Circuit Court Family

The Family Division of the Circuit Court hears civil cases involving dissolution of marriage, name changes and injunctions for domestic and repeat violence. Please visit the Family Information & Forms Page for more information related to the family division.

Juvenile Dependency

The Family Division also hears all matters relating to juveniles who have been abandoned, abused, or neglected, surrendered for the purpose of adoption, or who are persistent runaways, habitually truant or ungovernable.

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Circuit Family

Judge Don T. Hall

 

If you wish to observe or attend by remote means please contact the Judge’s office for further instructions.

Circuit Family Forms

 

Circuit Family Division 3

Judge Kevin Bruning

OVERVIEW

As of June 21, 2021, the Chief Justice of the Florida Supreme Court, Charles Canady, has removed all requirements of social distancing and mandatory face coverings as well as eliminating the requirement that most hearings be conducted remotely. Many court events have been scheduled over the next several months, and were scheduled as “Zoom” proceedings. To provide maximum flexibility and consistency as Manatee County, Family Division 3, transitions back to “in-person” proceedings, the following procedures will be followed:

TRIALS

All cases set for trial on or after Monday, July 26, 2021, will be held in person, in courtroom 3D of the Manatee County Judicial Center. Any requests for Zoom trial proceedings must be made, in writing, and set for hearing.

EVIDENTIARY MOTION HEARINGS

Effective, Monday, July 26, 2021, all hearings noticed as evidentiary hearings will be held in person. If you have already scheduled and noticed your hearing as a Zoom proceeding, you must immediately file an Amended Notice of Hearing reflecting the location of the hearing as: Courtroom 3D, Manatee County Judicial Center. Any requests for Zoom hearing must be made, in writing, and set for hearing.

NON-EVIDENTIARY HEARINGS

Case Management Conferences and Trial Scheduling Conferences will continue to be conducted exclusively via Zoom for the remainder of 2021. Effective Monday, July 26, 2021, all non-evidentiary motion hearings will be held in person. If you have already scheduled and noticed your hearing as a Zoom proceeding, you must immediately file an Amended Notice of Hearing, reflecting the location of the hearing as: Courtroom 3D, Manatee County Judicial Center. Any requests for Zoom hearing must be made, in writing, and set for hearing.

PRO SE HEARINGS

The court will be working with the pro se coordinator to make Zoom hearings available for uncontested and simplified dissolution cases, pending further updates.

HYBRID HEARINGS

At this time, the court does not have the available technology to conduct hybrid hearings in which some parties appear remotely and some in person. If, and when, this becomes available, these instructions will be updated accordingly.

SCHEDULING HEARINGS
 

Magistrate Paul Hudson

UPDATE:  As of August 16, 2021

Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the only in-persons hearings before Magistrate Hudson at this time will be any hearings set for 3 hours or longer.  Magistrate Hudson will be conducting all other hearings via Zoom Video or Audio Teleconferencing until further notice. There are no fees to attend by Zoom. It is free and easy to use.

Magistrate Hudson's hearing dates are listed below by date. Hearing dates may also have morning and afternoon dockets. Each docket has a unique Meeting ID and Password that will be set forth below and will be needed to participate in your hearing.

Magistrate Hudson's Zoom hearings will be digitally recorded. If you plan to have a court reporter for your Zoom Hearing, please let the Magistrate know at the beginning of the hearing to make sure the court reporter is present and participating. Please review and adhere to the following instructions:

OPTION ONE: APPEARING VIA ZOOM VIDEO:
  1. Download the free Zoom App. on your smartphone or computer PRIOR to your hearing date. https://www.zoom.us
  2. On the date and time of your hearing, select "Join a Meeting" and then enter your Meeting ID and Password to access the meeting. Where do you find these? (a) Look on your Notice of Hearing; 0R (b) 12th Judicial Website has a section for Zoom Hearings. Magistrate Hudson has a listing of hearings by dates, containing this information.
  3. Once you connect, please wait to be checked in. You may be placed in a "waiting room" and on mute until your hearing begins.
OPTION TWO: APPEARING VIA ZOOM AUDIO (PHONE):

No Camera. No problem! The Zoom platform allows you to appear by telephone if you do not have a camera or a computer. On the date and time of your hearing, just call (786) 635-1003. Then enter your Meeting ID and Password to get into the hearing. Once you connect, please wait as you may be placed on mute until your hearing begins.

PROBLEMS CONNECTING TO YOUR HEARING?

If you have problems connecting to the hearing, immediately e-mail the Magistrate's Assistant at ncabrera@jud12.flcourts.org DURING YOUR HEARING TIME for further instructions.

SPECIAL RULES FOR EVIDENTIARY HEARINGS:
  1. 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 Magistrate during the hearing.
  2. Any exhibits shall be pre-marked because there will be no clerk present.
  3. All documents shall be submitted as a PDF file via email to ncabrera@jud12.flcourts.org.  In the subject line of the email, you must include the style of the case, and the case number.
  4. In the email each exhibit shall be attached as a SEPARATE PDF document.
  5. For all final hearings on petitions for dissolution of marriage taking place via Zoom, the parties SHALL either appear at the hearing with the ability to hold a copy of their Florida driver’s license (issued at least six (6) months prior to when the petition was filed) up to the digital camera being used by the party for the hearing so that the Magistrate can view the driver’s license, or, if they do not have access to a digital camera, they must email a copy of their driver’s license to Magistrate Hudson at least 24 hours prior to the hearing.
  6. Any and 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).
  7. All parties are responsible for securing the attendance of any witnesses they wish to call via Zoom, by providing those witnesses with any and all procedural requirements for attending a Zoom hearing listed herein, as well as the Zoom Meeting ID and Password.  If a party intends on calling a witness during a Zoom hearing, they must provide the name and contact information for that witness to the opposing side at least ten (10) days prior to the hearing.
SCHEDULING HEARINGS BEFORE MAGISTRATE HUDSON
  1. All parties are still required to obtain an Order of Referral from the Circuit Judge which refers the matter to be heard to Magistrate Hudson.  This requirement is mandatory.
  2. When noticing your Zoom hearing before Magistrate Hudson, the Notice of Hearing SHALL contain the following information:  Meeting ID; Password; Telephone Number for audio access  only.  The party scheduling the hearing must provide the Notice of Hearing and hearing materials at least five (5) days prior to the scheduled hearing by submitting them to Magistrate Hudson.  Do not send mail to Magistrate Hudson’s office during the COVID-19 pandemic. 
  3. Due to the fact that other parties will be scheduling remote hearings before Magistrate Hudson at specific times during the COVID-19 pandemic, all parties SHALL reserve and schedule sufficient time for the hearing to be concluded, while affording BOTH sides equal hearing time.  This means that if you believe you need 30 minutes to present your case, you must reserve 60 minutes for your hearing so that each party has an equal amount of time to present their respective cases. 
SCHEDULING HEARINGS
 

Circuit Family Division 4

Judge Teresa Dees

OVERVIEW

Due to recent directives and clarifications from the Florida Supreme Court and the Chief Judge of the 12th Judicial Circuit, which are outlined, in part, below:

  1. All non-trial court proceedings MUST be conducted remotely if requested by a party, unless the chief judge or presiding judge determines that the interests of justice require the proceedings to be conducted in person. All non-trial court proceedings should be conducted remotely, as appropriate, to facilitate the efficient and expeditious processing of cases, unless doing so would be inconsistent with the constitution or other laws.
  2. 2. Participants may request to be socially distanced and if requested, the court will address such requests as appropriate under the circumstances at the time of the request.

The Court is modifying Division 4 requirements, as follows, effective IMMEDIATELY:

TRIALS

All family law trials will be held, in person, in courtroom 3E of the Manatee County Judicial Center. ALL requests for Zoom trial proceedings must be made, in writing, with an opportunity for opposing counsel to respond. The Court will provide direction upon receipt of each party’s respective position.

EVIDENTIARY MOTION HEARINGS

All hearings noticed as evidentiary hearings will be held in person unless the parties agree to appear via Zoon. Any contested request for Zoom hearing must be made, in writing, with an opportunity for opposing counsel to respond. The Court will provide direction upon receipt of each party’s respective position.

NON-EVIDENTIARY HEARINGS

All non-evidentiary hearings will be held via Zoom, pending further direction from the Florida Supreme Court and/or Chief Judge Roberts.

PRO SE HEARINGS

All pro se hearings will be held via Zoom, pending further direction from the Florida Supreme Court and/or Chief Judge Roberts.

HYBRID HEARINGS / WITNESSES APPEARING VIA ZOOM

At this time, the court has limited available technology to conduct hybrid hearings in which some parties appear remotely and others in person. If any party is requesting a witness appear via Zoom, for a hearing proceeding in person, the party must obtain a court order and present the same to the I.T. department no later than 48 hours prior to the hearing. If a party intends to call an international witness via zoom, the party must obtain a court order stating the country from which the witness will appear, and present the made to the I.T. department, no later than 48 hours prior to the hearing.

SCHEDULING HEARINGS
 

Magistrate David Caskey

OVERVIEW

As of June 21, 2021, the Chief Justice of the Florida Supreme Court, Charles Canady, removed all requirements of social distancing and mandatory face coverings as well as eliminating the requirement that most hearings be conducted remotely.  On July 29, 2021, however, Chief Justice Charles Canady issued Administrative Order No. AOSC21-17, Amendment 1, which provides, among other things, that “[p]articipants who have the capability of participating by electronic means in remote appellate or trial court proceedings must do so.” (Emphasis added).  In addition, the Chief Judge of the Twelfth Judicial Circuit, the Honorable Charles Roberts, has encouraged all judges and magistrates of the Twelfth Judicial Circuit to limit the number of in-person proceedings and to conduct as many hearings as possible using remote technology as a result of the recent surge in COVID-19 cases in the Twelfth Judicial Circuit, and the State of Florida.  Accordingly, Magistrate David Caskey’s judicial requirements are hereby amended as follows:

TRIALS AND EVIDENTIARY HEARINGS

Effective August 31, 2021, all trials and evidentiary hearings will be conducted remotely via Zoom, in accordance with Magistrate Caskey’s procedures and requirements for Zoom hearings which have been posted on the Twelfth Judicial Circuit’s website since May of 2020.  All of those rules, procedures, and requirements shall remain in effect until amended by the Magistrate’s office.  The log in credentials for all of Magistrate Caskey’s Zoom dockets are also posted on the Twelfth Judicial Circuit’s website for the parties’ convenience.  All notices scheduling hearings to be conducted before the Magistrate on or after August 31, 2021, must include the appropriate Zoom log in credentials.  If a hearing has already been noticed to take place before the Magistrate in person on or after August 31, 2021, the party who filed the notice scheduling that hearing must immediately amend the notice of hearing to reflect that the hearing will be conducted via Zoom.

NON-EVIDENTIARY HEARINGS

Case Management Conferences and other non-evidentiary hearings, such as hearings directed at the pleadings and motions to compel discovery, will continue to be conducted exclusively via Zoom, in the interest of making these hearings more convenient and less costly for the parties. 

CIVIL HEARINGS REFERRED TO MAGISTRATE CASKEY

Contact Kelley Hightower to schedule your hearing on JACS.  The parties must schedule their hearings in civil cases through the Magistrate’s office to ensure that those hearings are scheduled on dockets that are reserved for civil cases, rather than family law cases.  If you schedule your hearing without contacting our office it will be cancelled.

SCHEDULING HEARINGS
 

Magistrate / Hearing Officer Mary Ann Floyd

SCHEDULING HEARINGS
 

If you wish to observe or attend by remote means please contact the Judge’s office for further instructions.

Circuit Family Division 1

Judge Kimberly Bonner

All hearings conducted will follow the Chief Judge’s as well as Justice Canady’s Administrative Order. All hearings will go forward as originally scheduled, if any hearing is set to be in person but a party wishes to appear via zoom please contact the Judges office

SCHEDULING HEARINGS USING JACS
 

Circuit Family Division 2

Judge Maria Ruhl

UPDATED (as of August 30, 2021):
Due to Florida Supreme Court and Local Administrative Orders, all hearings will be held via Zoom. All hearing time on JACS are for Zoom hearings. Judge Ruhl's Notice of Hearing template is required for all Zoom Hearings. All in-person hearing requests, must be done by Motion and submitted to our office for consideration. The Court may rule without a hearing or set a status conference to inquire further.

SCHEDULING HEARINGS
 

Circuit Family Division H

Judge Hunter Carroll

PLEASE READ CAREFULLY

Effective June 21, 2021, these Court events will be in-person in the Courthouse: jury trials, nonjury trials, evidentiary hearings exceeding 1 hour, 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 H, R.L. Anderson Administration Building, 4000 S. Tamiami Trail, Venice, Florida 34293.

All other hearings can be in-person, by Zoom, or both at the discretion of the party.

Judge Carroll is testing a hybrid Courtroom, meaning that Judge Carroll 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 have access to a hybrid courtroom at this time.

For any hearing before Judge Carroll that is 1 hour in length or less the parties may appear in-person in Courtroom H or remotely via Zoom without any special request and without notification to the Court. The parties by motion may seek an alternate appearance method. Please do not contact the Court’s Judicial Assistant to notify the Court whether parties intend to appear remotely via Zoom or in-person as each party has the discretion to choose which appearance method that party prefers.

When drafting a Notice of Hearing for a hearing less than 1 hour in length, you must include Judge Carroll’s Zoom credentials (see Judge Carroll’s requirements) and explain that the parties may appear in-person or remotely.

Without exception, 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.

UMC hearings will continue to be set through contacting the Court’s Judicial Assistant.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, Judge Carroll was lenient did not enforce normal Court attire. Effective June 21, 2021, normal Court attire will be requested whether appearing in-person or remotely via Zoom before Judge Carroll.

SCHEDULE HEARINGS
 

Magistrate Matthew Peters

SCHEDULING HEARINGS USING JACS