Why Is My Case Before a General Magistrate Instead of a Judge?

A gavel in front of law books

In many family law actions, the cases may be referred to a general magistrate. This may be done by the clerk of the court, by one of the parties, or an attorney on the case. The main reason for such a referral is due to the overload in cases presented before a judge, and the more open schedule of a general magistrate. Typically, you ask for a referral on temporary hearings that need to be resolved in a time efficient manner. For instance, if you are seeking temporary alimony or a temporary time sharing plan you would like these items to be determined in weeks time rather than months. Therefore, with a more open schedule you may wish to have your case heard before a general magistrate on these certain topics. You can discuss with your Florida Divorce Attorney in detail the general magistrate differences, as well as the possibility of your case before one.

A general magistrate is a certified attorney who has been appointed by a judge and given powers to take testimony, evidence, hold hearings, and then provide a formal recommendation to be reviewed by the judge assigned to your case. In general, magistrates are used to speed up the process of a divorce proceeding as their schedules typically have more availability for hearings. If you and your Florida Divorce Attorney decide, it is in your best interest to request a hearing before a magistrate you may file a Motion for Referral to General Magistrate paired with an Order of Referral to General Magistrate to be signed by the judge pending their approval. In some cases, the clerk may automatically refer cases to the magistrate due to the orders and procedures of their specific circuit. Therefore, if you wish to be removed from the general magistrate’s docket, your attorney will file an objection to this referral within 10 days, as you are entitled by law to have your case be heard by a judge.

After a hearing in front of a general magistrate, they will draft a formal report that has a recommendation as to the court’s final order. Each party will receive this report and recommendation and you have the opportunity to file an objection to this recommendation within 10 days and asking for a hearing before the judge. However, it is important to remember that the judge does remain in full control of your case whether you have been referred to a general magistrate for a hearing or not. They will review the recommendation and evidence of the general magistrate and can determine accordingly their decision on the case.  

Discuss your needs and the timeline of your case with your Florida Divorce Attorney. After an open discussion of your desires, together, you may agree that you should file a Motion for Referral to General Magistrate to hear and fulfill some of your temporary needs and concerns. Your Florida Divorce Attorney can describe the duties and responsibilities of the general magistrate to you in depth to ensure you are aware of their function in your divorce proceedings.

Speaking to an attorney at our Florida office is free of charge, and we accept calls 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Contact us at 850-307-5211 or complete an online contact form to get in touch with a member of our team today.

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