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Tampa Bay Clerks of Court Return to Regular Service Hours

Thanks to a 7% increase in the budget for Florida clerks of the court, Tampa area clerks will increase their hours beginning October 1, 2012.  According to the Tampa Bay Times, the seven percent increase restores the amount that was cut from the statewide clerk budget in the spring, when office hour were reduced.

These extended office hours will allow Tampa Bay clerks to tackle the current backlog and hopefully help family law cases to be processed faster.

The local clerks’ new office hours (Monday through Friday, excluding holidays) are listed below:

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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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Tampa Bay Clerks of the Court Slow to Implement e-Filing

You may have heard of the term “paperless office,” where documents are stored on networks and hard drives rather than in physical drawers and filing cabinets.  The advantages of the paperless office over traditional means of storing documents include the following: 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.

Well, the Florida Courts have set their sights on a paperless court system.  This starts out with e-filing (the filing of documents via the internet rather than dropping off paper copies).  e-Filing began through Florida’s e-Filing Portal in January 2012, and the clerks of the Court have set a goal to have all counties accepting e-filing for their civil (non-criminal) divisions through the Portal by July 1, 2012.

Many counties have been quick to implement e-filing through the Portal.  In fact, according to a presentation provided at the February 1, 2012, e-Filing Authority Board Meeting, 41 counties now accept at least some filing electronically through the portal.  Polk County is included in these counties, though it does not yet accept e-filing for family law cases.

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Hillsborough County Intends to Implement e-Filing by March 2012

Members of the Florida Bar have long been making the case for e-filing, or the ability to file documents through the internet rather than filing a physical copy with the clerk of the court.  E-filing holds the promise of reducing the time and costs associated with interacting with the clerk.  The Florida Supreme Court authorized e-filing through the Florida Court’s e-filing portal, which became active for some counties on January 1, 2011.

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Family Law Filing Fees in Polk County

I previous wrote about filing fees in Hernando CountyHillsborough CountyPinellas CountyPasco County, and Sarasota County.  In this post I review current filing fees in the Tenth Judicial Circuit, Polk County, for common family law matters.  A person who initiates a family law case (the “Petitioner”) will pay the following:

  • Adoption- $400.00*
  • Child Custody (non-divorce)- $300.00**
  • Child Support (non-divorce)- $300.00**
  • Divorce (includes recording and reporting of final judgment)- $408.00**
  • Name Change- $400.00*
  • Paternity- $300.00**
  • Temporary Custody by Extended Family Member- $400.00*

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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.