Contacting the Magistrate’s Office: Neither attorneys nor parties may contact Magistrate directly. Attorneys should never tell their clients to contact the Magistrate’s office. Only the Magistrate’s assistant may be contacted and then only regarding scheduling and related procedural issues. The assistant can NOT give legal advice nor will the assistant relay substantive communications (any information other than scheduling) to the Magistrate. If a party is represented by an attorney, the party should NOT contact the Magistrate’s office. For scheduling and related matters, self-represented-parties and attorneys or their offices may contact the Magistrate’s assistant at 850-595-0391, though email is preferred at firstname.lastname@example.org. Any issue to be considered by a Magistrate should be in the form of a motion and request for hearing filed with the Clerk of Court with copies provided to all parties of record. Merely filing a motion with the Court will not bring the matter before the Magistrate. It is the responsibility of the moving party to coordinate a hearing with all attorneys/parties of record and to provide proper notice to all.
Application of these Procedures: These procedures govern attorneys and their clients as well as parties who are not represented by attorneys, who appear before Magistrate McIver.
Forms Available for Download: The forms referred to in these procedures are available for download below.
Case Captions: F.S. § 61.043 requires that in commencing a dissolution of marriage proceeding, the parties should be designated as “Husband” and “Wife” rather than “Petitioner” and “Respondent” as follows: “In Re: The marriage of ___, Husband, and ___ Wife.”
Filing Documents in Court Files
Petitions and Counter-Petitions should indicate whether they are: “with children” or “without children.” Example: “Petition for Dissolution of Marriage with Children”
Every title of a document filed with the Clerk’s Office should include the party for whom it is filed e.g.: “Wife’s Financial Affidavit.”
Other than what is required by the Rules or Statutes, do not file discovery documents in the court file, e.g.: banking records, tax returns, etc.
Exceptions to a Magistrate’s Report and Recommendation and Motions for Rehearing should be filed with the Clerk’s Office and a copy forwarded to the Judge’s Office for review.
A motion MUST be filed prior to requesting a hearing.
Hearing scheduling process:
(a) Request possible hearing times from Magistrate’s assistant.
(b) Communicate with opposing attorney regarding agreeable dates and times.
(c) Communicate agreed upon hearing time to the Magistrate’s assistant and receive confirmation.
(d) Within five (5) days of scheduling, file a Notice of Hearing with the Clerk’s office or through the e-portal and forward a copy to the opposing party or attorney. If the hearing is a final hearing, within five (5) days the attorney should send to the Magistrate’s assistant a proposed Order Setting Final Hearing on (state the name of the Petition or Supplemental Petition and date of filing). If this five (5) day requirement is not met, the hearing is subject to cancellation. A pro se party not using the e-portal may use regular U.S. mail.
(e) A pro se party must have filed a designation of email address to allow proper service only by email. A pro se party listing an email address in a pleading or motion does not substitute for the requirement of filing the designation. If no designation has been filed, service must be made to their physical address of record. The service party may also opt to serve by email.
(f) Please see Florida Family Law Rule of Procedure 12.490(d)(4) for the proper form of the notice. See also Florida Family Law Rule of Procedure 12.615(b) for civil contempt hearings in support matters.
(g) If the relief requested is for temporary relief and temporary relief has been requested in the petition, a separate motion us unnecessary. However, in such case, the Notice of Hearing must specifically state what temporary relief will be addressed such as temporary alimony, temporary child support, etc.
(h) Prior to the scheduled hearing, please ensure that all applicable provisions of Florida Family Law Rule of Procedure 12.285 have been met.
(j) File a Notice of Hearing with the Clerk’s Office and forward a copy to the opposing party or attorney.
If the hearing is a final hearing, you must provide an Order Setting Final Hearing on (state name of Petition or Supplemental Petition and date of filing). See link for the form below.
Parties or their attorneys are advised to request adequate hearing time. Unless stipulated otherwise, each party will be allotted one-half of the total reserved hearing time. Each party’s time will include cross-examination of the other party’s witnesses. Time requested should consider time for preliminary matters, breaks and the Magistrate’s pronouncement.
Parties/attorneys may NOT include additional motions (piggy-back) in already scheduled hearing time without clearing it with the Magistrate’s office and noticing said additional motion in the notice.
For Magistrate McIver’s cases, hearings may be cancelled by the party or attorney who noticed the hearing. If a motion has been cross-noticed, cancellation requires two Notices of Cancellation – one for each Notice and/or from each attorney who noticed the motion. The cancelling party or attorney:
Must notify the Magistrate’s office by phone or email of the cancellation. If the hearing is cancelled for any reason other than the issue being settled, please advise the Magistrate's office of the reason. Failure to provide immediate notice to the General Magistrate's office of the cancellation means that your hearing time cannot be given to others needing to advance their case.
Must file a Notice of Cancellation of Hearing and forward it to opposing party/attorney on a timely basis with a copy emailed to the Magistrate’s office.
It is the responsibility of the attorneys/parties setting a hearing to advise the Magistrate's office of any timely objection to the Order of Referral which cancels the hearing.
Due to the protocol in place by the Chief Judge of the First Judicial Circuit, there are no in-person civil or family law hearings at this time. All hearing will be conducted by Zoom video. You may join a Zoom video hearing from a computer, smartphone, or tablet. using this link: https://zoom.us/j/6789213783. (Meeting ID 678-921-3783). You should try to connect using Wi-Fi as cellular data may not provide sufficient connection speed. You will be prompted upon joining the meeting as to which device you want to use for audio. You may either select “Join with computer audio” to use the built-in microphone and speakers on your device, or you may select “phone call” and dial in on a separate telephone for audio by calling 1-312-626-6799. If you appear by telephone to testify, you must be sworn by a notary public or other individual authorized by law to place a witness under oath. This person must be at your location, or if not at your location, must be able to both see and hear you over an audio video connection for the oath. If you appear by Zoom video conference you will be sworn by the General Magistrate. If you cannot appear by video conference or be sworn in as described above, YOU MUST STILL CALL into the number above to address the reasons why you cannot meet these requirements.
If your video does not automatically turn on upon joining the meeting, you may need to click in the bottom left corner to “Start Video.”
You may join the meeting anytime beforehand to test your speakers and microphone using the built-in test feature. Please be advised that this is a court event and may be digitally recorded. All participants could be recorded from the time your login until you exit.
Evidence to be presented at hearings:
If the parties have any documents they wish to introduce into evidence, such documents should be sent at least five (5) days prior to the hearing to the other party and to the magistrate by email to his assistant at email@example.com. If a party cannot send to the magistrate in this manner, the documents should be filed with the family law clerk of the court or through the e-portal. If attachments are too big to attach you may use wetransfer.com, icloud or some other large file transfer application. Trial exhibits shall be identified by party (R for Respondent and P for Petitioner), letter and page number. For example, the fifth page of Respondent's Exhibit A shall be marked R-A-5. For ease in review, reference and admittance, all exhibits shall be sent/filed separately. For example, if one exhibit is ten pages and another is 20, these exhibits shall be separated and not sent as one file.
For two attorney cases, if you are directed to prepare a Report, the Report must be submitted within two (2) weeks of the date of the hearing. Prior to submitting the report to the Magistrate, the attorney who is designated to prepare the Report shall send the Report to opposing counsel prior to submitting it to the Magistrate. Counsel shall use their best efforts to resolve any disagreement as to the form and content of the Report. When the Report is submitted to the Magistrate, please include a letter indicating the date that the Report was submitted to opposing counsel, method of delivery and whether opposing counsel consents to the entry of the Report. Written objections to the form and content of the proposed Report shall be delivered to the Magistrate within five (5) days of the date of submission of the proposed Report. Counsel submitting a written objection may, but is not required to, submit his or her version of the Report. If requested by the objecting attorney, it is hoped that the attorney who originally drafted the Report will provide the objecting attorney with the Report by email.
You must email the proposed Report and proposed Order on General Magistrate’s Report and Recommendation in word format to the Magistrate’s assistant (firstname.lastname@example.org) with an indication that the email was copied to opposing counsel or pro se party by email or regular U.S. Mail. The report file shall be saved with the parties’ last names, case number, proposed report on… (Ex. Smith 2018 DR 1234 Proposed Report on Contempt). The proposed order shall be saved with the division, parties’ last names case number and proposed order on report… (Ex. YM Smith 2018 DR 1234 Proposed Order on Report on Contempt).
For cases where the other party is pro se, if you are directed to draft the proposed Report, the two (2) week requirement applies. However, the proposed Report and proposed Order/Final Judgment should be provided to the Magistrate with correspondence copied to the opposing party stating that if he or she objects to the form or content of the documents, a written objection detailing how the documents do not comport with the oral pronouncement should be provided to the Magistrate within seven (7) days.
This is not the opportunity for either counsel/party to argue that the Magistrate’s recommendation contacts error of law or fact. Instead, the only issue to be addressed is whether the recommended Order correctly reflects the Magistrate’s oral findings and recommendations.
A party who has not filed a Designation of Current Mailing and E-mail Address and is not receiving court documents by e-mail from the e-portal may opt to receive service of all pleadings by email by registering with the Florida Court’s E-Portal. Attorneys and parties are required to keep their information current (physical address or email address) with the Clerk of Court.
Florida Rule of Civil Procedure 1.490, Florida Probate Rule of Procedure 5.697 and Florida Family Law Rule of Procedure 12.490 provide that the parties have 10 days after the Report is served on them to file exceptions (15 days if service on either party is by mail). If service is by email to both parties, the parties will have 10 days to file exceptions. Thus, even if the Report was signed and mailed the same day as the hearing, it can be fifteen (15) days before the Circuit Judge can enter an Order or Final Judgment approving the Report. If the parties desire to expedite the entry of an enforceable Order or Final Judgment, each party must make such announcement at the hearing or file with the clerk a notice waiving the time period to file exceptions under Rule 1.490(h), 5.697(f) or 12.490(f) and consenting to the Court taking immediate appropriate action on the Report.
Be familiar with Rule 2.425 and Florida Statute §61.13(1)(d)1. A report/order/final judgment addressing parental responsibility and not child support must include the child’s full name and year of birth. A report/order/final judgment addressing child support must include the child’s full name and date of birth. Submitted documents no following the rule or statute will be rejected.
Reports have a Certificate of Service to the attorneys/party signed by the Magistrate’s assistant. Orders/final judgments simply have “copies to”. The Certificate of Service and the “copies to” in addition to names, must list the appropriate email or physical addresses. Submitted documents not following the rule or statute will be rejected. (See forms below).
Reports and Orders are signed electronically with a date and time stamp. Thus, “on this ____ day of ______, 2021” should not be included.
Reports and Orders more than one page should be numbered.
All hearings are electronically recorded, and all Reports must indicate so. If a court reporter was present, the Report must indicate the name and address of the court reporter.
All Reports must indicate the date of the Order of Referral to General Magistrate.
The title of all Reports includes the words, "General Magistrate's Report and Recommendation." Please title the Report properly; for example, "General Magistrate's Report and Recommendation on Wife's Motion for Temporary Support" or "General Magistrate’s Report and Recommendation on Final Hearing of Dissolution of Marriage.”
Do NOT use letter or email correspondence to set forth any substantive matters. Anything other than “Enclosed please find…” should be set forth in a motion, notice, etc.
The purpose of case management conferences is to comply with Rule of Judicial Administration 2.250(a)(1)(C) that establishes “presumptively reasonable” time standards for dissolution of marriage cases. This will be accomplished by scheduling cases for trial within a reasonable time-period, based on their nature and how far along they are in the process.
All parties AND the attorneys representing them are REQUIRED to be present at case management conferences.
Appearance of Attorneys
Florida Rule of Judicial Administration 2.505(e). An attorney may appear in a proceeding: (1) by serving and filing, on behalf of a party, the party’s first pleading or paper in a proceeding; (2) by substitution of counsel; or (3) by filing with the court and serving upon all parties a notice of appearance as counsel for a party that has already appeared in a proceeding pro se or as co-counsel for a party that has already appeared by non-withdrawing counsel.
Motion for Substitution of Counsel:
Florida Rule of Judicial Administration 2.505(e)(2). Attorneys for a party may be substituted at any time by order of court. No substitute attorney shall be permitted to appear in the absence of an order. The client shall be notified in advance of the proposed substitution and shall consent in writing to the substitution and the written consent filed with the court.
Motion for Withdrawal of Counsel:
Florida Rules of Judicial Administration 2.505(f). An attorney shall not be permitted to withdraw from an action unless the withdrawal is approved by the court. The attorney shall file a motion for that purpose stating the reasons for withdrawal and the client's last known address. A copy of the motion shall be served on the client and adverse parties. The motion shall be set for hearing and notice of hearing shall be served on the client and adverse parties.
IN THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE FIRST JUDICIAL CIRCUIT
IN AND FOR ESCAMBIA COUNTY, FLORIDA
FAMILY LAW DIVISION
GENERAL MAGISTRATE’S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
ON (EXACT NAME OF PETITION AND DATE FILED)
THIS MATTER was before the General Magistrate on ___, 2021 for a final hearing. An Order of Referral to General Magistrate was entered on __. No objection to the Order of Referral to General Magistrate was filed. Present in person before the General Magistrate was the Petitioner/ , his/her counsel, ___, the Respondent/ and his/her counsel, ____.
A. Having considered the pleadings, testimony presented and being fully advised in the premises, the General Magistrate makes the following findings of fact:
The Court has jurisdiction over the parties and the subject matter.
(Only insert this language for cases involving children). The Circuit Court in and for Escambia County, Florida is the proper court for the resolution of parental responsibility issues as Florida is the home state of the minor child under the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act. Florida is also the proper forum to address custodial issues under the International Child Abduction Remedies Act, 42 U.S.C. §11601 et seq., the Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act, and the Convention on the Civil Aspects of the International Child Abduction enacted at the Hague on October 25, 1980.
B. The General Magistrate recommends as follows:
WHEREFORE, the undersigned General Magistrate files this Report with the Office of the Clerk and recommends entry of an Order approving the Report.
DONE and Recommended in Chambers in Pensacola, Escambia County.
CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE
I HEREBY certify that this Report and Recommendation was filed with the Clerk of the Court and a copy of the Report and Recommendation was provided to [name of Petitioner or Counsel] at [email or physical address] and to [Respondent or counsel] at [email or physical address] by regular U.S. Mail if a physical address is noted and by submission to the Florida Court’s E-filing Portal if an email address is noted.
Electronic reporting was provided
Reported by: [name and address of court reporter]
IN THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE FIRST JUDICIAL CIRCUIT
IN AND FOR ESCAMBIA COUNTY, FLORIDA
FAMILY LAW DIVISION
ORDER ON (RESTATE NAME OF GENERAL MAGISTRATE’S REPORT)
THIS CAUSE came on to be heard upon the matters referred to the General Magistrate, and the Court having considered the findings and recommendations thereon and being otherwise fully advised in the premises, it is thereupon
ORDERED AND ADJUDGED as follows:
The Report and Recommendation of the General Magistrate signed ______, 2021 is hereby ratified, approved, and incorporated herein.
The Court hereby adopts each and every recommendation contained therein as this Court’s Order and the parties are directed to comply with all terms and conditions as contained in said Report and Recommendation of the General Magistrate.
The Court retains jurisdiction to enforce this Order.
DONE AND ORDERED in Pensacola, Escambia County, Florida.
Petitioner or Counsel (address or email)
Respondent or Counsel (address or email)
 For initial petitions or supplemental petitions, the document should be titled Final Judgment. If children involved and only parenting issues, recite full names and years of birth of children. If also child support, full birthdates. If a final judgment of dissolution, include “the marriage is irretrievably broken and dissolved.” If name change in dissolution, include new name.
M.C. Blanchard Judicial Building
190 Governmental Center - 5th Floor
Pensacola, Florida 32502