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Hillsborough County Clerk of the Court Cuts Hours

Due to budget cuts, the Hillsborough County Clerk of the Court is reducing the hours it will handle court-related services.  Beginning July 1, 2012, the hours were cut to 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.  This will affect the filing and processing of family law (i.e., adoption, divorce, paternity, child support, child custody, name change, etc.) documents.

If you have a Tampa family law case and you wish to scheduled a consultation with a Florida family law attorney, contact The Law Firm of Adam B. Cordover, P.A., at (813) 443-0615 or fill out our online form.

Where In Tampa Bay Can I Get Fingerprinted For My Legal Name Change?

If you want to get your legal name changed in Florida, and you are not getting married or divorced, you will probably need to submit fingerprints for a state and national background check.  Pursuant to Florida Statute section 68.07, the fingerprints must be submitted electronically, and they will be reviewed by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

So where do you submit fingerprints electronically?

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Income Withholding Order

For quite some time, Florida has permitted child support and alimony payments to be deducted directly from a person’s paycheck.  This had been done through an income deduction order authorized by section 61.1301 of the Florida Statutes.

Recently, the federal government mandated that OMB Form 0970-0154 (Income Withholding for Support Order) be used in place of state income deduction forms.  Accordingly, Hillsborough County’s Thirteenth Judicial Circuit has published a packet which includes the federal Income Withholding Order along with the Florida Addendum to the federal order and a Payment Information Sheet.

If you have a matter involving Florida alimony or child support and you are looking to schedule a consultation with a Tampa Bay family law attorney, contact The Law Firm of Adam B. Cordover, P.A., at (813) 443-0615 or by filling out our online form.

Technology and Florida Family Law Courts

The Commentator, which is the official magazine of the Florida Bar Family Law Section, recently published an entire issue dedicated to technology utilized in the practice of family law.  Thirteenth Judicial Circuit Judge Catherine M. Catlin was interviewed in this edition, and she discussed the impact of technology in Hillsborough County Family Law Courts:

Q: What types of technology do you use in your family law courtroom?

Judge Catlin: Almost every family law courtroom in Hillsborough County has been installed with Skype [computer video conferencing software]. Skype allows participants in the litigation proceeding, who are not in the courtroom, to feel like part of the proceeding because they can see the judge and the judge can see them. Using Skype also allows the family law judges to swear in witnesses not in the courtroom so that a notary does not need to be on the witness’s end. We can now do adoptions through Skype or telephone. Also, we are cognizant of the cost of expert witnesses and now expert witnesses can testify through Skype, eliminating the portal to portal fees that most experts charge.

Q: What types of technology do you see attorneys use in your courtroom?

Judge Catlin: I see attorneys play back videos such as video depositions or Children’s Justice Center tapes. Also, attorneys themselves bring their laptops to court to take notes. Other than that, there are not a lot of other types of technology used.

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Florida Clerks of the Court Face Budget Cuts

Florida clerks of the court, like other government agencies, are facing severe budget cuts. Statewide, Clerks of the Court budgets are being slashed by $31 million.  Locally, the Pasco clerk is facing a $825,000 million budge cut, while the Hillsborough clerk is trying to find a way to cope with a haircut in the order of $2 million.

As a result, you can expect a slowdown in the services provided by an already overwhelmed clerk, including the processing of divorce and other family law matters.

The Pasco clerk has published the following notice on its website:

Plasco Clerk Cuts Customer Service Hours

If you have questions regarding Florida divorce and you wish to schedule a consultation with a Tampa Bay family law attorney, contact The Law Firm of Adam B. Cordover, P.A., at (813) 443-0615 or via our online consultation form.

Rights Recognized in Tampa’s Domestic Partnership Registry

As President Obama today expressed his support for gay marriage, the State of Florida continues to define marriage as “a legal union between one man and one woman,” leaving homosexuals in loving relationships in a state of legal limbo.  Attempting to fill in the gap, many local county and municipal governments are passing “domestic partnership registries” which codify certain rights to heterosexual and homosexual partners.  Tampa, for one, has passed an ordinance creating a domestic partnership registry.

Related:  Five Legal Steps Florida LGBT Parents Should Take

[Related:  In A Florida Child Custody Case, Does It Matter That I Am Gay?]

[Related:  In Which County Should I File My Florida Adoption Case?]

Tampa’s domestic partnership law recognizes the following rights for registered partners (to the extent that these rights are not superseded by other laws or ordinances or by contract):

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Hillsborough County Announces New Judicial Assignments

Chief Judge Manuel Menendez, Jr., of the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit of Florida, recently entered Administrative Order A-2012-24, which outlines new judicial assignments for Hillsborough County.  Below are the assignments for the Family Law Division, effective June 25, 2012:

  • Division A – The Honorable Cheryl K. Thomas;
  • Division B – The Honorable Paul L. Huey;
  • Division C – The Honorable Catherine M. Catlin;
  • Division D – The Honorable Daniel H. Sleet;
  • Division E – The Honorable Nick Nazaretian;
  • Division F – The Honorable Caroline J. Tesche; and
  • Division Y (Title IV-D Child Support Enforcement) – The Honorable Herbert M. Berkowitz.
We welcome Judge Nazaretian and Judge Berkowitz to the Family Law community.

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Team Cordover Runs the Hillsborough County Bar Association’s Race to the Courthouse

On March 24, 2012, I was joined by friends and family to run Hillsborough County Bar Association’s Race to the Courthouse 5K as “Team Cordover.”  The race began at Stetson University’s Tampa campus and benefitted pro bono services throughout Hillsborough County.

Team Cordover at the HCBA 5K Race

Front Row, L to R:  Jake Biller, Marcy Biller, Jamie Gomez, Kasey Biller, Laurie Strauss, Jenn Ryerson, and Mike Biller

Back Row, L to R:  T.J. Reese, George Melendez, Adam B. Cordover, Troy Finney, Nikki Finney, and Jacob Finney

I am especially proud of T.J. Reese, Jake Biller, and Jacob Finney.  These Team Cordover members swept the category of males age 15-19, placing in first, second, and third place, respectively.

L to R:   Jake Biller, T.J. Reese, and Jacob Finney

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Appellate Judges Discuss Collaborative Divorce in Meeting of Hillsborough and Pinellas Family Law Attorneys and Judges

I recently had the opportunity to attend a joint meeting of the Tampa Bay Family Law Inn of Court and Pinellas County’s Canakaris Inn of Court.  The guest speakers were three judges from Florida’s Second District Court of Appeals:  Chris Altenbernd, Edward C. LaRose, and Robert Morris.  I had the opportunity to discuss collaborative divorce with the appellate judges.  The following excerpt of a Collaborative Divorce Institute of Tampa Bay article describes a portion of the meeting and my discussions:

 Judge Chris Altenbernd (who served as chief judge from 2003-2005) observed that, by the time divorce and paternity cases reach the appellate level, both parties have almost invariably already lost:

“You have families that are being torn apart, and the parties are arguing often for the sake of arguing, not putting children’s issues and the families’ financial future first.”

Judges Edward C. LaRose and Robert Morris agreed.

The Second D.C.A.'s Judge Chris Altenbernd and CDITB Membership Chair Adam B. Cordover Discuss Collaborative Divorce (April 4, 2012)

The Second D.C.A.’s Judge Chris Altenbernd and CDITB Membership Chair Adam B. Cordover Discuss Collaborative Divorce (April 4, 2012)

Judge LaRose then asked the attorneys in the audience whether collaborative practice was being utilized in Pinellas and Hillsborough counties. Collaborative Divorce Institute of Tampa Bay membership chair Adam B. Cordover answered their question. “The practice of collaborative family law is growing in Tampa Bay. Last year, the Collaborative Divorce Institute of Tampa Bay provided training to instruct more attorneys, mental health professionals, and financial experts on how to handle collaborative divorce cases in a way that is private, individually-tailored, respectful, and takes into account the best interests of any children involved.  In short, we collaborative professionals are carrying out the ideal of ‘therapeutic jurisprudence.’”

Judge Altenbernd later relayed to Mr. Cordover that he supports the collaborative process, especially in divorce cases where issues of child custody and parenting plans are involved.  ”I just think more people need to seriously consider the family-focused process of collaborative divorce rather than fight it out in the court system.”

Attorney Adam B. Cordover has completed advanced training in interdisciplinary collaborative family law.  He is on the Board of the Collaborative Divorce Institute of Tampa Bay and is a member of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals.

If you have questions regarding collaborative divorce and you wish to speak with a Tampa Bay collaborative attorney, contact The Law Firm of Adam B. Cordover, P.A., at (813) 443-0615 or by completing our online form.

Hillsborough Clerk Provides Update to e-Filing Status

I’ve recently been writing about e-Filing in Tampa Bay Family Law cases.  Many attorneys, like myself, are pushing for swift and comprehensive implementation of e-Filing (the option of filing documents electronically through the internet rather than sending a paper copy to the physical location of the clerk of the court) because, as I wrote in a previous post regarding the related concept of a “paperless office,”

money is saved on paper and postage; space is saved from bulky file cabinets; trees are saved from being cut down; and time is saved by quick transmittal of documents via e-mail.  This usually also translates to savings for the customer or client.

It looks like Hillsborough County is targeting July 2012 to implement e-Filing for family law cases.  From the Hillsborough Clerk of the Court:

 In 2009, the Florida Legislature enacted Chapter 2009-61, Laws of Florida, mandating that the Supreme Court of Florida create statewide standards for electronic filing of court documents.  Governor Charlie Crist signed the bill into law.  On July 1 of that year, the Florida Supreme Court responded with Supreme Court Administrative Order 09-30, which outlined the first set of statewide standards for electronic filing of court documents.  One of the standards required that a portal be created through which electronically filed court documents could be sent.  The standards are outlined for all 67 Clerks of Court in the State of Florida to follow to implement electronic filing of court documents.

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