Bassaline - Divisional Instructions

Case Assignments

Family: Cases wherein the male litigant's last name begins with letters A-K
Marchman Act: All odd numbered cases filed in South County
Baker Act: Filed in South County

Notice To All Parties In Unified Family Court

The following are the policies of General Magistrate Peter Bassaline for Unified Family Court.
All parties are expected to know and obey these policies.

Uniform Motion Calendar

Uniform Motion Calendar is held on Thursdays from 8:45 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 U.M.C. 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.

Effective February 23, 2016 all orders of referral to the General Magistrate must reflect "Room C" under the case number and division. Each motion/petition must be referred to the general magistrate by a separate order of referral. The court will no longer accept orders of referral which refer multiple motions/petitions to the general magistrate.

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 (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 message regarding U.M.C. cancellations}.

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 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 co-ordinate 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 co-ordination with the Family Division "FY, FZ, FX" Case' Managers who advises 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 his 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 his reference, review, and corrections, if any. A copy of the exceptions should be provided by U.S Mail unless otherwise directed. If the General Magistrate does not think any action needs to be taken on the Exceptions, to correct or amend the Report, then he will submit a copy of the Exceptions, his Report and proposed Order to the Judge for action, 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 time frame 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) 355~6328.

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 his 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 he 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 time frame 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 his Judicial Assistant. This authorization is limited to the matter authorized only and for no other purpose and such authorization should not be abused.

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.