If you wish to observe or attend by remote means please contact the Judge’s office for further instructions.
Temporary New Procedures for Manatee County Family Divisions
Although the Florida Supreme Court’s Administrative Order limiting in-person hearings impacts our ability to address some family division matters, we are committed to addressing as many issues as possible using the available technology. Because the court relaxed or temporarily suspended some rule requirements, we have some flexibility in offering attorneys and litigants the means to have their hearings go forward. As such, the following procedures are available.
FINAL HEARINGS (CASE SETTLED)
- Telephonic final hearings are permitted where parties are represented by counsel. The parties will conference in with their respective attorneys without the need for a notary presence.
- For parties that are not represented by attorneys or where there is an attorney on one side and an unrepresented party on the other side, both sides must waive the notary requirements in order to proceed with a telephonic final hearing.
- Where possible, if parties have access to a scanner or fax, they should fax or email the Division a copy of their driver’s license 24 hours prior to the hearing.
CONTESTED HEARINGS; NON-EVIDENTIARY/BOTH SIDES REPRESENTED
- Telephonic appearances are allowed. No evidence will be marked or submitted. There is no time limit for these hearings other than what limitations exist based on the technology used.
- Attorneys must conference themselves in first and then call the court. If this is not possible, contact the court to determine what technology is available.
CONTESTED HEARING; EVIDENTIARY/BOTH SIDES REPRESENTED
- All evidence must be submitted and marked at least 24 hours prior to the hearing. Attorneys should use the same numbering/lettering system the clerk uses when marking evidence (petitioner uses numbers and respondent uses letters).
- The court recording sheet/CAR will list what evidence was admitted and will be prepared by the judge if a clerk is not present. Everything submitted, whether formally admitted or not, will go to the clerk for filing.
CONTESTED HEARING: EVIDENTIARY/BOTH SIDES OR ONE SIDE PRO SE
- Evidence must be sent to the judge the day before the hearing and must clearly distinguish which side is offering it. Some flexibility will be afforded if the parties use an incorrect identification system. The judge will treat all evidence as marked for identification only and will note on recording sheet/CAR which documents were formally admitted, same as in #2 above.
EVIDENTIARY/TIME SENSITIVE OR EMERGENCY
- These hearings may be held in person if they meet the emergency criteria and are approved by the judge. If a witness or party does not wish to appear or cannot appear in person, they may appear by phone/video, with the caveat that if their identity is in doubt, the court may not allow their testimony.
- All evidence must be provided to the other side at least one day before the hearing.
- These final hearings may be done via video or phone but must have a notary present.
- The judges are amenable to conducting these hearings at a location other than the courthouse where practicable as a courtesy to the parties. Please contact the judicial assistant to request such arrangements.
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE CASES
- These mission critical matters are being conducted in person. The number of people in the courtroom will be limited to ten or fewer, including staff.
- Any party who cannot appear or does not wish to come to court may be granted a continuance if deemed appropriate. Unless previously stipulated, we must have a means of verifying identity if we allow a party or a witness to appear telephonically.
Procedures updated March 25, 2020