Requirements and Information
January 3, 2023
Attorneys and parties must follow the 12th Judicial Circuit’s Local Rules, including the Standing Family Law Court Order for Manatee, Sarasota, and DeSoto Counties (AO 2013-16.12, as amended), and adhere to the 12th Circuit’s Standards of Professionalism (AO 2010-22.2, as amended).These and other important documents are available on the 12th Circuit’s Documents & Forms page.
Parties have a continuing duty to supplement their financial affidavits whenever a material change in their financial status occurs. See 12.285(f), Family Law Rules of Procedure. If a Supplemental Petition is filed, a new financial affidavit must be filed by both parties. See Mandatory Disclosure in Rule 12.285(e)(1), Family Law Rules of Procedure.
Attorneys and parties should bring or have access to their personal and professional calendars at every court appearance in case the matter must be rescheduled or continued.
The responsibility for scheduling an interpreter rest solely with the person in need of interpreting services. The Court does not automatically schedule interpreters. Interpretation services can be requested by telephone, e-mail, or submission of the online request form. Each court event must be scheduled separately with the interpreter’s office. Requests for court interpreters should be made at least five (5) business days in advance of the scheduled court event. Requests made with less than five (5) business days’ notice may not be accommodated. In cases where interpreting services are required for languages other than Spanish, additional time may be necessary to arrange for a qualified interpreter or a telephonic interpreting service may be used.
For inmates in Manatee County custody:The scheduling party is responsible for notifying the bailiff’s office three (3) business days prior to a hearing if an inmate needs to be available by videoconference or telephone or transported from the jail. Failure to notify the bailiff’s office may require cancellation of the hearing. The bailiff’s office can be reached by calling (941) 747-3011 ext. 7963. Inmates in custody outside of Manatee County:It is the responsibility of the party to make arrangements for an inmate’s availability, whether in person or by telephone.
Links to Administrative Orders, Court Forms, External Resources, Guardian ad Litem Forms, and Rules & Procedures
The judicial assistant cannot answer your legal questions and will not “explain” your situation to the Judge. Your opportunity to speak to the Judge happens only in court.
Do not contact the judicial assistant to get updates or inquire as to the status of your case. Rather, you should contact the Public Access department of the Sarasota County Clerk of Court and request “Attorney of Record” or “Party” access to their case. This will allow greater access to documents available on the Clerk’s website.
Please read if you do not have an attorney
The Judge must apply the same rules to all parties, regardless of whether you have an attorney. The Judge may not talk to you about your case outside of the courtroom, so please do not call to speak with the Judge. Judge Brewer’s Judicial Assistant can help you schedule a hearing. The Judicial Assistant may not help you with your case or send information to the other party or attorney for you. The Judicial Assistant may not “give the Judge a message.” Please do not ask the Judicial Assistant for the outcome of a hearing or verify that an order has been signed; you may review the Sarasota County Clerk’s website for details about your case. Please remember that whenever you file something with the Clerk or provide the Judge a copy, you must send a copy to all the attorneys or parties at the same time.
The Clerk’s office requires evidence admitted during an evidentiary hearing to be in paper format without leave of court. Unless the Court instructions you otherwise, please provide the Court’s Judicial Assistant two paper sets of all evidence at least two business days before the hearing/trial. One set will become the official exhibits Judge Brewer delivers to the Clerk. The other set will be for Judge Brewer’s use. Unless the Court directs otherwise, the Plaintiff/Petition should mark their exhibits ahead of time as “Plaintiff/Petition 1, 2, 3, etc.,” and the Defendant/Respondent should mark their exhibits ahead of time as “Defendant/Respondent A, B, C, etc.”
The Court has limited technology available for use in the Courtroom. There are two basic considerations you should keep in mind when planning on using electronic evidence. First, whether the Court has the electronic capability to review the electronic evidence in the Courtroom. Second, how the Clerk will “receive” the electronic evidence. Wherever possible, please convert your electronic evidence into paper format and introduce the paper copy. For instance, electronic pictures, text messages, and the like can be printed out and introduced into evidence. If you have electronic evidence that cannot be converted into paper format—e.g., video files—please place all such files onto a single thumb drive when possible. You are still responsible to broadcasting the electronic evidence within the Courtroom.
Petitions and motions that by law must be served upon the Judge (e.g., writs, appeals, recusal motions), must be either emailed to the Court’s Judicial Assistant or hand delivered to the Court Deputy station on the 1st floor of the South County Courthouse. Additionally, please call the Judicial Assistant to advise her of the service.
Email is strictly a method of communicating basic information and sending documents and is not a medium to state a position, make an argument, or attempt to persuade the Court on a substantive or procedural matter. Emails to the judicial assistant should be devoid of information or statements that are unnecessary, superfluous, irrelevant, or adversarial. Arguments should be confined to letters, motions, memoranda, and legal documents attached to the email.The Judicial Assistant’s email should not be copied with scheduling emails between attorneys and parties.
Unless otherwise noted in these Requirements, all hearings should be scheduled through the Judicial Automated Calendaring System (JACS).
If the title or subject matter of the motion is not listed in the drop-down menu of choices, select “Unlisted Motion.”In the “Notes” section, you must type in the complete and exact title of your motion and the date the motion was filed with the Clerk.
If multiple motions are being scheduled for the same time slot, the “Notes” section must contain the complete and exact title of each motion and the date that each motion was filed with the Clerk.
Any “Unlisted Motion” not specifically described in the “Notes” section will not be heard.
These Court events will be in-person in the Courthouse: jury trials, nonjury trials, evidentiary hearings 75 minutes or more, and interpersonal violence injunction hearings (e.g., Domestic Violence, Stalking, etc.). The parties by motion may seek an alternate appearance method. These Court events will be held in Courtroom D, South County Courthouse, 4004 S. Tamiami Trail, Venice, Florida 34293.
All other hearings can be in-person, by Zoom, or both at the discretion of the party.
Judge Brewer has a hybrid Courtroom, meaning that Judge Brewer can conduct Court with parties appearing in-person and remotely via Zoom simultaneously. This is not (yet) a circuit wide set-up, and most Judges in the Twelfth Circuit do not yet have access to a hybrid courtroom.
Exhibits for evidentiary hearings as well as indexes/exhibit lists must be delivered to the Courthouse in two hard-copy sets (one for the Judge and one for the Clerk) at least two days prior to the evidentiary hearing. Plaintiff/Petitioner’s exhibits are to be numbered, i.e. “1, 2, 3…” and Defendant/Respondent’s exhibits are to be lettered, “A, B, C…” This is, of course, the same procedure to be followed for trial exhibits. For smaller cases, the Judge may allow parties to email exhibits to the JA.You must contact the JA for permission.
You are responsible to ensure the notice of hearing contains Judge Brewer’s Zoom credentials.
Judge Brewer's Zoom Credentials
Judge Brewer’s available hearing times on JACS run 5, 15, 30, and 60 minutes. Hearings are limited to the time reserved. The scheduling party shall confer with the opposing counsel/party to agree on the total time required for the hearing. If the scheduling party is unable to confer or agree with the opposing counsel/party, the scheduling party should schedule the hearing to give the opposing counsel/party an equal amount of time to present to the Court. If you need more than an hour, contact the JA. Do not set back-to-back hearings to obtain more time.
Five-minute time slots should be used for non-evidentiary motions that are either uncontested or that can be heard within a short time span such as Motions to Withdraw, Motions for Judicial Default, Motions to Dispense with Mediation, and Uncontested Final Hearings.
Once a motion is scheduled, no other motions may be added to the hearing time, cross-noticed for the same hearing time, or substituted in place of a cancelled or withdrawn motion without prior approval of the non-moving party and the Court.
If a hearing is to be cancelled, the cancelling party should immediately:
If JACS will not authorize a cancellation, the party should immediately:
Pursuant to Fla. R. Jud. Admin. 2.505(f)(2), stipulations for substitution of counsel must be signed by the client.
Pursuant to Rule 2.505, Florida Rules of Judicial Administration, motions to withdraw must be set for hearing with notice provided to all parties.
In lieu of a hearing, counsel may submit to the Judge for review and consideration, with copies to opposing parties:
If a party believes there is a factual basis for setting a hardship or emergency hearing a detailed, sworn and verified motion setting forth the following should be filed:
If a party seeks ex parte consideration and relief in an emergency/expedited motion, the motion shall give citation to the statute, rule, or case law that allows a party to seek ex parte relief. The Court will review the motion and determine whether an emergency/expedited hearing is warranted and if ex parte relief is appropriate.
In compliance with a directive from the Chief Justice of Florida, this Circuit is moving to acceptance of proposed orders through the ePortal, not through email. Please see Administrative Order 22-1.2, entered January 14, 2022, for details and specific requirements.
Effective immediately, all proposed orders submitted by attorneys to Judge Brewer must be submitted in compliance with Administrative Order 22-1.2 through the ePortal directly to Judge Brewer, and not filed on the Progress Docket or submitted via email. All proposed orders must be in Word format only. All proposed orders must be accompanied by a cover letter that is also submitted through the ePortal in PDF/A format. The submitting attorney must ensure all parties/attorneys receive a courtesy copy of both the proposed Order and cover letter. Further, any proposed attachment to a proposed order must simultaneously be submitted through the ePortal in PDF/A format.
To be clear:
Judge Brewer expects that you will only submit a proposed order when all attorneys or parties agree on the form. If there is a disagreement on the form, or an attorney does not respond within a reasonable time, you may then send the proposed order with a concise statement identifying the disagreement and the steps you took. The opposing attorney may submit at the same time an alternate proposed order through the ePortal. Please do not include a directive such as “hold this proposed order for x days for an objection to be lodged.” The Court will reject proposed orders seeking to put this burden on the Court or the Court's staff.
The only two exceptions to submitting a proposed Order through the ePortal are, if you are submitting an Income Withholding Order or a Qualified Domestic Relations Order. These specific forms are only available in fillable PDF format and will not be accepted through the ePortal for signature. You may submit the above-mentioned to the Court’s Judicial Assistant.
The Court utilizes several standard orders, which are available for your use and download. Please check this site often as the Court from time to time adds new or modifies existing proposed orders.
Hard copy proposed orders shall only be permitted upon request of the Court. A proposed order/judgment being mailed in must be accompanied with sufficient copies and self-addressed stamped envelopes to send conformed copies to all parties and affected non-parties. If conforming copies and envelopes are not provided, the party submitting the orders must mail a copy of the signed order to all parties.
All agreed/stipulated proposed orders must clearly state “Agreed/Stipulated” in the heading and must indicate the basis of the stipulation/agreement. This can be done by attaching a signed stipulation or copy of an email indicating the agreement, or filing same. An agreement to a proposed order does not guarantee Court approval.
Before mediation is ordered, each party must have filed with the Clerk a financial affidavit and Parenting Course Certificate of Completion, unless not required by statute or rule or waived by the Court. Failure to provide statutorily mandated financial disclosures three (3) business days prior to mediation may result in sanctions and the cancellation of the mediation session.
Parties are required to mediate all contested matters or issues before a motion for temporary relief is heard and prior to trial, except when excused by the Court. See “When Mediation is Not Required.”
Parties must submit an Order of Referral to Mediation, using the approved form available on the Court's General Court Forms & Information page. A motion is not required. Pursuant to Amended Administrative Order 2015.8.2, both parties must have current financial affidavits on file prior to submitting an Order of Referral (to verify that the parties qualify for the Family Mediation Program and for the Family Mediation Program to adequately determine the appropriate fee). The Mediation Program will rely upon the most recent financial affidavits on file. Pursuant to Fla.Fam.L.R.P. 12.285, Mandatory Disclosure, subsection (e)(1) (in part), if a Supplemental Petition has been filed, a new financial affidavit will need to be filed by both parties (no matter how recently their prior financial affidavits were filed under the initial Petition). Additionally, pursuant to subsection (f), parties have a continuing duty to supplement financial affidavits whenever a material change in their financial status occurs.
Orders of Referral are not required, but a report must be filed.
Chapter 63 must be strictly followed. Prior to scheduling a final hearing, the moving party must submit the following documents to the Court:
If all the documentation is complete, the Court will enter an Order Authorizing Final Hearing reflecting the status of the file. Final hearings may only be scheduled after an Order Authorizing Final Hearing has been entered. A copy of the order must be attached to the Notice of Hearing.
Pursuant to Administrative Order 2009-6.12, the judge who entered the Final Judgment in the TPR case must preside over the adoption. When scheduling an adoption in JACS, the adoption case number should appear in the main case number field and the TPR case number should be provided in the “Additional Info” field.
All hearings relating to injunctions for protection must be scheduled through Judge Brewer’s Judicial Assistant. These generally will be set on Thursday morning. If an attorney represents a Petitioner or Respondent and is aware that a lengthier evidentiary hearing will be requested on the hearing date set forth in the Temporary Injunction, that attorney must contact the Judicial Assistant as soon as practicable to permit the Judicial Assistant to set aside sufficient time for the contested evidentiary hearing.
All Motions for Rehearing, Reconsideration, and New Trial are to be submitted directly to the judge’s chambers along with a cover letter that affirmatively and explicitly indicates that copies were provided to parties and affected non-parties. The motion should be detailed and include citations to case law. A hearing packet/binder, as outlined in these Requirements, may be beneficial for the Court’s determination. The judge will review the motion to determine if a hearing is required and, if so, the court will set the hearing.
The Court does not modify injunctions by written stipulation alone. All modifications must be addressed on the digital record at a hearing with the parities present.
The Court encourages the early use of mediation. If parties are not mediating cases early, the Court may ultimately require mediation before substantive hearings are conducted.
If the gross income of the parties meets the statutory program eligibility requirements, the Court may refer the parties to the Family Mediation Program, which provides Florida Supreme Court Family Certified Mediators to help parties resolve open cases. Further information is available on the Family Mediation page. Parties should submit an Order of Referral to Mediation using the approved form on the Court’s website. Both parties must have current financial affidavits on file before submitting the proposed order. If a Supplemental Petition has been filed, Florida Family Law Rule of Procedure 12.285 requires a new financial affidavit, regardless of when the last affidavit was filed. Parties have an on-going duty to supplement their financial affidavits whenever there is a material change to their financial status.
When available, Judge Brewer requires referral to the Family Law Magistrate unless an objection is filed. The scheduling attorney should submit a Family Division Order of Referral to Magistrate and identify the issue or issues referred. No motion is required. The following matters are referred to the Family Law Magistrate: all temporary issues (after completion of mediation); all civil contempt or enforcement issues; discovery-related issues; and motions directed to the pleadings. Judge Brewer generally does not refer these matters to the Family Law Magistrate: cases involving emergency pickup orders following flight or threat of flight with a child from the jurisdiction; domestic violence proceedings including any time-sharing or visitation matters, which arise from the injunction proceeding (the Family Law Magistrate may hear collateral issues of child or spousal support to the extent they do not conflict with provisions of the injunction); petitions to approve termination of pregnancy by a minor; criminal contempt; or emergency matters, unless the Court has determined the issue does not require immediate resolution.
The Court will enter an Order for Transcript giving the party filing the Motion to Vacate a deadline for obtaining a transcript and setting the Motion to Vacate for hearing. Motion to Vacate hearings are non-evidentiary and like an appeal. The hearing may not be set for more than 30 minutes without permission of Judge Brewer.
All Title IV-D proceedings are held before the Honorable Laura M. Hale, Child Support Hearing Officer.
After mediation has been completed, all non- Title IV-D child support proceedings concerning the establishment or modification of child support must be scheduled before the Honorable Matthew K. Peters, South County Family Law Magistrate. A Notice for Trial is not required when child support is the only issue to be resolved.
In all cases involving minor children, a parenting course is required. There are time frames within which parents must compete a DCF-approved Parent Education and Family Stabilization course. Attorneys are responsible for ensuring their clients have completed that court and that the Certificate of Completion is filed with the Clerk before a final hearing. Judge Brewer will not proceed with the final hearing unless that Certificate has been filed.
When a Motion for Relocation is filed, counsel must simultaneously provide the Judicial Assistant as well as a written Notice to set the matter for a hearing on the Petition.
After you file and serve the motion, please send a copy of any motion for rehearing or reconsideration to Judge Brewer’s Judicial Assistant with a cover letter. Please do not set these motions for hearing. The Court will decide whether to hold a hearing.
The Court allows attorneys to file Special Interrogatories in lieu of an uncontested final hearing for a Dissolution of Marriage. Attorneys must use the Court-approved Special Interrogatories form on the Family Law page of the Circuit’s website. Special Interrogatories are not allowed for Simplified Dissolutions. Please remember that section 61.19, Florida Statutes, provides the Court cannot take action on a proposed Final Judgment until after 20 days has elapsed from the date of the filing of the original petition, unless it is shown that injustice would result from the delay.
Before submitting a proposed Final Judgment in lieu of a hearing, the Special Interrogatories must be e-filed and showing as docketed on the Progress Docket. Once the Special Interrogatories are docketed with a DIN, you may then submit, through the ePortal, the proposed Final Judgment in WORD format along with a PDF cover letter which should include the Special Interrogatories and a copy of the Petitioner’s current and valid Driver’s License issued at least 6 months prior to the filing of the divorce proceeding. If the Petitioner’s Driver’s License is newer than 6 months or is expired, please submit an Affidavit of Corroborating Witness as well.
The Court does not set date certain trials. Trials will be set for a trial period. After Docket Sounding, Judge Brewer will assign cases to specific days and assign which cases are back-up cases. The attorneys, parties, and witnesses are expected to be available to entire trial period.
Testimony from children is not permitted unless the Court grants permission after a hearing on a Motion to Allow Child Testimony.The Court will not automatically honor stipulations for a child to testify in court.do not bring children to the courtroom without prior approval.See Rule 12.407, Florida Rules of Family Procedure.
The following matters shall be scheduled before Magistrate Bailey, unless either side files a written objection: All motions directed to the pleadings, discovery, service of process, jurisdiction, and arbitration. These motions may be scheduled through the JACS system. In addition to the traditional matters heard by Magistrate Bailey, the parties may utilize Magistrate Bailey for any other matter to which the parties consent, including injunction hearings and summary judgment motions. Injunctions and summary judgment motions must be specially set by stipulation by contacting Magistrate Bailey’s assistant. If a scheduling party has any question regarding whether a certain motion should be scheduled before the Magistrate, the scheduling party should call or email Magistrate Bailey’s assistant.
The Court reminds that the Twelfth Judicial Circuit has local rules, which specifically include rules relating to discovery.
Based on direction from the Chief Justice of Florida requiring judges to actively manage civil case, the Court will set an Initial Case Management Conference approximately 120 days after the initial filing of the lawsuit. Parties and attorneys potentially may be excused from appearing if Judge Brewer has entered a Case Management Order based on the parties’ agreed-to Case Management Report.
Within 30 days of the last Defendant being served with process, the parties are directed to meet-and-confer and complete the appropriate Case Management Report. The parties shall file the Case Management Report and send Judge Brewer’s Judicial Assistant a copy within 5 days of the parties’ initial meet-and-confer.
If a trial date is not set at the same time as entry of the Case Management Report, the parties shall select one of two options when the case is at issue. The first option: select a case management date from the Court’s website, download and fill out the Case Management Order, and submit it to Judge Brewer like any proposed Order. The second option: if all parties/counsel agree on the trial date, download and fill out the appropriate Stipulation and Order Setting Case for Jury/Nonjury Trial, have all counsel sign it, and submit it to the Court. The Court anticipates that the parties will select the trial date closest to the proposed trial date contained in the Case Management Order, unless the parties show good cause for a different trial date.
For Case Management Conferences called for the purpose of selecting a trial date, the parties/counsel may be excused from appearing provided that no later than three business days before the CMC each of these items has occurred: (1) all parties/counsel agree on the trial date; (2) they download, fill out, and sign the appropriate Stipulation and Order Setting Case for Jury/Nonjury Trial; (3) they submit it to Judge Brewer for review and approval; and (4) Judge Brewer has signed the proposed Order. If that is not completed, the parties/counsel must appear in Court as ordered. The Court anticipates that the parties will select the trial date closest to the proposed trial date contained in the Case Management Order, unless the parties show good cause for a different trial date.
The Order Setting Case for Jury Trial contains a Pretrial Conference date. Personal appearance is required unless the parties submit a completed, joint Pretrial Conference Order to Judge Brewer at least three (3) business days prior to the Pretrial Conference. Unless specifically requested, the Court typically does not conduct Pretrial Conferences in nonjury cases.
All trial counsel and unrepresented parties must appear in person at Docket Sounding. The Order Setting Case for Jury/Nonjury Trial identifies the documents to tender to the Court. After Docket Sounding, the Court will publish a trial lineup.
All motions, including Daubert motions and in limine motions, must be resolved before Docket Sounding. Unless Judge Brewer allows otherwise, any pending motion will be deemed denied if not addressed by Docket Sounding. Please plan accordingly.
All continuance motions must be in writing and signed by the client/party. See Fla. R. Civ. P. 1.460; Fla. R. Jud. Admin. 2.545(e).
If the parties settle after Docket Sounding, not only must the parties immediately notify Judge Brewer’s Judicial Assistant, the parties must also immediately contact the attorneys next in order on the trial lineup (even over the weekend). Please be considerate so that Court time is not lost due to settlements when others are needing that same hearing time.
Please do not set these motions for hearing. Please send these motions to Judge Brewer’s Judicial Assistant with a cover letter. Judge Brewer will determine whether to grant a hearing.