Can I Attend Court Hearings by Phone?

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It is a well-known fact that if you are a party to a case, your presence at a hearing or trial is imperative. However, physical presence may not be necessary. Recent developments in the legal system have allowed different avenues for the “presence” requirement to be satisfied in court cases. If you are unable to attend a hearing in person, discuss the options available to you with your Orlando Divorce Attorney prior to your hearing.

Under Rule 1.451 of Florida Civil Procedure, when the testimony of an individual is taken during a trial, they must be physically present. However, the same rule does provide some exceptions and regulations. If both parties agree to the physical absence replaced with an electronic presentation, the court may permit the testimony and physical absence. However, even if both parties are unable to agree, the court may permit the absence upon a written motion for good cause.

This motion is labeled as Motion for Telephonic Appearance. This motion will list the date of the hearing, the type of hearing, if the other party consents or objects to the electronic appearance, the substance of the testimony to be given, the estimated time necessary, and the good cause shown to permit this electronic appearance. To determine good cause the court is directed to consider many different factors including: the type of proceeding, constitutional rights, the significance of the testimony and individual, the cost or inconvenience of the physical presence, the loss of ability to observe the individual and contribute to their credibility, or any other factors that the court finds reasonably compelling. This motion must be filed within a reasonable time before the hearing. This time restriction allows the opposing party 10 days to object to the motion, and the court time to make a timely ruling.

If the court approves the electronic appearance, the appearance must be done through the use of audio or video technology. With the development of skype, zoom, and other video meeting platforms, many courts prefer the use of video technology to allow the party to be seen during their testimony. Finally, if you are appearing at a hearing through the use of technology, you must have an individual with you who is authorized to swear you in under oath prior to your testimony.

If you have concern about your ability to attend a hearing physically, or have significant justification for absence at an upcoming hearing, contact your Orlando Divorce Attorney immediately to ensure a motion is filed on your behalf if a timely manner. Further, before making the decision to appear electronically, discuss with your attorney the effects it may have on your case as well as the benefits you may draw from being present at the hearing. With your Orlando Divorce Attorney’s experience, they will be able to provide you with the knowledge necessary to make an informed decision.

Speaking to an attorney at our Orlando office is free of charge, and we accept calls 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Contact us at 407-512-0887 or complete an online contact form to get in touch with a member of our team today.

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