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Enforcement: Support Awards From Different Florida Counties

If a circuit court in Miami-Dade county ordered a parent to pay child support, that order may be enforced in Pinellas, Hillsborough, Polk, Hernando, Manatee, or any other county in Florida (so long as one party lives in that county). Along the same lines, alimony awards entered in one Florida county may be enforced in another Florida county.

Section 61.17, Florida Statutes, provides the basis for such enforcement.

Am I Required to Attend a Parenting Course?

Section 61.21 of the Florida Statutes requires each party in a case that involves children and custody/time-sharing issues to attend a four-hour parenting course.  This “Parent Education and Family Stabilization Course” gives parents the opportunity to learn about, among other topics, how their court action may affect the emotional well-being of their children.

You should note that, except in very limited circumstances, a judge will not enter a final judgment until both parties have (i) attended the course and (ii) filed a certificate of completion with the clerk of the court.

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Courtroom Civility

It is always a good rule of thumb to be respectful when entering a courtroom.  I often find myself taken aback by the appearance and behavior of people as they are asking a judge to make a major decision on serious issues–such as divorce, child support, alimony, or time-sharing–in their lives.  Many people come in shorts, chew gum, and treat the courtroom like their living room.  Such behavior leaves a poor impression on the judge and may impact the outcome of their matter.

The Family Law Division of the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit (Hillsborough County), like many courts around Florida, has a code of conduct: The Twelve Rules of Courtroom Civility.  Most of these rules are simply about common courtesy, and include the following instructions:

  • Other than to make appropriate objections, do not interrupt anyone when he or she is speaking;
  • Do not make faces or gestures at the opposing party or his or her attorney;
  • Dress appropriately and wear clean clothes.  Specifically, you should not enter a courtroom in shorts, jeans, a t-shirt, or sneakers; and
  • Do not bring any food or beverages in the courtroom, and do not chew gum.

To maximize the chances of a successful outcome in your matter, become familiar with the rules and procedures of both your circuit and your specific judge.