Why Has My Case Been Referred To A Magistrate?
In Florida divorce cases, a general magistrate is sometimes appointed by a judge to hear testimony and recommend decisions on certain issues associated with a divorce in order to promote judicial efficiency. This magistrate is always an attorney, and the judge reviews these recommendations and typically approves them. Magistrate referrals are typically done for issues that would take too long for a judge to get to, such as alimony or child support and/or if one of the parties is not represented by an attorney.
Magistrates are empowered to perform all of the duties under the direction of the court except those related to injunctions for protection against domestic, repeat, dating, and sexual violence, as well as stalking. General magistrates can administer oaths, conduct hearings, and take evidence, which they then file in a report that includes findings of facts and conclusions of law (alongside their recommendations for the judge). In some Florida counties, the courts also schedule case management conferences to be held by a general magistrate.
Can I Object?
A referral to a general magistrate requires the consent of all parties, and you are always entitled to have your case heard by a judge instead. In order to object to the magistrate referral, you must file a written objection within 10 days of the time of service of the applicable order (the order the judge signs referring the case to the magistrate). However, this also means that any relevant hearings will be postponed to correlate with the judge’s calendar.
Can I See the Magistrate’s Report?
Yes, the report and order are sent to the relevant parties and you can object or file for an “exception” to the report. As with an objection, the parties have 10 days to file these exceptions with the court and request a hearing with a judge instead. It is generally a good idea to go over the magistrate’s report with an experienced attorney to ensure that it complies with Florida law and reflects the facts of the case.
What Are The Benefits?
Sometimes your attorney will request that the case be referred to a general magistrate for the sake of efficiency, particularly if you need issues related to alimony and property distribution (such as use of the family home) decided sooner rather than later. Conversely, if the other party would rather have delay in the case, they will sometimes specifically object to the magistrate referral.
Contact the Family Law Offices of Sandra Bonfiglio
When you have family law concerns, you want an attorney who will listen to your concerns, provide you with options, and help you through the entire process. At the Fort Lauderdale law offices of Sandra Bonfiglio, P.A., we are here to help you. Contact us today at our office in Fort Lauderdale.