Laura Hale

Circuit Court Magistrate/Hearing Officer

Contact Information

Magistrate Laura Hale

Judicial Service

  • Appointed as Hearing Officer, June 19, 2008


  • JD, Ave Maria Law School, 2003
  • MS, Franciscan University of Steubenville, 2000
  • BS, Florida State University, 1990
Hearing Officer’s Assistant
Beth Ozimek
Email Beth at; Prior to calling or faxing the Hearing Officer's Assistant, all parties must first read the judicial requirements.
(941) 749–3646
(941) 749-3688
Manatee County Judicial Center
Physical Address
1051 Manatee Ave. W., Bradenton, FL 34205
Mailing Address
P.O. Box 3000, Bradenton, FL 34206
Office Hours
8:30 am-5 pm; closed for lunch Noon-1 pm
Proceedings are held in Hearing Room 3, 3rd Floor
Notice to the public: The Code of Judicial Conduct governing behavior by judges forbids the Judges of the Twelfth Judicial Circuit to discuss pending cases with the public. Please do not call or email the Court expecting to speak with a Judge about any case. The Court is only allowed to consider arguments made in the courtroom and in documents properly filed by actual parties in the case as authorized by law and the Rules of Court. The Court cannot ethically read or consider any other opinions or arguments about the case. Communications that do not meet these legal requirements cannot be forwarded to the Judges.

Requirements & Information

Standards of Professionalism

Hearing Officer/Magistrate Laura Hale expects all attorneys who appear to know and adhere to the Twelfth Judicial Circuit’s Standards of Professionalism, also available on the websites of the Manatee County Bar Association and the Sarasota County Bar Association.

A. Remote Appearance

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 access information. No requests to appear by Zoom will be considered on the day of the hearing. All Zoom appearances must be approved by the Court at least 5 days prior to the hearing.

Hearing Officer Hale’s Zoom Credentials

Meeting ID
991 6260 6109
Audio Only
(646) 558-8656
  • Requests to appear by audio/video communication equipment are governed by Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure 12.451 and Florida Rules of Judicial Administration 2.530.
  • Audio/video 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 Zoom appearance arises, but no less than 5 days prior to the date of the hearing.
  • If all parties stipulate to a Zoom appearance, parties shall submit a stipulation along with the motion or otherwise represent to the Court via email to the Hearing Officer’s Assistant informing the Court that it is an unopposed motion for Zoom appearance.
  • Parties appearing by Zoom may call the Hearing Officer’s office at (941) 749‑3646 to obtain Zoom sign-on information/assistance.
  • 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.
  • Rules Re: Zoom Appearances: The party appearing by Zoom should sign on at least ten (10) minutes prior to the scheduled hearing time and MUST be:
    • Available for the entire period reserved for the hearing and one (1) additional hour,
    • In a location conducive to participation in a hearing/trial for the time reserved, AND
    • At a location that minimizes any background noise.
  • Parties/counsel are strictly prohibited from appearing remotely from a moving vehicle.
  • 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 an audio/video Zoom appearance of any party at any time, should that party use inappropriate language or otherwise disrupt the proceedings. Any such appearances are subject to termination of the Zoom appearance or a delay of the proceeding.

B. Hearing Procedures

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, or failure to adhere to any of the following requirements, could result in the cancellation of the hearing/trial.
  • All hearings in front of Hearing Officer Laura Hale are in person at the Manatee County Judicial Center unless prior approval to appear by Zoom audio/video is obtained from the Court as specified in Section A. Remote Appearance.
  • Attorneys must schedule on the JACS. Cases not appearing on the JACS docket will not be heard.
  • 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.
  • Private attorney days are certain Mondays (am & pm) and Fridays (am only). Attorneys scheduling hearings before the Child Support Hearing Officer/Magistrate are required to choose a minimum of 30 minutes when scheduling in JACS.
  • Attorneys representing a party in Department of Revenue/IV-D Child Support proceedings must clear time with the Child Support Program/DOR attorney prior to scheduling on JACS.
  • Hearings 60 minutes or Less: Attorneys requiring hearings of 60 minutes or less may schedule the matter on JACS on the available private attorney hearing days (Note: Attorneys may use two consecutive 30-minute slots if available).
  • Hearings Longer than 60 Minutes: 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.
  • 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). The Form C is also available at the Clerk’s Office.
  • Cancellation of Hearings: 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.

Download the Form C.

C. Communications with the Court

Office Hours
8:30 am-5 pm; closed for lunch Noon-1 pm
Hearing Room 3, 3rd Floor
Mailing Address
P.O. Box 3000, Bradenton, FL 34206
Physical Address
1051 Manatee Ave. W., Bradenton, FL 34205
(941) 749‑3346
(941) 749-3688

To communicate with the Hearing Officer’s Assistant, email Beth Ozimek. To solely submit orders, pleadings, and other documents email the Manatee County Child Support Hearing Officer Division email:

The Division email address is for submission of orders, pleadings, Guidelines, and other documents only. The Division email shall not be used for party communications – emails sent to the Division email for this purpose will not be considered.

Communications sent to the Child Support Hearing Officer shall comply with all rules and requirements governing contact with the Court including ex parte communication.

D. Submission of 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.

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

The sole purpose of the Manatee County Child Support Hearing Officer 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.

E. Courtesy Copies

If submitting courtesy copies to the Court, counsel shall provide copies of any documents via email, regular mail, overnight services, or hand-delivery at least three (3) days prior to the hearing to allow sufficient time for judicial review. Documents must be submitted as PDF type documents. We cannot open Zip files or folders. If the courtesy copies have not been provided in a timely manner, the hearing may be cancelled without notice and will need to be rescheduled.

F. Emergency & Other Urgent Matters

The Hearing Officer’s assistant is not authorized to offer or schedule emergency or expedited hearing time. The moving attorney is required to confer with opposing counsel in a good faith effort to resolve the issue prior to filing an emergency motion. Any emergency motion must include a certificate of good faith that states the movant has contacted opposing counsel and his/her position on the relief sought. Requests for emergency or expedited hearing time must be made by contacting the Hearing Officer’s assistant by phone or email and providing a copy of the contested motion. The Hearing Officer will review the motion to determine whether an expedited or emergency hearing is warranted.

G. Exhibits for Evidentiary Proceedings

In-Person Hearings

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:

  • Designation of the party moving the item into evidence (i.e., Petitioner, Respondent, Mother, Father, 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
  • Case number (i.e., 2024 DR 1234).

Zoom Hearings

  • No later than 48 hours prior to the hearing, each party must provide to the Court and opposing side copies of any documents or case law to be used or referred to during the hearing or offered into evidence. No additional documents or exhibits may be emailed to the Hearing Officer/Magistrate during the hearing.
  • Any exhibits shall be pre-marked.
  • All documents shall be submitted as a PDF file via email to the Hearing Officer’s Office with your case number and date of hearing in the subject line.
  • In the email, each exhibit shall be attached as a separate PDF document.
  • All confidential information shall be redacted by the individual submitting the proposed exhibit (including, but not limited to, information such as account numbers, SSN, dates of birth, etc.).

H. Pretrial Procedures & Conferences

Status/CM Conferences: If a party needs a status/case management conference on a case, please file a motion that details the reasons for the request and send a courtesy copy to the Hearing Officer’s Division email. The matter may be scheduled using the procedures in Section B (Hearing Procedures), above. If all parties stipulate to a status/case management conference, a motion is not required. The reason for the status/CM must be stated on the notice.

DOR-involved Cases: Attorneys representing a party in a DOR/IVD Child Support case must coordinate hearing time with the Child Support Program/DOR Counsel before the matter is scheduled on JACS or a notice of hearing is filed.

Non-DOR Cases: For hearings 60 minutes or less, the attorneys shall coordinate hearing time and may schedule the matter on JACS on days allocated for non-DOR hearings (generally, certain Mondays and Fridays). For hearings longer than 60 minutes, the attorneys shall contact the Hearing Officer’s assistant by phone or email for scheduling availability and assistance.

I. Setting Case for Trial

Notice for Trial: The Notice for Trial must comply with Family Law Rule 12.440 and describe:

  • the type of case to be tried;
  • the specific issues to be tried;
  • the total time it will take all parties to present their case.

The original should be filed with the clerk and a copy provided to the court.

DOR Hearing Days: Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays are reserved for the exclusive use of the Department of Revenue.

Pro Se Motions/Trials: The Hearing Officer reserves two Mondays per month for the scheduling of pro se motions/trials. Other dates may be utilized as appropriate.

Private Attorney Cases: DOR and non-DOR hearings/trials with private attorneys are typically scheduled on certain Mondays and on Friday mornings.

J. Preferred Division Forms

See the Family Information & Forms page to find preferred division forms. For Division-specific forms, please see the Family Division page.

K. Other Division Procedures

For all DOR hearings, 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.

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.