If you are getting divorced or fighting for child custody you may have received a notice informing you that your case is being handled by a magistrate instead of a judge. Many people are confused as to what a magistrate is and what authority they have under the law. In this article we plan to answer those questions.
Judges can end up with overloaded dockets and enlist help with the case load. He or she will often refer the case to a general magistrate. The magistrate is often an attorney themselves who has been trained in law. Think of the magistrate as an assistant to the judge who can rule on certain matters. A magistrate has specific limited powers such as deciding on temporary matters until the divorce is granted. The magistrate is essentially a stop gap measure to help move the case along.
After the magistrate has presided over your case and has issued a ruling, you have ten days under Florida law to file exceptions with the court and ask for a hearing with a judge. The filing party must obtain a transcript of the hearing themselves to present to the judge along with the exceptions.
Often, during the busiest times of the year (or with judges in short supply) you will receive a notice that a magistrate is presiding over your case. This is not a bad thing and you shouldn’t feel slighted. It is important to have good communication with your attorney and they will explain to you the exact process.
If you are planning to file for a divorce and are seeking alimony or child support, having a qualified and experienced attorney is a good idea. Even if you are filing an uncontested divorce you can hire an attorney to help you both reach an agreement and file together. This type of law is called collaborative law. Our attorneys specialize in this type of law as well as contested divorces.