FZ and IZ Divisional News

Family Law Division "FZ": E-mail: CAD-DivisionFZ@pbcgov.org

Probate Law Division "IZ": E-mail: CAD-DivisionIZ@pbcgov.org

AO 12.515: COVID-19 Health and Safety Protocols and Operational Measures

The Court is now conducting in person evidentiary hearings including trials.  

If you have previously been noticed for a zoom evidentiary hearing or trial and have not complied with the evidentiary requirements below regarding exhibits and witnesses you must appear in person.  Additionally, the parties may agree to in-person proceeding see below.

Please check back frequently as this is subject to change. The Court's Static Zoom Link is below.

*Please be aware the change in Zoom link below is for future events set after 01/18/22.

*For all events set prior to 01/18/22, check your Notice of Hearing or the Order setting your event. Those events set prior to 01/18/22 may have a different Zoom link listed on them and the event will go forward in the link that was noticed within the Notice of Hearing / Order Setting Hearing.

Zoom Meeting Information

THE ZOOM LINK FOR DIVISIONS "FZ & IZ" WILL BE THE SAME EVERYDAY. No passcode.

Meeting Link: Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 837 4469 0818 / no passcode needed

Dial by your location:

  • US Toll-free 877-835-5257
  • US Toll-free 888-475-4499

Trials/Evidentiary Hearings

ALL PROPOSED ORDERS ARE TO BE SUBMITTED TO THE COURT FOR REVIEW NO LATER THAN 48 HOURS FOLLOWING THE HEARING VIA OLS.

All proposed orders must be submitted through the OLS system. In the notes/comments section you MUST indicate whether it is one of the following utilizing one of the formats and exact language below:

  1. AGREED ORDER WITHOUT HEARING: [Name of Order / attached motion / agreement].
  2. ORDER AFTER HEARING: Parties agree the order [Name of Order] accurately reflects the Court’s ruling after the hearing on [DATE AND TIME OF HEARING].
  3. PARTIES CANNOT AGREE ON A PROPOSED ORDER [DATE AND TIME OF HEARING]. Attached is the transcript. Each party has submitted their own order with an explanation distinguishing the difference between the two proposed orders. The parties (attorneys and clients) understand the parties have a duty to attempt to resolve any conflicts and accurately set forth the ruling made by the Court.
  4. FUTURE PROPOSED ORDER FOR HEARING ON [DATE AND TIME OF HEARING]: Wife/Husband’s Proposed Order that has been provided to opposing counsel.
  5. PROBATE EX PARTE ORDER

Requests for Trial Date:

When a case is at issue, file a Notice for Trial with a courtesy copy to Court including the following:

  1. Indicate the docket numbers of the pleadings at issue ready to be tried with AMOUNT OF TIME REQUESTED;
  2. Indicate the docket numbers of the responsive pleadings at issue ready to be tried including any counter-petitions and answers;
  3. If post judgment, identify the docket numbers of the referral to the Magistrate, timely Objection, and Order regarding the Objection;
  4. Indicate the date mediation was attended AND what issues, if any, were resolved;
  5. Indicate the docket numbers of both parties' Financial Affidavits and dates filed;
  6. Indicate the docket numbers of both parties Notice of compliance with Mandatory Disclosure;
  7. If children: indicate the docket numbers of each parties' certificate of completion of Parenting Course (NOTE: the person requesting trial MUST have completed course).

Providing Documents to the Court for All Trials and Evidentiary Hearings

  1. Exhibits must be clearly marked. All documents I.E. Case Law, Exhibits, Etc. shall be sent by hard copy and received three (3) business days prior to the hearing.

    You must include the following when marking exhibits:

    Petitioner (Wife / Husband) or Respondent (Wife / Husband)
    Case Number:
    Date:
    Exhibit Number:
    Objection: Yes / No
    Admitted: Yes / No

  2. For very short hearings, that you would want the Court to only view a document you may send via e-mail two (2) business days prior to the hearing.
  3. Any witness appearing via video with be sworn-in by the court. Out of state witnesses appearing remotely must agree to being sworn in by video / zoom. It is incumbent upon the proponent of the witness to confirm the witnesses agrees prior to the hearing.
  4. Any witness appearing via telephone (no video) must have a notary public available to be sworn-in or have filed an Affidavit if a notary is not available.

Instructions for Special Set Hearings - Family Division "FZ" and Probate Division "IZ"

Family Division "FZ" and Probate Division "IZ" are now participating in Online Scheduling for Special Set Hearings for hearings thirty (30) minutes. If no times appear, please check the system regularly for new dates and times. As dates and times are available they are released into the online system.

Please contact the Court's judicial assistant for special set hearings that require 15 minutes or longer than 30 minutes. Email the judicial assistant to obtain available dates and times to coordinate with the opposing party. [submit requests to CAD-DivisionFZ@pbcgov.org for family cases; CAD-DivisionIZ@pbcgov.org for probate cases] In the email request, the party will provide case number, complete style of the case, amount of time needed, the motion(s) to be heard including full title of the motion and filing date(s) of the motion(s) or docket entry number(s), if available. Once all parties have coordinated in good faith and selected a date, parties are to email the judicial assistant to verify that the date selected is still available. Once parties receive an email confirmation that the date and time are secured they may file their Order Setting Hearing through the Online System.

Mail courtesy hard copies of documents larger than ten (10) pages in totality (ex.: motions, memorandum of law and legal authority) for Special Set Hearings to the Court for review in advance of all hearings 3 business days prior to the scheduled hearing. Judge Scher will review all motions, memorandum of law and legal authority prior to all Special Set Hearings. Legal authority is to be limited to the best three cases per issue absent good cause and no string citations.

E-mail courtesy copies of documents less than 10 pages (ex.: motions, memorandum of law and legal authority) for Special Set Hearings to the Court for review in advance of all hearings 3 business days prior to the scheduled hearing. Judge Scher will review all motions, memorandum of law and legal authority prior to all Special Set Hearings. Legal authority is to be limited to the best three cases per issue absent good cause and no string citations.

ALL PROPOSED ORDERS ARE TO BE SUBMITTED TO THE COURT FOR REVIEW NO LATER THAN 48 HOURS FOLLOWING THE HEARING VIA OLS.

All proposed orders must be submitted through the OLS system. In the notes/comments section you MUST indicate whether it is one of the following utilizing one of the formats and exact language below:

  1. AGREED ORDER WITHOUT HEARING: [Name of Order / attached motion / agreement].
  2. ORDER AFTER HEARING: Parties agree the order [Name of Order] accurately reflects the Court’s ruling after the hearing on [DATE AND TIME OF HEARING].
  3. PARTIES CANNOT AGREE ON A PROPOSED ORDER [DATE AND TIME OF HEARING]. Attached is the transcript. Each party has submitted their own order with an explanation distinguishing the difference between the two proposed orders. The parties (attorneys and clients) understand the parties have a duty to attempt to resolve any conflicts and accurately set forth the ruling made by the Court.
  4. FUTURE PROPOSED ORDER FOR HEARING ON [DATE AND TIME OF HEARING]: Wife/Husband’s Proposed Order that has been provided to opposing counsel.
  5. PROBATE EX PARTE ORDER

Local Rule 4

The Court requires strict compliance with amended Local Rule 4. Prior to setting a matter on the motion calendar, the party or counsel noticing the motion shall attempt to resolve the matter and shall certify the good faith attempt to resolve. See amended Local Rule 4.

Uncontested Dissolutions of Marriage

Uncontested Dissolutions of Marriage are being conducted in person and/or hybrid as parties can choose to appear both by zoom and in person. Parties appearing via Zoom must provide proper notice to all parties. The Courts static zoom link is listed above, Parties can upload the Final Judgment through OLS without the need for a hearing. The proposed final judgment must be submitted via OLS only in WORD format. Documents listed below must be attached to the proposed final judgment in PDF format:

  1. Testimony at Final Hearing
  2. The Final Disposition Form
  3. Mediated Settlement Agreement (Only if it is to be merged with the Final Judgment)
  4. Parenting Plan (Only if it is to be merged with the Final Judgment)
  5. A copy of your client’s driver’s license
  6. A cover letter needs to specify that all parties, pro se or opposing counsel, have reviewed the Final Judgment and have no objection. Also, if there are children involved, the Final Judgment needs to incorporate specifics on child support (i.e. how much, how it is to be paid, & how often it is to be paid.)

Contested Evidentiary Hearings and Dissolution Trials

For all dissolution trials:

A pre-trial stipulation must be filed no later than 2 business days prior to hearing. If a joint stipulation cannot be reached, counsel must certify the attempts to obtain one, including that counsel provided the submitted unilateral proposed stipulation to opposing counsel at least 48 hours prior to submission to the Court with no response.

The stipulation must include the witnesses to be called, the agreed to issues, disputed issues with the relief requested by each party, disputed assets and liabilities (see below), proposed parenting plan, proposed child support guidelines.

Pursuant to Florida Statute Section 61.075 (3):

In any contested dissolution action wherein a stipulation and agreement has not been entered and filed, any distribution of marital assets or marital liabilities shall be supported by factual findings in the judgment or order based on competent substantial evidence with reference to the factors enumerated in subsection (1). The distribution of all marital assets and marital liabilities, whether equal or unequal, shall include specific written findings of fact as to the following:

  1. Clear identification of nonmarital assets and ownership interests;
  2. Identification of marital assets, including the individual valuation of significant assets, and designation of which spouse shall be entitled to each asset;
  3. Identification of the marital liabilities and designation of which spouse shall be responsible for each liability;
  4. Any other findings necessary to advise the parties or the reviewing court of the trial court's rationale for the distribution of marital assets and allocation of liabilities.

Counsel must provide the Court a written numbered list of every disputed asset and liability with proposed value addressing all of the above no later than 2 business days prior to the hearing.

The Court is cognizant that many evidentiary hearings cannot be handled remotely unless the parties can reach agreement on some of the procedural or evidentiary rules. Parties must have had a remote conference prior to the hearing for all evidentiary hearings establishing the same. Witnesses and court reporters also will appear remotely. If the parties have not complied with these instructions and a remote hearing may not be effectively conducted, the Court will discontinue the hearing and reset the hearing for an in-person hearing.

FOR ANY HEARINGS PREVIOUSLY NOTICED VIA ZOOM, the parties may agree in writing to going forward with an in person evidentiary hearing and submit the same to the Court indicating what witnesses will appear in person and what witnesses will appear remotely.

Please contact Judge Scher's office if you desire to schedule an evidentiary hearing. If you believe that your case requires emergency action pursuant to Family Admin. Order 5.203-1/17 or Probate Admin. Order 6.104-11/14, you should file the appropriate motion in writing.  DO NOT CALL UNLESS YOUR MOTION HAS BEEN FILED WITH THE CLERK.

If all parties agree, Judge Scher will rule on any motions based on the written pleadings and responses without the necessity of a hearing.

All Probate and Family matters shall be submitted by U.S. Mail, UPS, FedEx, etc. Remember to enclose payment and return envelope if you are in need of certified copies. Please check the Clerk's Office website for mailing addresses.

Probate Checklists Now Available

Digital Probate Checklists are now available in the 15th Circuit's Online Services System ("OLS").

Digital Checklists eliminate the need to schedule ex-parte hearings, or even come to the courthouse.

Additionally, they limit the constant flow of paper back and forth between the probate divisions and the case managers.

Digital Checklists also comply with Supreme Court Administrative Order AOSC19-74.

How Does It Work?

To Submit an Order:

As an example, below are the steps to submit an Order for Testate Summary Administration

  1. Log into the 15th Circuit's OLS
  2. In OLS, create the appropriate order one of three ways:
    1. Click on the "Submit Order From Template" button;
      • Select the Generic Order template, and type in the text of your order; or
    2. If you have previously drafted the order in Word offline, cut and paste the order text into the body of the Generic Order template.
      • Follow the instructions on the screen and complete.
      • Click "Submit" to send the order to the judge.
    3. In OLS, click the "Submit Proposed Order" button;
      • Browse your computer and select, then upload the order;
      • Review the document and make any format adjustments necessary prior to submission.
      • Follow the instructions on the screen to submit the order to the court.

For additional information on court provided digital training resources visit the Circuit's YouTube channel, CourtHelp4U.

IMPORTANT:

All proposed orders for Probate cases should be submitted directly through the OLS system and should not be sent to the Judge's CAD division email or via US mail.

PLEASE NOTE:

Documents without a checklist may be forwarded to the case manager for review in the ordinary course. Incomplete or inaccurate checklists will be returned with a deficiency or rejection memorandum in the ordinary course. To avoid unnecessary delays in processing your paperwork, please ensure all checklists are accurate and complete.

Deficiencies:

If you receive a Deficiency or Rejection Memorandum, Status Order, or other Order of Deficiency, you may avoid an ex-parte hearing by curing your deficiency immediately and filing all necessary documentation to show the deficiency has been cured. Once ALL the cited deficiencies have been cured and related documents have posted on the docket, please send your proposed order(s) through OLS with a notation that all deficiencies have been cured.

Effective as of 8/14/19: Attorney/Guardian Fees

The court must consider the criteria defined in FL STAT §744.108 when reviewing Attorney and Guardian fees requests; therefore, all fee petitions should include the nature and value of the Ward's assets at the time of filing the fee request, the monthly income earned and the monthly expenses of the Ward.

Online Scheduling is now available for UMC and Special Set hearings in Family Division "FZ" and Probate Division "IZ".

Prior to first use, users must created an account in the Court's Online Services (current users can use their existing account).

The UMC and SPECIAL SET calendaring application can be accessed by visiting www.15thcircuit.com and selecting "View All Web Applications" from within the Circuit Web Applications box. You may upload your Notice of Hearing, Motion, and Additional Documents for the Court's review prior to the scheduled hearing. **YOU MUST UPLOAD ORDERS** See notes above regarding format of orders.

Formatting Documents

All recorded documents (including final judgments) must provide a 3x3 space in the upper right hand corner. The Clerk of Court will no longer accept documents for recording without this space. Please see Rule 2.520, and MyPalmBeachClerk.com. You may also contact the Clerk of Court for further information as to the specific documents required.

Self-Represented Parties (Pro Se)

If you are a self-represented pro se party (with no attorney), you must contact the Family Court Case Manager for questions and guidance regarding your case.

Martinque Sanders 561-330-1775

Do Not Send Letters, Emails or Notes to the Court

The Court does not act on letters, notes or emails sent by either party. The Court acts on petitions or motions properly filed with the Clerk of the Court. File the appropriate petition or motion with the Clerk of the Court, send a copy to the opposing side and a courtesy copy to the Court in order for requests to be addressed by the Court. All documents emailed to the Court must state that they were emailed to the opposing side in the same email or they will be returned as ex parte communication.