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You are here: Judicial Directory > Chet A. Tharpe > Procedures/Preferences

Procedures/Preferences

 

For Domestic Relations/Family Law matters, before contacting the Court please review the policies set forth in Administrative Order S-2016-056, Family Law Procedures.

 

For Adoptions/Termination of Parental Rights matters, before contacting the Court please review the policies set forth in Administrative Order S-2015-048, Adoption Procedures. 

 

For Civil matters, before contacting the Court please review the policies set forth in Administrative Order S-2016-061, General Civil Division Procedures.

 

Important Information If You Don’t Have a Lawyer

 

In cases where both parties do not have counsel, court dates are scheduled only through Case Manager, Ms. Wolfgang, not the Judge’s office. All questions about these cases, or requests for hearing time, should be directed to Ms. Wolfgang at (813) 272-6189.

 

Proposed Orders

 

Agreed Orders 

 

Proposed orders may be submitted via the Judicial Automated Workflow System (“JAWS”) in PDF format if both parties are represented by counsel, there is no objection to the form of the order, and it is no more than approximately 5 pages in length. Final Judgments, or other orders with attachments, should be submitted via U.S. Mail. *Please note, for proposed orders submitted via JAWS each item for which a signature is required should be uploaded separately. The cover letter and motion/stipulation should be uploaded as one PDF in the cover letter category and the proposed order should be uploaded in the proposed order category. 

 

Proposed orders may also be submitted via U.S. Mail with a cover letter, sufficient copies, and envelopes with postage to facilitate service to all parties, however, please do not submit orders by duplicate means. Proposed orders should not be submitted via email unless requested by the Court. 

 

This Court will no longer hold orders awaiting objections (or lack thereof) from opposing attorney or opposing self-represented party. Please submit the proposed order when it has been approved by both sides. If both sides cannot reach an agreement, please set a hearing. 

 

Competing Orders 

 

Competing proposed orders will only be accepted and reviewed when solicited by the Court. Competing orders or orders to which the opposing party objects must not be submitted through JAWS. 

 

Other Orders 

 

A Final Disposition Form must be submitted at the time of submission of a final order or judgment to the Court. 

 

For entry of an IWO or QDRO, please submit a copy of the order or judgment tabbed with the specific provision referencing the IWO or QDRO along with the proposed order. IWOs and QDROs are only to be submitted by U.S. Mail or hand-delivery.

 

Any order granting an attorney's motion to withdraw under Florida Rule of Judicial Administration 2.505(f)(l) must include a statement that the party whose attorney is withdrawing is obligated to provide the Court and the opposing attorney or opposing self-represented party a written notice of any change to the party's mailing address, telephone number, and e-mail address (if available) if the party intends to remain self-represented.

 

Associate Counsel/Parties on JAWS

 

Attorneys must be associated on JAWS. To associate an attorney click the “Attorneys (JAWS) / Manage Email Contacts” tab then go to the “Search Parties” box on the top right of the page. Choose the attorney and associate them to the case by choosing which party they are affiliated with. When you do this it adds the attorney name on the Judge’s daily docket so the Judge and bailiff know who is appearing in Court.

 

The “Email addresses” box on the left bottom of the screen is for other interested parties (paralegals not on the attorneys JAWS profile, pro se parties, GALs, ect.). Attorneys don’t need to be added here if they are associated through the “Search Parties” box as mentioned above. By adding an interested party to the “Email addresses” box they will receive case event notifications and orders signed through JAWS but are not specifically listed on the Judge’s daily docket.

 

To disassociate an attorney use may use the “Submit an Issue” tab through JAWS or send an email to the Judicial Assistant. Include the case name, case number, the counsel/party whom should be disassociated, and why. To stop the JAWS notifications, you must also disassociate the attorney from the e-filing portal.

 

Mediation

 

All contested family and civil matters/issues may be referred to mediation. Every effort shall be made to expedite mediation. Mediation is a prerequisite to scheduling a hearing before the presiding Judge or a general magistrate and is required for Dissolution of Marriage, Paternity, Post-Judgment, and Temporary Relief matters (includes motions for exclusive use and motions for temporary attorney’s fees, when attorney’s fees exceed $50,000.00) unless the Court finds there has been a history of domestic violence that would compromise the mediation process or if the Department of Revenue is active on the case.

 

For temporary relief matters, the temporary relief mediation conference must be held within six (6) months of the request for hearing time or the parties must attend another mediation conference. 

 

General Magistrates and Hearing Officers

 

Any family law matter may be referred by the Court to a General Magistrate. All post-judgment family law matters, excluding Title IV-D child support issues, will be referred by the Court to a General Magistrate. Contemporaneous with the filing of any post-judgment family law petition and every motion (except motions to dismiss and for rehearing or clarification following entry of an order or judgment signed by this Court), the counsel/party filing the matter must file and serve on all parties either (1) a Motion for Order of Referral to General Magistrate, or (2) an Objection to Referral to General Magistrate, which obviates the need for an order of referral being entered. Pursuant to Rule 12.490(b), Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure, (A) A written objection to the referral to a general master must be filed within ten (10) days of the service of the Order of Referral; (B) If the time set for the hearing is less than ten (10) days after service of the Order of Referral, the objection must be filed before commencement of the hearing; (C) If the order of referral is served within the first twenty (20) days after the service of the initial process, the time to file an objection is extended to the time within which to file a responsive pleading. If an objection is timely filed, the matter will remain to be heard by the presiding Judge in the respective division. If an objection is not filed within or prior to the allotted timeframe the petition/motion must be heard by a General Magistrate, except that, when a General Magistrate is acting as a Child Support Enforcement Hearing Officer where the sole issue is the enforcement or modification of non-Title IV-D child support. Referral of enforcement or modification of non-Title IV-D child support matters to the child support enforcement hearing officers under Rule 12.491 does not require the consent of any party and therefore a party may not lodge any objection to the automatic referral.

 

Emergency Motions 

 

1.    No party or attorney should file an emergency motion without first studying Smith v. Crider, 932 So.2d 393 (2d DCA April 7, 2006). The Court understands that parties involved in litigation are often under considerable emotional strain and genuinely believe many situations confronting them are emergencies. However, the Court’s expects attorneys to exercise independent professional judgment, respect the seriousness of emergency procedures, and refrain from filing frivolous emergency requests even if instructed to do so by a client. 

2.    File the original motion with the Clerk of Circuit Court. 

3.    The Clerk will bring the docketed motion to the Judge’s chambers for review.

4.    The Judicial Assistant will call, email, or mail a copy of the Judge’s decision regarding the emergency status of the motion to both parties.

Abatement, Consolidation, and Requests for Continuance

 

Abatement, consolidation, and requests to continue a hearing must be sought by motion, not merely by submitting a stipulation and proposed order. 

 

Motions to abate must state the basis for the request to abate, and whether any previous requests to abate have been granted. 

 

Motions to consolidate must describe the status of the two cases and why you believe the consolidation is appropriate. 

 

Motions for continuance must be signed by the litigant requesting the continuance as well as the litigant’s attorney, unless made at trial, or good cause shown.

 

Appearance by Telephone 

 

The court does not allow telephonic appearances for CMC hearings.
All telephonic appearances are done through CourtCall.

1 (888) 882-6878 www.courtcall.com You have to reserve the telephonic appointment by 3:00pm EST the day prior to hearing. Attorneys will be assigned a different dial-in number once they have scheduled their appearance through CourtCall.

 

To request a telephonic appearance for a scheduled hearing, please file a motion and submit a proposed Order. Motions must include who will be appearing by telephone, the other party’s agreement of the same, the type of hearing, duration of hearing, and amount of telephonic appearances previously requested. If a party or witness is approved to appear by phone to testify they must have a notary public in their presence to swear them in over the telephone.

 

Appearance by Skype

 

Appearance by Skype is currently unavailable.

 

Temporary Relief Matters 

 

Hearing Prerequisites of Moving Party

 

The party seeking temporary relief must: 

1.    File with the clerk and serve on the opposing attorney or opposing self-represented party the appropriate Uniform Motion for Temporary Relief which may be accessed at http://www.fljud13.org/Forms.aspx;

2.    Attach to the motion a proposed temporary time-sharing plan if the case involves a minor child or minor children;

3.    Attach, if not previously filed, a financial affidavit in compliance with Rule 12.285(c)(l);

4.    Schedule a temporary relief mediation conference (must be held within six (6) months prior to the date of the scheduling request);

5.    Prior to the temporary relief mediation conference, serve on the opposing attorney or opposing self-represented party, but do not file with the clerk, the mandatory financial documents required under Rule 12.285(c)(2)-(4).

Hearing Prerequisites of Responding Party

The responding party must:

1.    Within ten (10) days after being served with the Motion for Temporary Relief (fifteen (15) days if service was made by mail), the party against whom the temporary relief is being sought is required to file and serve a response to the motion stating what, if any, temporary relief the responding party contends is appropriate.

2.    When applicable, the responding party will propose an alternate time-sharing plan.

3.    Attach to the response, if not previously filed, a financial affidavit in compliance with Rule 12.285(c)(l);

4.    Prior to the temporary relief mediation conference, the responding party must serve upon the opposing party, but not file with the clerk or send to the Judge, the documents required in Rule 12.285(c)(2)-(4).

5.    Any temporary relief sought by the responding party may be asserted by cross-motion.

Temporary Relief Mediation must be held within six (6) months from the date of the scheduling request. Temporary relief matters must be mediated prior to being heard by the Court.

 

If the relief sought includes temporary attorney's fees, the seeking party must file an attorney's fee affidavit at least seven (7) business days before the hearing. The attorney's fee affidavit must set forth fees and costs to date and anticipated hours, fees and costs reasonably expected to be incurred through the final hearing.

 

At least seventy-two (72) hours prior to the scheduled temporary relief hearing, the parties will exchange exhibits and each will file and serve a Temporary Relief Hearing Memorandum. Failure to comply with the above provisions will result in cancellation of the hearing. 

 

Guidelines for Scheduling Hearings

 

All scheduling is through email communication only. To schedule a hearing, send a request for hearing dates to zielinlj@fljud13.org. Please be sure the case name and number are indicated in the subject line and all counsel or self-represented parties are copied on all correspondence. Our office cannot communicate with either party on an ex parte basis.

 

Counsel and parties shall assure they have met with the mediation and General Magistrate requirements prior to contacting the Court or reserving hearing time through JAWS.

 

WHEN YOU SCHEDULE A HEARING – ONCE CONFIRMED, PREPARE AND FILE A NOTICE OF HEARING NOTIFYING ALL PARTIES AND FURNISH A COPY TO THE JUDGE’S OFFICE WITHIN 24 HOURS.

 

PLEASE NOTE:  RESPONSES TO MOTIONS AND COPIES OF CASE LAW MUST BE DELIVERED TO THIS COURT FIVE (5) BUSINESS DAYS BEFORE THE HEARING TO ENABLE A REVIEW BY THE COURT. ANY RESPONSES TO MOTIONS AND COPIES OF CASE LAW DELIVERED TO THIS COURT LESS THAN FIVE (5) BUSINESS DAYS BEFORE THE HEARING WILL NOT BE REVIEWED OR CONSIDERED AT THE HEARING.

 

Attorneys must set open docket, uncontested, fifteen-minute, and thirty-minute hearings themselves through JAWS; the Judicial Assistant does not set these hearings. Any other type of hearing is set by the Judicial Assistant. (ie: Case Management Conferences, hearings 1-hour or more, TPR/Adoption hearings, and UCCJEA Conferences). Please email the Judicial Assistant for hearing times at zielinlj@fljud13.org .

 

Hearing times may not be scheduled through JAWS prior to filing a written motion or other pleading for which the hearing is needed; attorneys are not permitted to reserve hearing times through JAWS first and then file a motion afterward. 

 

Attorneys are not permitted to “stack” consecutive hearing times to obtain longer hearings in the same case, but they may set hearings in different cases on the same day.

 

There will be no cross-noticing on hearing time or "piggybacking" one motion upon a previously scheduled motion without timely notice to the parties and the Court. No "piggybacked" motion will be heard unless it is determined by the Court that the docket will accommodate the hearing of the additional matters at the scheduled time. The motions will be heard in the order in which they are scheduled.

 

If the requesting attorney or self-represented party sends the dates to the opposing attorney or opposing self-represented party by email, the responding self-represented party or an attorney or a representative in the attorney's office must respond via email within two (2) business days of receipt of the request. If the responding party or attorney fails to respond via email within two (2) business days, the requesting party may select the hearing date and time of his or her choice. 

 

If counsel/parties cannot agree on a date from the first set of dates offered, the Judicial Assistant will provide a second set of dates or counsel may obtain them through JAWS. If counsel/parties cannot agree on a date from the second set of dates offered, please email the Judicial Assistant of the scheduling impasse and the Court will unilaterally set a date. If there is no opposing counsel you must coordinate with the pro se party, by phone or email.

 

Hearings set in violation of these guidelines are subject to cancellation by the Court.

 

Attorney Case Management Conference

 

Case Management Conferences are set by the Court. If you would like to request a Case Management Conference, please file a motion and send a courtesy copy to the Judicial Assistant by email with a request for available dates. Due to the high volume at Case Management Conferences, motions are not permitted to be added to the scheduled time. If your client has a conflict and cannot attend the Case Management Conference in person its preferred counsel appear and the clients appearance be waived rather than having them appear by telephone. To request such, please file a motion and submit a proposed order.

 

Either Party may move the Court for entry of an order continuing the first Case Management Conference to a later date by sending to the Judge's chambers a jointly-signed statement and Order approving same that states: (1) service of process has been effectuated and an Answer or responsive pleading has been filed; (2) both parties have exchanged Financial Affidavits, complied fully with mandatory disclosure requirements and have filed proposed Child Support Guidelines Worksheet; (3) if there are minor children, that both parties have completed the parenting course and filed their Certificates of Completion; (4) that mediation has been completed or is scheduled and will not be canceled except by Order of Court; (5) the date and time of the new Case Management Conference that has been provided by the Judicial Assistant and cleared by both parties, which conference shall be within 60-90 days of the originally-scheduled date.

 

A case management conference may only be canceled if (1) the case settles prior to the date of the case management conference; (2) the written settlement agreement is provided to the presiding Judge; and (3) the presiding Judge authorizes the cancellation. A final disposition form and final judgment must be submitted to the court within 10 days of the cancellation, if no hearing is required to prove the elements of the case. If a hearing is required to prove the elements of the case, the case management conference will be used for the final hearing unless an earlier date is cleared and properly calendared.

 

Uniform Motion Calendar (UMC)/Open Docket 

 

The Court encourages parties to address matters on its Uniform Motion Calendar/Open Docket whenever possible. The Uniform Motion Calendar/Open Docket is for short, routine, non-evidentiary hearings up to seven (7) minutes in length for family law cases and up to ten (10) minutes in length for civil cases. You may set uncontested final hearings, motions to compel discovery, motions for protective orders, motions to withdraw, motions to continue, et cetera, on the UMC/Open Docket. Complex matters will not be heard.

 

Attorneys must set Uniform Motion Calendar/Open Docket hearings themselves through JAWS.

 

Uncontested Final Hearing Docket

 

Uncontested Final Hearings should be scheduled on the Uncontested Final Hearing Docket, Case Management Docket, or Uniform Motion Calendar/Open Docket.

 

15-Minute and 30-Minute Hearings

 

Hearing time is generally available in 15-minute, and 30-minute increments several days a month. Uncontested divorce finalizations should not be set for 15 minute hearings, unless approved by the Judicial Assistant. Final hearings after default should be set on the 15-minute or 30-minute docket.

 

Attorneys must set 15-minute and 30-minute hearings themselves through JAWS.

 

Exhibits for evidentiary hearings must be redacted to protect confidential information.

 

Hearings 1-Hour or More

 

These hearings may not be set through JAWS. For hearing requests exceeding 1-hour in length, for matters other than final hearing, please submit a request for hearing dates by letter and advise as to the issues at hand, proposed witnesses, and why you are requesting that amount of time. Attorneys are encouraged to supplement the record with appropriate written materials as much as possible to save hearing time. All hearings over two (2) hours must be set by Court order.

 

Family Law Temporary Relief Hearings

1.    Family law temporary relief hearings are generally limited to 1-hour absent extraordinary circumstances and prior approval of the Court.

2.    The moving party must schedule and cooperate in attending mediation prior to the temporary hearing. If this does not happen, the hearing will be canceled by the Court. If the non-moving party is the party not cooperating, that matter will be addressed by the Court at the temporary hearing and sanctions may be entered.

3.    At least seventy-two (72) hours prior to the temporary relief hearing, the moving party will file an original and serve a copy on all parties, including the Judge, a Temporary Relief Hearing Memorandum. A proposed Parenting Plan is required if the case involves minor children.

Termination of Parental Rights/Adoption Hearings

 

To set a hearing on any Termination of Parental Rights/Adoption Proceeding, the requesting attorney or self-represented party should email the Judicial Assistant for hearing time and copy the opposing attorney or opposing self-represented party. Specify the case style, case number, and type of matter. Petitioner(s) must file all documents required by The Florida Adoption Act, Chapter 63, Florida Statutes, at least twenty-one (21) days in advance of the scheduled final hearing. Failure to file any required documents at least twenty-one (21) days in advance of the final hearing may result in the cancellation of the hearing.

 

Cancellation of Hearings

 

Notices of Cancellation are to be filed and copied to the Judge’s office or, if last minute or an emergency basis, information to be relayed verbally and by email to Judicial Assistant.

 

Bench Trials and Final Hearings

 

For Bench Trial and Final Hearing requests over 2-hours, if all requirements have been satisfied and the parties have mediated and reached an impasse, the requesting attorney or self-represented party, should request dates directly from the presiding Judge at the next scheduled Case Management Conference. If there is not an upcoming Case Management Conference scheduled please email the Judicial Assistant for available dates. In all cases in which a trial is scheduled for more than two (2) hours, a pretrial conference is required. ALL MOTIONS MUST BE FILED AND HEARD BY THE COURT BEFORE THE PRE-TRIAL CONFERENCE.  

 

Jury Trials

 

Cases are set for jury trial by the Judge. When a case is set for trial a specific trial week and designated pretrial conference date and time will be given by the Judicial Assistant, or by the Judge at a status conference.

 

Because jurors are only summoned to the George Edgecomb Courthouse in downtown Tampa, all jury selections must take place at that location, not Plant City. It's up to the Court's discretion whether the trial will be held in Plant City following day 1 of trial.