Family Division 3

Requirements and Information

July 28, 2023

Kevin Bruning, Circuit Judge

Laurie Troxell, Judicial Assistant

Twelfth Circuit’s Local Rules & Standards of Professionalism

Attorneys and parties must follow the Twelfth 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 Twelfth Circuit’s Standards of Professionalism (AO 2010-22.2, as amended).

Miscellaneous Requirements

Sending Documents to the Court

Unless otherwise noted in these Requirements, documents should be sent to the Judge’s chambers using one or more of the following methods: Division 3 email (5-page limit); hand-delivery; U.S. Mail; or other standard delivery service.

On-going Duty to Disclose

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.

Bring Calendars to Court

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.

Reserving an Interpreter

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, email, 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.

Inmate Appearances For inmates in Manatee County custody

The scheduling party is responsible for notifying the judicial assistant by email three (3) business days prior to a hearing if an inmate needs to be available by videoconference, telephone or transported from the jail. Failure to notify the judges office may require cancellation of the hearing.

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.

Forms and Resources

On the “Documents” page there are links to Administrative Orders, Court Forms, External Resources, Guardian ad Litem Forms, and Rules & Procedures.

Judicial Assistant Cannot Give Legal Advice

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.

Email Policy

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.

Emails sent to the Family Law Division 1 email shall comply with all rules and requirements governing contact with the Court including ex parte communication.


Motions and Notices of Hearing

Motions must be filed with the Clerk prior to reserving hearing time, unless otherwise allowed by law. A Notice of Hearing must be filed with the Clerk and provided to all parties and affected non-parties within two (2) business days of scheduling a motion hearing on JACS. Failure to file a Notice of Hearing as required herein may result in the hearing being cancelled by the Court without notice.

Zoom credentials

The Notice of Hearing for hearings by Zoom must contain the correct Zoom credentials and specific language which can be found on Judge Bruning’s Zoom Information page. Please see instructions for specific hearing types before scheduling a hearing.

Judicial Automated Calendaring System

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.
Hearing Times (5, 15, 30, 60 mins.)

Judge Bruning’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.

Back-to-back hearing times shall not be blocked in order to acquire a longer block of hearing time for a single motion without prior consent of the Court. Any hearing scheduled in this manner without consent will be cancelled without notice by the Court.

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.

Extended Hearings (Over 60 minutes)

A hearing, including a hearing for Temporary Relief, that requires more than 60 minutes, is considered an Extended Hearing. In order to schedule an Extended Hearing, send an email to Family Division 3, copy opposing counsel/party. The email should contain: the case number, title of the motion, how much time is being requested, and specific details (issues, evidence, witnesses, etc.) explaining why more than 60 minutes are required to hear the motion.

Pre-Hearing Memorandum

In order for the Court to be prepared, for any motions set for 30 minutes or less parties are encouraged to file pre-hearing memorandums. For hearings over 30 minutes, pre-hearing memorandums are mandatory. Parties are encouraged to submit the PHM at least two (2) business days before the hearing. A sample Pre-Hearing Memorandum is available on the Court’s webpage.

Parties may also want to consider submitting a hearing packet/binder as described in the “Courtesy Copies for the Court” section of these Requirements.

Cross-Noticing, Substituting, and Piggybacking Motions

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.

Cancellation of Hearings

A significant number of hearings are cancelled at the last minute. This results in lost opportunities for other parties to have their important matters heard.

If a hearing is to be cancelled, the cancelling party should immediately:

  1. log into JACS and cancel the hearing;
  2. file a Notice of Cancellation with the Clerk of Court; and
  3. send a copy of the Notice to the Court, all parties, and affected non-parties.

If JACS will not authorize a cancellation, the party should immediately:

  1. contact the judicial assistant by telephone and email;
  2. file a Notice of Cancellation with the Clerk; and
  3. send a copy of the Notice to the Court, all parties, and affected non-parties.
The filing of a Notice of Cancellation with the Clerk or via the e-Filing Portal does not cancel the hearing on JACS.


Final Injunction Hearings Requiring More than 30 Minutes

Depending on the Court’s schedule a final injunction hearing that requires more than 30 minutes may be rescheduled to an afternoon hearing time. To avoid waiting and possibly having to appear multiple times, an attorney representing a party in an injunction case should contact the Judicial Assistant before the hearing date to ask about rescheduling.

Hearings to Dissolve, Modify, or Extend Injunctions

Hearings on motions related to injunctions are scheduled through the Judge’s judicial assistant, not on JACS. Any hearing related to an injunction that is scheduled on JACS will be cancelled by the Court. Parties may contact the judicial assistant via email to obtain available hearing times.

Notice of Appearance Required

Attorneys are required to file a Notice of Appearance or Limited Notice of Appearance if they intend to represent a party in an injunction case.


Courtesy Copies for the Court

Courtesy copies must be received by the Court at least three (3) business days prior to the hearing. Please mail, hand deliver, or another delivery service.

Hearing Packets and Binders

Hearing packets/binders for evidentiary hearings. When parties submit hearing packets or binders, they should not be filed with the Clerk of Court. Rather, they should be sent directly to the Judge’s chambers via hand-delivery, U.S. mail, or other standard delivery service.

In order to make the best use of the Court’s limited hearing time and allow the Judge to adequately prepare, a hearing packet or binder could include the following items:

  • a copy of the Notice of Hearing;
  • a copy of the Motion to be heard;
  • legible copies of exhibits and documents expected to be identified or introduced;
  • a memorandum of law with facts and law supporting the party’s positions;
  • a proposed Order on the Motion, if possible; and
  • copies of case law with the relevant portions highlighted or otherwise marked.

Pursuant to F.S. 61.13001(10), an evidentiary hearing or nonjury trial on a pleading seeking temporary or permanent relief filed under F.S. 61.13001 shall be accorded priority on the court’s calendar.


When a Motion for Temporary Relocation is filed with the Clerk, a copy of the Motion for Temporary Relocation must simultaneously be sent to the Court, other parties, and any affected non- parties. Counsel must also provide the Court with a notice to set the matter for nonjury trial.

Withdrawal of Counsel

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:

  • a stipulation to withdraw signed by the attorney and the client, and
  • a proposed order that includes the client’s current or last known physical address, mailing address, and e-mail address, if available
Motions to Compel

Attorneys and parties shall adhere to Rule 5 of the Twelfth Circuit’s Local Rules.

Emergency/Expedited Motions

Parties represented by counsel shall attempt in good faith to resolve or mediate emergency/expedited matters and submit stipulations, if at all possible.

Motions seeking Emergency/Expedited consideration must be filed with the Clerk and served on the opposing party and any affected non-party. A copy of the motion requesting emergency/expedited hearing time should also be sent directly to the Court. If a party or affected non-party is not noticed, the motion must clearly and specifically explain why, including efforts made to locate and notice the party or affected non-party. The motion shall be detailed, including the specific relief sought and the amount of hearing time requested.

Ex parte relief

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.

The “Emergency Filing” radio button on Florida’s E-Filing Portal does not cause the filing to be treated as an Emergency for e-filing purposes, and parties should send a copy of the “emergency” filing directly to the Court for consideration.
Motions for Rehearing, Reconsideration, and New Trial

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 notify you that you may set a hearing.

Discovery Motions: General Information

All discovery related issues such as compel, contempt re: discovery order, extend time, protective order, objection to interrogatories, objection to production, quash, sanctions re: discovery matters, and any additional discovery-related motion not listed; as well as motions directed to the pleadings, such as amend, strike, default, dismiss, intervene, set aside, etc. shall be scheduled before General Magistrate Paul Hudson. Discovery issues shall be in compliance with Local Rule 5. The scheduling attorney shall submit an Order of Referral to General Magistrate, pursuant to Fla.Fam.L.R.P.

Special Interrogatories

General Information

The Court accepts Special Interrogatories except in matters where sole parental responsibility is awarded. Special Interrogatory forms and instructions can be found on the Divisions webpage.

Required Documents

A Special Interrogatories checklist must be completed and sent to the Judge’s chambers with the following documents[1]:

  • Cover letter explaining case status and agreement of opposing counsel/party;
  • Fully executed Special Interrogatories;
  • Legible copy of the driver's license or affidavit of residency for the party signing the interrogatories proving that the party was a Florida resident for at least six months prior to filing date;
  • Proposed Final Judgment with sufficient copies and postage pre-paid envelopes for the Court to send conformed copies. If copies and envelopes are not provided, the original will be scanned and emailed back to the parties;
  • Fully executed Marital Settlement Agreement (MSA);
  • Original and any supplemental pleadings, including Petitions, Answers, Counter- Petitions, and Waivers;
  • Financial affidavits, waiver of mandatory disclosure clause in MSA, or separate waivers. The cover letter must indicate which of these is applicable in the case. If the waiver is in the MSA, the cover letter should indicate the page and paragraph where the waiver can be found; and
  • If minor children are involved: a fully executed Parenting Plan that, at a minimum, complies with F.S. 61.13(2)(b); Parenting class Certificates of Completion for both parties; and UCCJEA.

1. In lieu of sending copies of a listed document, the filing date of the document can be indicated on the checklist so as to allow the Court to quickly search the court file and review the document. If you choose this option, you need only send to the Court copies of; the cover letter; the Special Interrogatories; the Special Interrogatories checklist; a proposed Final Judgment; and a legible copy of the driver's license or identification card. Copies of drivers’ licenses and identification cards will be destroyed.

Paperwork Must be Complete and Correct

Counsel and parties are responsible for ensuring that Special Interrogatories are complete, correct, and accurate. If the Special Interrogatories are incomplete, incorrect, or inaccurate, are missing paperwork or supporting documentation, or contain other defects, the entire Special Interrogatories packet will be returned to the submitting party, and the parties will be required to schedule a Final Hearing before the Court. A Final Judgment may be entered without a hearing if all required paperwork and documents are complete and correct.

Telephonic Appearance/Video Conference

General Information

All hearings must be scheduled for in person hearings unless approved by court order. A motion must be filed to get special permission to appear via zoom.

Zoom credentials

The Notice of Hearing for hearings by Zoom must contain the correct Zoom credentials and specific language which can be found on Judge Bruning's Zoom Information page. Please see instructions for specific hearing types before scheduling a hearing.

Pursuant to the latest Florida Supreme Court Administrative Order, All other hearings will be conducted using the Zoom platform. Judge Bruning “hosts” the video/telephone conferences so there is no need to set up your own. Please visit the Public Court Hearings page for Zoom log on credentials and procedures, including requirements for noticing a Zoom hearing, Zoom etiquette.

The Remote Courtroom is still a public Courtroom. Unless you are unable, the Court expects that you attend the Remote hearing with your camera on and that you conduct yourself professionally.

Telephonic Appearance By Parties and Witnesses

Consistent with Rule 2.530(d), Florida Rules of Judicial Administration, the Court may consider testimony by telephone with prior notice and approval by the Court. A notary or other official authorized to administer oaths in the witness’s jurisdiction must be present with the individual providing testimony to the Court and must administer an oath consistent with the laws of the jurisdiction. The Court will require the notary or other official to identify themselves and provide sufficient information to allow the Court to verify that the notary or other official is authorized to administer the oath.

Conference Calls

The Court does not have the ability to make or receive more than one call at a time. Therefore, if more than one person will be appearing telephonically, arrangements must be made for a conference call. If the parties cannot agree on who will initiate the conference call, the party first requesting to appear by telephone will be responsible for initiating the conference call. The judicial assistant should be contacted after all parties are on the line and ready for the hearing.

Conduct of Trials, Hearings

Notice that Case is At Issue

Once the case is At Issue, either party may file a “Notice That Case is At Issue and Ready for Trial” with the Clerk and send a copy directly to the judge’s office.

The Notice shall indicate:

  • the issue(s) to be tried, including relevant pleadings;
  • a realistic estimate as to how much time is required for trial; and
  • whether the parties object to the trial being heard by the Magistrate.

CMC, PTC, and Trial Scheduling

Upon receipt of a Notice That Case is At Issue, the Court will send out an order setting a Case Management Conference. Case Management Conferences will take place on Tuesdays at 9:00 a.m. Trials will be scheduled for a trial week on the Courts Trial Docket. A mandatory Pretrial Conference will be scheduled on a Tuesday 10:00 a.m. the week prior to trial.

No case shall be set for a final hearing/trial without going through this process, except when a Marital Settlement Agreement has been agreed to by both parties, is fully executed, and is being presented to the Court for ratification.

Back up Trials

At the Court’s discretion, cases may be set as a back up to any other, scheduled trial. Back up cases should be ready to go on short notice, and other pre-trial requirements (i.e., Pretrial Statement) will apply to back up trials.

In order to be placed on the docket as a backup trial, parties must select a backup trial date at the Case Management Conference or in the Joint Stipulation for Trial Date. If the parties’ case is not reached as the backup trial, the parties should be prepared to go forward with trial during their stipulated or assigned trial period.

Case Management Conferences

Appearance by counsel and unrepresented parties at Case Management Conferences is mandatory. Otherwise, parties may confer and stipulate to a trial period, if desired, by submitting a Joint Stipulation for Trial Period (available on the Court’s webpage) at least three (3) business days before the Case Management Conference. Available trial dates can be found on the can be found on the Divisions webpage.

Pretrial Conference

Appearance at Pretrial Conference is mandatory for at least one attorney of record and for unrepresented parties. If an attorney of record is unable to attend the mandatory Pretrial Conference, the coverage attorney must be sufficiently familiar with the case to answer the Court’s questions and shall have the authority to enter into binding stipulations and agreements.

Pretrial Statement

At the Pretrial Conference, the parties shall submit a Joint Pretrial Statement to the Court. Several variations of a Pretrial Statement can be found on the Divisions webpage.

If the parties are unable to complete a Joint Pretrial Statement, each party shall submit their own Pretrial Statement to the Court at the Pretrial Conference.

Every Pretrial Statement shall have attached an updated, fully executed Financial Affidavit for each party (or for the submitting party), a child support guideline worksheet, where applicable, and an Equitable Distribution Matrix showing the proposed distribution of assets and liabilities to each party. Documents are available on the Divisions webpage or on the Florida Courts website.

Marking Exhibits and Evidence

Since a Clerk will not usually be present in court for hearings and trials, exhibits and evidence should be pre-marked BEFORE the hearing or trial begins.

So that evidence is filed in the correct case, exhibit labels should have the following information legibly printed on them:

  • the designation of the party moving the item into evidence as reflected on the initial pleading in the case (i.e., P=Petitioner, R=Respondent, H=Husband, W=Wife, F=Father, M=Mother, etc.);
  • a numbering and lettering system that clearly identifies each, individual exhibit or piece of evidence from another (i.e., 1, 2a, 2b, Composite 3, etc.);
  • the date the exhibit is entered into evidence, if known ahead of time; and
  • the case number (i.e., 22DR2222).
Testimony via Deposition or Written Document

Attorneys shall confer and identify all deposition questions and answers or written documents to be read or shown to the Court. Attorneys shall make every reasonable effort to resolve all objections prior to the trial or hearing. If objections cannot be resolved, hearing time should be scheduled and rulings obtained PRIOR to the trial or hearing, if at all possible.

Written Closing

Upon agreement of the parties or order of the Court, counsel may submit written closing arguments or summations for the Court’s consideration at the conclusion of trials or hearings involving temporary relief or final judgment. Written closings/summations should include required statutory factors and factual findings, citations to the record, case law, and each desired ruling from the Court with legal and factual support.

Child Testimony

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.

Child Support

A Notice for Trial is not required when the only issue to be resolved is the establishment or modification of child support. The hearing should be scheduled with Magistrate Laura Hale, sitting as a Child Support Hearing Officer, in accordance with their requirements.


When a case settles, the parties shall immediately provide written notice to the Judicial Assistant.


The Court strictly adheres to Fla.R.Fam.L.P. 12.460, Fla.R.Civ.P. 1.460, and Fla.R.Jud.Admin. 2.545(e). Continuance will be granted only upon a showing of good cause. All motions and stipulations for continuance shall be in writing unless made at trial and, except for good cause shown, shall be writing unless made at trial and, except for good cause shown, shall be signed by the party requesting or stipulating to the continuance. Trials are not automatically continued by the submission of a stipulation. The judge will determine if a hearing is required. If a continuance is granted, the case will be scheduled on the next available Case Management Conference for the selection of a new trial date, unless a new trial date is agreed to by the parties and approved by the Court. See “Conduct of Trial and Hearings”.

Agreed Orders/Judgments and Proposed Orders/Judgments

Proposed Orders

Please do not submit a proposed order until all parties have reviewed and approved the proposed order. The Court does not allow litigation by letter or email. If the parties cannot agree on an issue, the appropriate motion should be filed and set for hearing. The Court encourages all proposed orders (and relevant documents) be sent electronically to the ePortal system. Final Judgments of Dissolution send in Word format to Family Division 3. All parties must be cc’d for the document to be reviewed. The subject line should contain the case number, name and relevant matter: 2022 DR 001234 SC – Doe v. Doe – Final Judgment.

Do not:
  • include any unnecessary headers or footers (e.g., firm names) within the proposed Order.
  • submit consolidate forms. All Stipulations (once e-filed) shall be submitted with the proposed order as its own document.
  • email a directive such as “hold this proposed order for x days for an objection to be lodged”. If the paperwork has not been reviewed by all parties, it should not be sent to the Court.
  • use the email and send identical paperwork via U.S. Mail If an order is submitted electronically, the Judicial Assistant will serve the Order on the parties via email.
Please make sure the certificate of service is completed and includes all email addresses the order should be sent to. If additional U.S. mail copies need to be served, please modify the certificate of service accordingly for the movant to complete such actions.
Agreed to Disagreement (Form)

The Court expects that you will only submit a proposed order when all attorneys or parties agree on the form. If the agreement is not evident in the Motion and proposed Order, the party must submit documentation. If there is a disagreement on the form, or an attorney does not respond within a reasonable period of 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. Please do not email a directive such as “hold this proposed order for x days for an objection to be lodged.” Not Agreed To/ Objections If a motion is not agreed to or is objected to, then a hearing must be set. Please do not send packets to the Court in these situations until a hearing is set.

Proposed Orders — Through the Portal

Effective May 2, 2022, unless good cause is shown, proposed orders are required to be submitted electronically through the statewide Portal whenever feasible. See AO: 2022-1.2

Requirements for Submitting Proposed Orders Through the Portal

Please read carefully so that your order is not rejected. Please include email addresses on the certificate of service.

Proposed Orders submitted through the “Proposed Documents” feature of the Portal are electronically transmitted to Judge Bruning. Proposed orders submitted to the judge or magistrate will not be filed in the court file. The proposed order must be submitted electronically through the Portal in Word (.docx) format. If not submitted in Word format, it will be rejected.

Proposed orders should conclude with the following language: “done and ordered in Chambers, Sarasota County, Florida.” Do not include a date; the date is included with the judge’s electronic signature. Please leave adequate room in the document for the judge’s electronic signature. Cover letters must be submitted through the Portal in PDF/A format. All proposed orders submitted through the Portal to judges and magistrates in Sarasota County require a cover letter. If a cover letter is not included, it will be rejected. Any ancillary documents related to the proposed order (copy of the motion, case law, legal memorandums, etc.) may be attached to the cover letter in PDF/A format.

Motions and proposed orders must be submitted through the Portal as separate documents. Combined motion/proposed orders in the same document are not permitted. Parties shall only submit a proposed order when all parties agree to the form. If there is a disagreement on the form, or an attorney does not respond within a reasonable period of time, you may then file the proposed order through the Portal with a cover letter concisely stating the disagreement or steps you took to confer with the opposing attorney. The opposing attorney may submit a competing order, also indicating in the cover letter that the attorneys are not in agreement.

Exceptions: the following should be sent to Family Division 3

  • Quadro
  • IRA Transfer
  • WIO/IWO.
  • Final Judgments should be sent in word format

Pro se litigants are encouraged, but not required, to submit proposed orders through the Portal. Pro se litigants are required to provide an email address pursuant to Rule 2.516, Florida Rule of General Practice and Judicial Administration, to receive signed orders electronically. Pro se litigants or attorneys whom have shown good cause, may submit proposed orders electronically in Word format only to Family Division 3. Please do not use this email for any other purpose and please do not copy the judicial assistant on the email.


General Information

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.

When Mediation is Required

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.”

When Mediation is Not Required

Uncontested causes of action (i.e., name change, uncontested dissolution, when respondent has been defaulted, etc.).

  • When the Court waives mediation, upon verified motion and hearing, because of a hardship, emergency, or history of domestic violence between the parties that would compromise the mediation process.
  • Issues referred to the Magistrate for which the Magistrate does not require mediation.

Family Mediation Program

Parties may submit an Order of Referral to Mediation. A motion is not required. Pursuant to Administrative Order 2015-8.2 and in order to verify that the parties qualify for the Family Mediation Program and for the Family Mediation Program to determine the appropriate fee, both parties must have current financial affidavits on file prior to submitting an Order of Referral.

Private Mediation

Orders of Referral are not required, but a report must be filed.

Twelfth Judicial Circuit Family Mediation Program

If the gross income of the parties meets 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. Visit the Family Mediation Program page for detailed information about the program. Parties do not need to submit a motion for referral, but must submit an Order of Referral to Mediation using the approved form available on the Circuit’s web site. Pursuant to Administrative Order 2015-8.2, both parties must have current financial affidavits on file before submitting an Order of Referral to Mediation so that the Court can verify the parties qualify for the Family Mediation Program and to determine the appropriate fee. Pursuant to Fla.Fam.L.R.P. 12.285, Mandatory Disclosure, subsection (e)(1) (in part), if a Supplemental Petition has been filed, both parties must file new Financial Affidavits, regardless of how recently Financial Affidavits were last filed. Pursuant to subsection (f), both parties have an on-going duty to supplement their Financial Affidavits whenever there is a material change to their financial status.

Parenting Classes

General Information

In a Dissolution of Marriage With Minor Children or a Paternity action, parties are required by F.S. 61.21 to complete an approved Parent Education and Family Stabilization Course and file a Certificate of Completion with the Clerk prior to the entry of a final judgment.

Orders to attend a parenting course will not be entered by the Court. Florida law and local rules mandate the times within which parents must complete an approved Parent Education and Family Stabilization Course. It is the responsibility of counsel to ensure a client has completed this course and a Certificate of Completion is filed with the Clerk.


At the time of the Final Hearing, if a party has not filed a Certificate of Completion, the non-compliant party may be limited to supervised time-sharing until they comply.

If both parties have not complied, the Final Hearing may be cancelled.
Correspondence or Internet Course

If a party wishes to take an online parenting course, a written request to the judge must be submitted and an order approving the online parenting court must be entered before the online parenting course is taken.

An approved course through correspondence or the internet may be used only if a party resides out of state or in a country where a course is not offered or upon good cause shown by verified motion.

Adoptions and Termination of Parental Rights

Final Hearings

A written request for final hearing and copies of all pertinent materials required under Chapter 63, Florida Statutes, shall be sent to the Judge’s chambers, along with an appropriate, complete, signed, court-approved checklist (TPR or Adoption). The Court will review the submission and if complete, will send an Order Authorizing Final Hearing. The checklists are available on the Divisions page.

If Authorize

A copy of the order authorizing must be attached to the Notice of Hearing and provided to the Court prior to the hearing. The adoption hearing must be scheduled before the same judge that entered the Final Judgment in the TPR case. The hearing must be scheduled on JACS using the adoption case number. The TPR case number should be entered in the “Additional Info” field.

Magistrate & Child Support Hearing Officer

Magistrate Paul Hudson

Issues to be Referred to Magistrate Hudson

Unless an objection to the Magistrate is on file, the following issues must be referred to the Magistrate. The scheduling attorney shall submit a Family Division “Order of Referral to Magistrate” setting forth the issue(s) to be referred. A motion is not required. Visit Magistrate Hudson’s Biography page for requirements.

  • All temporary issues, except hardship or emergency motions that the Court has agreed to allow the Magistrate to hear on an expedited basis.
  • Motions directed to the pleadings (Motions to Dismiss, Amend, Strike, Default, Set Aside, etc.)
  • All civil contempt/enforcement issues related to temporary issues. Any motion for civil contempt/enforcement must provide specific, detailed, factual allegations for each alleged violation, including dates, and must refer to the specific language in the order or judgment that has allegedly been violated.
  • Trial-related motions for trials set or to be set before the Magistrate.
  • Discovery-related issues (objections, compel, protective orders, etc.).
Twelfth Judicial Circuit Local Rules 5a and 5b regarding Discovery Matters are strictly enforced. Any discovery motions not in full compliance with these rules will not be heard.
Issues Not to be Referred to Magistrate Hudson
  • Requests for emergency pickup orders following flight or threat of flight with a child from the jurisdiction of the Court
  • Emergency matters unless the Judge has determined that the issue(s) involved do not require immediate resolution before the exception period would expire
  • Petitions to Approve the Termination of a Pregnancy by a Minor
  • Motions to Vacate Final Judgment
  • Motions to Modify or Dissolve domestic violence injunctions
  • Trial-related motions for trials set or to be set before the Circuit Court Judge
Exceptions to Report and Recommended Order of Magistrate

A party filing Exceptions to the Magistrate’s Report and Recommended Order shall:

  • File the original Exceptions with the Clerk and
  • Send a copy of the Exceptions directly to the Court and the Magistrate.

Upon receipt of the Exceptions, the Court will enter an Order for Transcript that sets deadlines to submit a transcript and schedule a hearing. If the transcript is not filed within the time limit established by the Order for Transcript or such other date set by the Court upon motion and order, the Exceptions will be denied. Exception hearings are non-evidentiary and similar to an appeal. The hearing must be scheduled on JACS for no more than 30 minutes (15 minutes per side). If a pro se litigant files Exceptions, an opposing attorney is not permitted to schedule an Exceptions hearing for the pro se litigant.

Child Support Enforcement Hearing Officer Laura Hale

General Information

For purposes of child support, Rule 12.491, Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure, permits the appointment of a Support Enforcement Hearing Officer in proceedings for the establishment, enforcement, or modification of child support. Administrative Orders 89-08-12 and 99-19-12 establish that the use of the Support Enforcement Hearing Officer is appropriate in both Title IV- D and Non-Title IV-D cases. Use of the hearing officer is mandatory and does not require the consent of the parties. Orders of Referral are not required for hearings related to child support issues.

Title IV-D Child Support

Title IV-D child support issues shall be scheduled before the Honorable Laura Hale, Child Support Enforcement Hearing Officer.

Non-Title IV-D Child Support

After mediation has been completed, all nonTitle IV-D child support proceedings concerning the establishment or modification of child support must be scheduled Child Support Hearing Officer. A Notice for Trial is not required when child support is the only issue to be resolved.

Child Support Hearing Officer (No Orders of Referral)

Orders of Referral are not required for hearings relating to child support issues. Use of a Child Support Hearing Officer does not require consent. (See Heilman v. Heilman, 596 So. 2d 1046 (Fla. 1992).)

Motions to Vacate (Child Support)

Pursuant to Family Law Rule 12.491(f), any party affected by an order may move to vacate an order by filing a motion to vacate within ten (10) days from the date of entry of the order. The motion must be filed in the Clerk’s Office, and a copy of the motion must simultaneously be sent to the assigned Circuit Judge and to the Hearing Officer.


General Information

Once the case is at issue, a Notice That Case Is At Issue and Ready for Trial is filed with the Clerk. A copy of the Notice shall be forwarded to the Judge’s office. The Notice shall indicate the issue(s) to be tried, such as dissolution of marriage, modification of time-sharing, etc., how much time is required for the trial and whether requesting a magistrate or judge for the trial. The Court will then send out an Order Scheduling Case Management Conference. Trials will be scheduled on a one week trial docket, with a scheduling conference the week prior to the trial week.

In no case (except where a Marital Settlement Agreement has been fully executed) shall a party schedule a final hearing/trial, no matter how short, without a Notice That Case Is At Issue and Ready for Trial.

Trial weeks

Trials will be scheduled on a one-week trial docket, with a scheduling conference a week before the trial week.

Pre-Trial Memorandum

In all cases, parties shall confer at least ten (10) days prior to trial and complete a Joint Pre-Trial Memorandum. If the parties are unable to complete a Joint Pre-Trial Memorandum, they shall certify they have attempted and failed. Upon certifying failure to complete a Joint Pre-Trial Memorandum, each party shall complete his or her own Pre-Trial Memorandum. The Pre-Trial Memorandum shall have attached a fully executed Financial Affidavit for each party, a child support guideline worksheet where applicable and an Equitable Distribution Matrix. Documents are available at either or


Trials are not continued by stipulation until a motion or stipulation stating the need for the continuance are received by the Court, the Court has reviewed same and the Judicial Assistant has notified the parties after the Court has made a determination.

Pursuant to Rule 1.440(b) a “notice for trial” announces that the action is at issue and “ready to be set for trial.” Continuances to complete discovery or for other reasons that suggest that the action is not ready for trial at the time the “notice of trial” was filed and served will be strongly disfavored and may result in it not being placed on a trial docket.

Pursuant to Rule 2.545(e), Florida Judicial Administration Rules, and Rule 1.460 of the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure, motions for continuance shall be in writing and must be signed by the party, not just their counsel. The Court must approve stipulations to continue a trial, once the cause has been set on the trial docket.


Mediation is required prior to trial. Should a party desire NOT to participate in mediation, a motion will need to be filed and a hearing held.


The judge’s office shall be contacted immediately once a settlement has been reached.

Final Judgments

No Final Judgment after trial shall be submitted unless specifically requested by the Court. When requested, proposed Final Judgments shall be submitted in Word format.

Contact Information