Kirigin - Divisional Instructions

Divisional Instructions and Procedures During COVID-19 Pandemic

Based upon Administrative Order of the Florida Supreme Court and this Circuit, the following Divisional Instructions and Procedures govern cases pending before General Magistrate Diane M. Kirigin. The Florida Supreme Court has determined that "essential" in-person court proceedings are being held in Marchman Act cases. The remainder of the cases handled by the General Magistrate are being conducted remotely. Because the situation with the Coronavirus Pandemic is a fluid situation, circumstances may change from time to time as the Florida Supreme Court issues new administrative orders and as the Chief Judge of the Fifteenth Judicial Circuit implements COVID-19 practice and procedures through local administrative Order. Therefore, when in doubt about what is occurring first check the court as well as the website for updates. If any questions remain thereafter, call the General Magistrate's Assistant, Maria Camporese at: 1-(561)-624-6549. The following Coronavirus Pandemic Divisional Instructions and Procedures apply to the cases involving both attorneys and self-represented litigants.

Marchman Act Cases

These are the only in-person proceedings being conducted by the General Magistrate during her A.M. Thursday, Marchman Act Docket. Because of social distancing requirements she is using Courtroom #3 at the North County Courthouse to conduct these in-person hearings.

Baker Act Cases

At the present time these cases are being conducted electronically by telephone.

Family Cases

NO IN-PERSON APPEARANCES AT THE COURTHOUSE ARE PERMITTED FOR THIS TYPE OF HEARING as the family matters being conducted by the General Magistrate have currently been defined by the Florida Supreme Court as "non-essential" and are instead being conducted REMOTELY. The General Magistrate is still conducting her U.M.C. calendar, evidentiary and non-evidentiary hearings and Non-Jury Trials on a daily basis. As such, both in regard to any hearing before the General Magistrate (including U.M.C. hearings) and Non-Jury Trials the parties and Attorney shall appear via ZOOM (by telephone or video via the internet) as detailed below.

Zoom Telephonic Appearance

IF YOU OPT TO USE A TELEPHONE, then you must telephone:

1-877-853-5257 (US Toll-free) or
1-888-475-4499 (US Toll-free).

Then, when prompted enter the Meeting ID and Meeting Password. If you do not have an email address you have furnished to the Court you will have to call the General Magistrate's Office at 1-561-624-6549 to obtain the Meeting ID and Meeting Password information in order to appear telephonically.

Zoom Video Appearance Via Internet

IF YOU OPT TO USE VIDEO VIA INTERNET ACCESS please be sure that you contact the General Magistrate's Office at 1-561-624-6549 and immediately provide her Judicial Assistant with your email address so you can be furnished with the Meeting ID and Meeting Password information in order to appear via video.

GO TO www.zoom.us, click on "Join a Meeting" and enter the Meeting ID and Meeting Password that you will be provided in a separate Invite to be sent by the General Magistrate's Office to your email address. The Invite will contain the appropriate information including the Meeting ID and Meeting Password to connect online at (to be provided in the separate Invite to be sent by the General Magistrate's). If a party appears via video and presents the court with a valid Driver's License, a Notary Public is not required. Unless both parties waive the Notary requirement, a party or witness appearing by telephone (with no video) must have a Notary Public present with them so that the Court can identify and swear them in if testimony is being offered at the evidentiary hearing or Non-Jury Trial.

U.M.C. HEARINGS

Please submit proposed ORDERS from U.M.C. Hearing through O.L.S.

Electronic Submission of Documentary Evidence (i.e. Exhibits)

If you wish to introduce documentary evidence to the General Magistrate in the form of exhibits at your hearing or Non-Jury Trial please comply with the following procedure. Documentary evidence includes any papers, photographs, or other items that can reasonably be shared electronically.

If the documents comprising your exhibits total 10 pages or less, then submit at least 7 days prior to the hearing or Non-Jury Trial. Attorneys and self-represented parties shall submit the documents in electronic format to the General Magistrate's Office through the CAD-Box at CAD-NCHRoom2706@pbcgov.org.

If the documents comprising your exhibits exceed 10 pages, then you must submit hard copies of the documents to the General Magistrate's office by mail at least 7 days prior to the hearing or Non-Jury Trial.

You must send these documents to the opposing party at the same time you submit same to the General Magistrate, in the same method as submitted to the General Magistrate. If the documents have not been submitted to the other party then the evidence will not be considered by the General Magistrate. Please be cautioned that the electronic submission of these documents is being permitted under the "emergency" process triggered by the Coronavirus Pandemic. Your submission of the documents to the General Magistrate does not guarantee the admissibility of same into evidence and each party is required to lay the appropriate foundation for the admissibility of each piece of evidence under the Florida Rules Of Evidence. Finally, you are cautioned that confidential information (such as Bank Accounts and Social Security Numbers, etc.) should be removed from documents provided to the Magistrate as required by Fla. R. Jud. Admin., Rule 2.420(d).

If the parties attempt to comply in good faith with these instructions governing the submission of documentary evidence but technological issues prevent a meaningful submission or review of the evidence through remote means, the General Magistrate may in her discretion may continue or reset the evidentiary hearing or Non-Jury Trial to ensure that due process is complied with.

Remote Hearing and Non-Jury Trial Etiquette

Although hearings and Non-Jury Trials are being conducted remotely, they are still Court proceedings and as such are to be conducted with the same dignity and protocol that would apply if the parties and attorney appeared in person. As such, all participants should conduct themselves accordingly.

General Magistrate Kirigin is required to record all hearings and Non-Jury Trials are recorded in order to create and preserve an appellate record. As such, the parties and Attorneys are cautioned that when appearing remotely either telephonically or via ZOOM, each should be in a quiet, secluded room without children, music, pets or other audible and visual distractions that would prevent the Court from creating a clear and pristine official audio and video recording of these proceedings. Because of the visual aspect of ZOOM each person appearing should be appropriately attired. Witnesses other than the parties should be secluded and not present in the same "room" with the attorney and party until called as a witness at the hearing.

In the event the court returns to conducting in-person hearings at some future date the authority to permit your appearance by Zoom may be rescinded. Therefore, it is your obligation to go on-line to the 15th Judicial Circuit's website for this general magistrate and/or contact the general magistrate's office prior to your hearing to confirm whether it will conducted in -person or remotely.


Case Assignments:

Family: Cases wherein the male litigant's last name begins with letters A-K

Marchman Act: All even numbered cases filed in North County or Main Branch

Baker Act: Filed in North County or Main Branch

Notice to All Parties in Unified Family Court

The following are the policies of General Magistrate Diane Kirigin for Unified Family Court. 

All parties are expected to know and obey these policies.

Uniform Motion Calendar:  

Uniform Motion Calendar is held on Wednesdays from 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. If a matter takes more than 5 minutes per side or requires the presentation of evidence, then it should be specially set and not placed on the UMC Calendar. The piggybacking of multiple motions should be avoided.

Child Support and Non-Child Support Matters:

Child Support Matters: 

The General Magistrates have inherent jurisdiction over child support establishment, enforcement and modification proceedings pursuant to Florida Family Law Rules Of Procedure, Rule 12.491 and local Administrative Order {this includes items in the nature of health insurance for the parties' children, health care expense payment/reimbursement and child care as well as life insurance to secure same}. No Order of Referral to General Magistrate should issue as to a child support matter; however, pursuant to Ferencz v. Ferencz, 897 So. 2d 558 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2005), if the subject matter referred is in the nature of child support and attorney's fees are sought, an Order of Referral to General Magistrate needs to issue. In such an instance, to avoid unnecessary Objection to an Order of Referral to General Magistrate, if attorney's fees are an issue, the Order of Referral to General Magistrate should state: "The attorney's fees component of this Motion (or Petition) is the sole subject of this Order of Referral to General Magistrate."

Non-Child Support Matters: 

All other items not otherwise identified as child support by Court order and/or the parties' marital settlement agreement require that the matter be referred via an Order of Referral to General Magistrate pursuant to the Florida Family Law Rules, Rule 12.490. The Order must identify the General Magistrate by name and the matters being referred {by title and filing date, if possible}. In all cases involving Counsel, it is Counsel's obligation to prepare the Order of Referral to General Magistrate and submit same to the Circuit Court Judge for signature.

Objections to Orders of Referral to General Magistrate: 

Objections to an Order of Referral to General Magistrate should be furnished to the General Magistrate and should identify the Order of Referral to General Magistrate by date, as well as attach a copy of the Motion, Petition or other matter which is the subject of the Order of Referral to General Magistrate.

"No Referral" List:

Prior to scheduling any Unified Family Court Hearing be certain to check the "No Referral" List contained in Administrative Order 5.104-5/09 (D)(2) to ensure that the matter referred is appropriate for hearing by the General Magistrate.

Scheduling, Continuances, and Cancellations:

U.M.C. Hearings: 

These hearings need to be noticed to opposing Counsel (if none, the opposing party) with a copy to the General Magistrate, but not coordinated with the J.A. (other than checking the online suspension calendar).

Evidentiary Motion Hearings: 

Any request for an evidentiary hearing must be in writing and must include a date stamped copy of the Motion with a copy of the signed Order of Referral to General Magistrate, if one has been issued. No hearing will be scheduled without proof that the Motion has been filed with the Clerk of the Court. Upon receipt, the General Magistrate's J.A. will call you and coordinate a date and time for Hearing. Caution: If the General Magistrate's J.A. calls you and you fail to call back and respond after her second documented attempt to contact you, your Motion will be deemed abandoned and a Memo to the Clerk memorializing your failure to respond will be placed in the Court file without further action being taken by the General Magistrate.

Emergency Hearings:

If a matter is emergent, as defined by case law and the Circuit's Local Rules, then, by definition it is not appropriate for referral to General Magistrate but should be referred to the presiding Circuit Judge for processing and immediate action. If the Circuit Judge deems same non-emergent and refers it to a General Magistrate it shall be set in the normal course.

Non-Jury Trials:

A Non-Jury Trial will be scheduled by the General Magistrate as part of the case management process when a Notice to Set Cause for Trial is filed by counsel. Please be certain to include an accurate time estimate, any vacation or trial conflicts, and two sets of pre-addressed, stamped return envelopes for each party. As for pro se Non-Jury Trials, same are scheduled in coordination with the Family Division "FJ, FH, FI" Case Managers that advise the General Magistrate whether-or-not cases appear ripe for Non-Jury Trial. In addition, during the course of another matter when review of the Court file reflects that the case is ripe for Non-Jury Trial, the General Magistrate may sua sponte schedule same for Non-Jury Trial. The General Magistrate will issue an Order Setting Final Hearing and Implementation of Uniform Pretrial Procedures in connection with all Non-Jury Trials.

Civil Contempt/Enforcement Hearings:

If a Party wants to submit documents at the time of the hearing for the Court's consideration, then that Party shall bring TWO (2) COPIES of that document; one for the Court and one for the other Party. If a Party is seeking enforcement of child support, alimony, health insurance premiums, medical expense reimbursement, day care/summer camp costs, etc, which are NOT paid through the State Disbursement Unit (SDU) in Tallahassee, then the Party seeking enforcement shall prepare a detailed organized, itemized, and summarized statement for the Court and opposing party indicating the total of the items that has been paid, what has not been paid, and what if any reimbursement is due. Said Party shall also provide the Court and opposing party with a copy of the supporting bills, canceled checks, credit card receipts, etc.

If the motion only involves child support, then each party shall bring a stamped envelope to the hearing.  If the motion involves anything other than child support, then each party shall bring two stamped envelopes.  

Continuances:

Any request for continuance must be in writing, co-signed by the Client, and noticed for Hearing on the U.M.C. Calendar.  Alternatively, if the continuance is agreed to by opposing Counsel, Counsel may submit an agreed continuance order.

Cancellations: 

Cancellations may occur under either one of the following mechanisms:

  1. By submitting an Agreed Order that resolves the pending matter; or
  2. By filing a Notice withdrawing the pending motion or by filing a Notice of Voluntary Dismissal of the pending petition.

General Magistrate's "Global" Jurisdiction: 

Once an action for non-jury trial or motion is referred to the General Magistrate all discovery issues, procedural motions/matters, motions in limine, etc., as well as any motion for continuance is to be heard by the General Magistrate not the Circuit Judge. It is the function of the General Magistrate to alleviate and assist in the Circuit Judge(s) caseload, part and parcel of which is the global disposition of all ancillary motions/issues pertaining to the underlying action or motion previously referred.

Telephonic Appearances/Testimony: 

Parties must comply with Rule 2.530 of the Florida Rules of Judicial Administration.  The cost of the telephonic appearance, if long distance, will not be borne by the Court.

Exhibits:

An appropriate number of exhibits for submission to the Court and for the opposing party should be copied and prepared in advance of hearing or non-jury trial. It is not the obligation of the General Magistrate or her staff to provide photocopy services at hearing or non-jury trial.

Pro Se Litigants: 

Any Order or Notice Setting Hearing you prepare should have attached to it the form INSTRUCTIONS TO LITIGANTS/COUNSEL FOR CIVIL CONTEMPT/ENFORCEMENT HEARINGS and NOTICE TO ALL PARTIES IN UNIFIED FAMILY COURT.

Closure/Disposition of Motions And Modification Actions: 

Any "Agreed Order" or "Agreed Judgment" disposing of a pending MOTION or SUPPLEMENTAL PETITION should in its title and the body thereof direct the Clerk of the Circuit Court to report the MOTION or SUPPLEMENTAL PETITION as "CLOSED" for statistical reporting purposes. Likewise, a FINAL DISPOSITION form should accompany the closure of all modification actions.

Exceptions and Motions to Vacate:

Exceptions: 

The original Exceptions should be filed with the Clerk of the Circuit Court and a courtesy copy furnished to the General Magistrate for her reference, review, and corrections, if any. If the General Magistrate does not think any action needs to be taken on the Exceptions, to correct or amend the Report, then she will submit a copy of the Exceptions, her Report and proposed Order to the Judge for action, along with a copy of the cover memo being furnished to the Counsel of record, and if none, the opposing party. Upon receipt of your copy of the Memo, it is the Counsel's obligation to contact the presiding Judge to schedule the Exceptions Hearing.  Make certain that the Circuit Judge is furnished with either the Hearing transcript or C.D. tape/transcript within the timeframe in advance of the hearing pursuant to the Florida Family Law Rules Of Procedure, Rule 12.490. You can obtain the CD tape/transcript by contacting the Court Reporters Office at (561) 355-6526.

Motions to Vacate:

The original Motion to Vacate should be filed with the Clerk of the Circuit Court and a courtesy copy furnished to the General Magistrate for her reference and review, and corrections, if any. If the General Magistrate does not think any action needs to be taken on the Motion to Vacate, to correct or amend the Recommended Order, then she will submit a copy of the Motion to Vacate to the Judge for action, with a copy being furnished to the Counsel of record, and if none the opposing party. Upon receipt of your copy of the Memo it is the Counsel's obligation to contact the presiding Judge to schedule the Motion to Vacate Hearing. Make certain that the Circuit Judge is furnished with either the Hearing transcript or tape within the timeframe in advance of the hearing pursuant to the Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure, Rule 12.491.

Facsimile Use:

On occasion for emergent or other reasons the General Magistrate will authorize the use of facsimile communication when in Court or through her Judicial Assistant. This authorization is limited to the matter authorized only and for no other purpose and such authorization should not be abused.

Notice to Payors:

Effective July 1st, 2005 the Clerk of the Circuit Court transferred the obligation for preparation of Notices to Payor. This is the document which is served on the obligor's payor/employer, together with a copy of the controlling Income Deduction Order, to facilitate wage garnishment. When any Order establishing, modifying or enforcing child support and/or alimony is going to be wage garnishment is going to be effectuated, it is the obligation of Counsel to prepare the Notice to Payor, to prepare the U.S, Postal Service form 3811 green card and postage to the Court (or General Magistrate) to sign and mail. Once the card is received by the obligor's payor/employer the proof of receipt {i.e. the signed form 3811 green card} should be filed with the Clerk of the Court to evidence service.

Status Inquiries:

Do not have a party client or that person's spouse, significant other, parent or friend call to inquire about the status of a pending ruling or otherwise discuss the status of a Report or Recommended Order. No inquiry should be made by Counselor Counsel's staff as to the status of a matter earlier than 30 days from the date of hearing, unless the matter has been deemed emergent by the General Magistrate and a date in advance of 30 days for completion of the Report or Recommended Order has been promised by the General Magistrate.

Translators:

It is not the obligation of the Court to furnish a translator in any family division proceedings. Please be certain to make the appropriate arrangements in advance of hearing or non-jury trial. The translator may not be a friend or family member but must be a Court certified translator.

General Courtroom Conduct and Behavior:

  • All Court proceedings shall be conducted with dignity, decorum, courtesy and civility.
  • The use of cellular telephones, pagers, iPods, video and voice recording devices, PDAs and other forms of electronic equipment are prohibited in the hearing rooms. All cellular telephones and pagers must be turned off prior to entering the hearing room. Failure to comply with this order may result in the initiation of contempt proceedings against you by the Court.
  • Children in Court: Pursuant to Rule 12.407, of the Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure: "No minor child shall be deposed or brought to a deposition, to court to appear as a witness or to attend a hearing, or be subpoenaed to appear at a hearing without the entry of a prior order of the court authorizing same, based on good cause shown unless in an emergency situation."
  • The Clerk of the Circuit Court has a Self-Service Center located at the Palm Beach County Judicial Complex, 205 N. Dixie Highway, Room 2.2200, West Palm Beach, FL 33401, and in the Clerk's offices at each annex or satellite location where you can purchase forms and can make an appointment to speak with an attorney who can answer some questions and offer legal guidance; however, the center's staff is neither your attorney, your legal advisor, nor your office support staff.
  • Contact with Judges, General Magistrate and Hearing Officers' offices. A Pro Se Litigant is authorized to contact the judicial officer's office by telephone on matters related to the Court's schedule and attendance in Court. There is no other authorized purpose to contact the judicial officer's office. Visiting the judicial officer's office is not permitted because it disrupts the working routine in the office. Judicial and legal assistants assist judicial officers. It is not their duty to either listen to the parties about the facts of their case or their complaints, or give advice on what to do.
  • All requests to speak to the judicial officers on the telephone or have a private conference will be refused. Letters written to the judicial officers which offer or seek to discuss evidence in the case or attempt to influence the judicial officer's decisions in the case are strictly forbidden by ex parte rules governing verbal and written communication.
  • The role, function of, and limitations on General Magistrates is specifically described in Rule 12.490, Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure.
  • The role, function of, and limitations on Child Support Hearing Officers is specifically described in Rule 12.491, Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure.