Judge Scher's office via email if you desire to schedule an evidentiary hearing. If you believe that your case requires emergency action pursuant to Family Admin. Order 5.203-1/17, you should file the appropriate motion in writing.  DO NOT CALL UNLESS YOUR MOTION HAS BEEN FILED WITH THE CLERK.

Local Rule 4

The Court requires strict compliance with amended Local Rule 4. Prior to setting a matter on the motion calendar, the party or counsel noticing the motion shall attempt to resolve the matter and shall certify the good faith attempt to resolve. See amended Local Rule 4.

If all parties agree, Judge Scher will rule on any motions based on the written pleadings and responses without the necessity of a hearing.

For questions regarding how to upload or schedule via OLS, go to the 15thcircuit.com, scroll to the bottom of the page and click on "CourtHelp4U".

Self-Represented Parties (Pro Se)

If you are a self-represented pro se party (with no attorney), you must contact the Family Court Case Manager for questions and guidance regarding your case.

Martinique Pierre 561-330-1775

Do Not Send Letters, Emails or Notes to the Court

The Court does not act on letters, notes or emails sent by either party. The Court acts on petitions or motions properly filed with the Clerk of the Court. File the appropriate petition or motion with the Clerk of the Court, send a copy to the opposing side and a courtesy copy to the Court in order for requests to be addressed by the Court. All communication and/or documents emailed to the Court must state that they were emailed to the opposing side in the same email or they will be returned as ex parte communication.