Manatee County Child Support Hearings

Requirements and Information

Last updated: February 1, 2024

Laura Hale, Hearing Officer

Beth Ozimek, Assistant

Requirements & Information

Pro se (self-represented) individuals that need more information about Child Support Enforcement and other child support-related services may contact:

Scheduling Hearings

The following requirements are strictly enforced for scheduling hearings.

  • All hearings in front of Hearing Officer Laura Hale are in person unless prior approval to appear by Telephone/Zoom is obtained from the Court.
  • Pro se litigants requesting hearings on self-filed motions must submit a Form C along with the motion/petition to the Manatee County Clerk of the Circuit Court, Civil/Family Division. Hearings will not be scheduled without a Form C and proof of service completed that notice was provided to all parties involved in your case on the Pro-Se Motion filed. (Please complete the certificate of service in its entirety). Download the Form C. The Form C is also available at the Clerk’s Office.
  • Attorneys must schedule on the Judicial Automated Calendaring System (JACS). Cases not appearing on the JACS docket will not be heard.
  • Attorneys scheduling hearings before the Child Support Hearing Officer/Magistrate are required to choose a minimum of 30 minutes when scheduling in JACS.
  • Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays are reserved for the exclusive use of the DOR Child Support Program Attorney and Office. Any other hearings scheduled on these days will be CANCELLED.
  • Attorneys representing a party in IV-D Child Support proceedings must clear time with the Child Support Program/Department of Revenue attorney prior to scheduling on JACS.
  • Important  For all hearings involving the Department of Revenue, the notice of hearing/trial must be served on all parties. This includes: DOR, the individual Petitioner (or counsel) and the individual Respondent (or counsel). Failure to include all parties in the notice could result in the cancellation of the hearing/trial.
  • Attorneys requiring hearings of 60 minutes or less may schedule the matter on JACS on the available private attorney hearing days which currently are certain Mondays and Friday mornings (Note: Attorneys may use two consecutive 30-minute slots if available).
  • Attorneys requiring more than 60 minutes of hearing time must call the Hearing Officer’s Assistant. Hearings scheduled on JACS for more than 60 minutes without prior approval will be cancelled. Attorneys needing to cancel a previously set hearing involving the Department of Revenue/Child Support Program, if less than three (3) calendar days before the hearing, must notify the Hearing Officer’s Assistant and the Department of Revenue by telephone. The filing of the Notice of Cancellation less than three days prior to the hearing does not cancel the hearing in JACS. A copy of the Notice of Cancellation must be sent to the office of the Hearing Officer by email or fax.
Failure to adhere to the above requirements will result in the cancellation of your hearing without notice.

Telephonic/Zoom Appearance Policy

Hearing Officer Hale utilizes Zoom for any appearances that require the party to appear via audio/video communication equipment. Visit Hearing Officer Hale's Zoom page for video conference access information. No requests to appear by telephone/Zoom will be considered on the day of the hearing. All telephonic/Zoom appearances must be approved by the Court at least 5 days prior to the hearing.

  • Requests to appear by telephone/Zoom are governed by Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure 12.451 and Florida Rules of Judicial Administration 2.530.
  • Telephone/Zoom appearances may be permitted either by agreement of the parties or for good cause shown via a written request and upon reasonable notice to all other parties.
  • A motion and proposed order, with contact information for both parties or sufficient copies and envelopes for conforming, should be submitted as soon as the need for a telephonic/Zoom appearance arises, but no less than 5 days prior to the date of the hearing.
  • Please submit a stipulation from opposing counsel along with the motion or otherwise represent to the Court that it is an unopposed motion for telephonic/Zoom appearance.
  • The party testifying by phone/Zoom shall call (941) 749–3646 to obtain the Zoom sign-on information. The party shall then sign onto Zoom (audio only or with video) at the time of the hearing. For audio only: The party testifying may, at his or her sole expense, arrange to be in the presence of a notary public to conduct the oath and swear in the party testifying prior to his testimony. In the alternative, the party testifying may choose to be sworn in by the Hearing Officer. If party testifying is not located in the State of Florida and chooses to be sworn in by the Hearing Officer, party testifying consents to be bound by an oath administered under the general laws of the State of Florida.
  • The party appearing by telephone/Zoom should sign on to Zoom at the time of the hearing. The party appearing by telephone/Zoom must be available for at least two (2) hours from the appointed time, and at a location that minimizes any background noise. If the party does not appear on ZOOM as scheduled, the hearing will not be continued and the hearing will proceed in the absence of that party.
  • The court reserves the right to terminate a telephonic/ZOOM appearance of any party at any time, should that party use inappropriate language or otherwise disrupt the proceedings.

Submitting Orders

The attorney charged with preparing the proposed order should prepare it promptly and provide it to opposing counsel for review prior to submission to the Court. Attorneys shall not submit orders to the court with a copy to the opposing attorney for “objections within ‘X’ days.” Instead, the submitting attorney shall inform the Court that the proposed order is either agreed-upon, opposed, or that the submitting attorney has provided the order to opposing counsel (or pro se party) on a certain date, but no response from opposing counsel (or pro se party) has been received. See Twelfth Judicial Circuit Standards of Professionalism, paragraph F.5.

Submitting Orders & Documents via Email

Orders and documents must be submitted to the Child Support Hearing Officer - Manatee County email account.

The sole purpose of the Child Support Hearing Officer - Manatee County email account is for the submission of documents under these requirements, or for the submission of proposed orders, findings, and/or report and recommendations. This account is not to be used to communicate with the Magistrate’s office in any way. Any emails sent for communication purposes to this email address will not be read, considered, or filed.

  • All proposed orders, findings, and/or report and recommendations must be submitted as an email attachment in a format compatible with Microsoft Word (.doc or .docx format) – do not send in PDF format.
  • All documents submitted by email shall be copied to opposing counsel or pro se party, and there shall be an indication in the email that copies have been so provided.

Contact Information