Judge Renee Goldenberg Circuit Court Judge

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Not similarly situated

        1. Emergencies different

        1. 1/16/14: Joint Hearings or Trials: Fla Fam L R P 12.003(b); Filing Copies of Orders in Related Cases: Fla Fam L R P 12.006; Confidentiality: 12.007; 12.271

    1. Best practice Outline: “ONE STOP SHOP” (including emergencies): Ask judge to assist (bring law and rules, an outline and checklist)

    1. CMT: Case management, mediation, final hearing (uncontested or trial)

      1. Ask judge for case management conference in conjunction with emergency or other hearing: 17th Judicial Circuit Family Division Case Management Order

          1. Case Management Conference (ordered with setting of emergency too)

          1. Assumes lawyer compliance with case management order

          1. Client appearance in person or by telephone (by telephone only if full compliance)

      1. Ask judge to have all forms completed right then: Bring checklist of what is missing and all applicable Supreme Court forms not completed prior to emergency hearing and blanks for other side

      1. Ask judge to construe pro se letter as answer and

correct pleadings deficiencies: case to be “at issue”

      1. Designation of Current Mailing and Email Address: Fla Fam L R P Form 12.915

      1. Ask judge to explain law and rules. Bring checklist of statutes, rules, and caselaw that applies, copies of law and rules: ask judge to conduct hearings and trial in order of factors

      1. Ask Judge to triage:

        1. mandatory appointment of guardian ad litem

        1. attached documents, confidentiality (exemption motion and order; notice of confidential filing)

        1. Address efficiency and effectiveness: discovery limitations; communication and telephone hearings

    1. Ask judge to explain mediation and how both parties will be unhappy when sign an agreement; enter 17th Judicial Circuit Family Division Mediation Order

    1. Never leave without next step:

      1. Orders

      1. Notices of next hearings (more than 5 temporary hearings = set trial sooner)

      1. Ask Judge to set for trial or set next case management conference:

        1. Fast track: 6 months in and out of system max

        2. Slow track reasons: complexity of issues or circumstances

        3. 17th Judicial Circuit Family Division Trial Orde

    1. Special Circumstances:

      1. Domestic Violence

        1. Intended pro se [Baumgartner v. Baumgartner, 693 So. 2d 84 (Fla. 5th DCA 1997)(streamlined self represented proceeding)]

        1. No fees, except violation and enforcement [Baumgartner v. Baumgartner, 693 So. 2d 84 (Fla. 5th DCA 1997) (if violation, then statute provides for award of economic damages, including costs and attorneys’ fees)]

        1. Types: Coercive controlling; separation instigated; situational couple

        1. On Behalf of Minor Child: guardian ad litem. [Sharp v. Sharp, 923 So. 2d 1283 (Fla. 4th DCA 2006)( emotional problems insufficient; family court or dependency); Seffernick v. Meriwether, 960 So. 2d 851 (Fla. 2d DCA 2007)(putative father filed DV OBO; no standing; DV not proper forum to address concern about child living alone with mother who had attempted suicide; paternity or dependency).

        1. Exit Strategy: child issues temporary

    1. Emergency Involving child

        1. All

          1. UCCJEA: Name and DOB on first line of motion

          2. Sworn

          3. “imminent or impending abuse neglect or abandonment affecting the health, safety or welfare=call DCF

          4. guardian ad litem with same age kids: 17th Judicial Circuit Guardian Ad Litem Order

          5. impairments v. red herrings: get tested before hearing

          6. maybe relocation: paternity; when did they leave

        1. Not an emergency; maybe not urgent

          1. Timesharing, resilient and fragile child

          2. Relocation paternity

          3. Exchange

          4. Communication

        1. Other “problem” issues

            1. Testimony of Child: guardian ad litem

            2. No first right of refusal

            3. Try out proposed parenting plan and guardian ad litem recommendations

    1. Conclusion of case

      1. Ask Judge to tell pro se what happened and explain final judgment / agreement on the record / bring a court reporter

      1. Clear and distinct final judgment

      1. Understanding of what remains to be done and who will do it

      1. Contempt: Willful and intentional violation of a clear and distinct court order

      1. Exempting motion and order not automatically given

      1. Certified copies

      1. Exit letter and strategy


The Florida Bar News, March 1, 2015, “Lawmakers Talk Acess: Access Commission Brings Its Story to the Legislature, by Jan Pudlow:
“The chief justice [Chief Justice Jorge LaBarga] recalled a time from his trial judge days in a foreclosure case. “I felt kind of bad for the folks and I started to tell them they could do this and that. And suddenly I get a sarcastic remark from the bank lawyer saying, “Judge, why don’t you just go over and sit at the table with them?” Judges have to be very careful. . . . That’s why we need to have a live lawyer present.”
“We have a problem,” Coleman [Bar President Greg Coleman] said, “Again, I look at it completely as a societal problem. The problem and the struggle are primarily in the area of family law practice. A staggering number. In Florida, 85% of the family law cases have a pro se, or self-represented, litigant on each case.”

“So they wander into this system that is designed for lawyers. It’s not designed for the average citizen. It’s a frustrating system for them. It’s an aggravating system for them. . . .I think lawyers often are not utilized to their highest level, and we don’t rely on paraprofessionals as much as we should. . .are not under the supervision of a lawyer.”

We are going to need to find a way to educate people about the value of human lawyers.” [Coleman, November 1, 2013).

Every family is different and unique and every family has different issues and problems which may not be an issue or problem that is within Florida Family law and procedure to address.
Sometimes the Self Represented party is able to prepare the most simple forms properly alone, sometimes the Self Represented party is able to act within the framework of the court system with the assistance of the Self Help Unit or case management system, and sometimes the Self Represented party cannot participate in the court system effectively alone or at all. In materials is a form sent by the Family Case Management Unit of the 17th Judicial Circuit to self represented parties.
The following are what a family division sees:
The following is a non exclusive list of what Self Represented parties may be able to do:

1.Simplified petition (but may not realize both parties must be present in person at final hearing)

2.Adult name change (but may not realize they need fingerprinting prior to the hearing)
3.Temporary custody to extended family member
In all areas except three above self represented may be able to do.
Forms Most Often Prepared incorrectly by Self Represented Parties:

UCCJEA – fail to include full addresses and dates and five years of previous residency for all children, and with whom the child has actual resided during each period

Financial affidavit – leaves blanks

Notice of action / Publication – Fail to include legal description of property in publication/ attempt to publish in a paternity/
Diligent search affidavit—blank or check off one thing / diligent search not done or insufficient
Child support guidelines worksheet –blank or incomplete
Paternity petition – fail to complete all sections
Notice of related cases—fail to give full information of related cases, case number, court, date, etc.
Marital settlement agreement—fail to complete child support section and oftentimes entire form is blank
Parenting plan—fail to include detailed weekday/weekend schedule and number of overnights
Answer -fail to use Supreme Court forms – write letters instead
Emergency formsfail to fill in blanks
Discovery forms – fail to fill in blanks
The following is a non exclusive list of what Self Represented parties have shown they don’t know or cannot do. Please add to the list, as this family court judge learns something new about the unique families every day.

If you don’t ask for it, the Court can’t give it to you

Court takes time

Court costs money

Lawyers are entitled to be paid for their services

Mediation and interventions cost money

If they do not intentionally comply with a “clear and distinct court order capable of enforcement” they may be ordered to pay the other side’s fees and costs regardless of ability to pay

One cannot just talk to the judge or have a family member do so

Everything must be in writing

Tell your story in the order of PEACE (parental responsibility, property, alimony, child support, everything else)

Service of process and 48.193 requirements

Prior notice and opportunity to be heard must be given to the other side, absent certain emergencies

What is an emergency

Mediation is mandatory in most instances

Pleadings/Motions not letters

Family Law Forms must be completed in their entirety and not just signed; some require sworn allegations

Must ask for a hearing

Courts and the other side do not read their file and know what the self represented has filed

Final hearing will not be immediate; theirs is not the only case

If they ask for it, it will happen

Discovery and mandatory completion / filing of certain pleadings

Not filing mandatory disclosure documents on line, just exchanging them

Court does not solve problems nor enforce for you

Conflict destroys children

No presumption for 50/50 timesharing

Want court to address parenting plan for children who have never lived in Florida

Must have timesharing schedule in a parenting plan

No waiver of child support

The petition, UCCJEA and final judgment must include the name and date of birth of the child

The final judgment must include child support, when it begins and when it ends for each child

A lawyer can withdraw from representation and you are immediately representing yourself

Your hired lawyer is no longer your lawyer 30 days after the final judgment

Because you hired a lawyer does not mean you do not have to show up in court

Dissolution of Marriage
Only one person needs to affirm that the marriage is irretrievably broken (broken beyond repair) and the court cannot deny the dissolution

It does not matter whose name the property is in if it is acquired during the marriage with marital money, it is deemed marital before other determinations are made

Cannot divide property or a business

Dissipation is 50% return of what has been taken; not 100%

Some property has no value

Property acquired during the marriage is divided equally, including pensions

Court does not do deeds

Court does not enforce your property distribution

If the Court does not know about it, the court does not find it out or distribute it

Alimony is not guaranteed to be paid and the court does not enforce for you

Dispute regarding children, making decisions or timesharing



Facebook, text, emails, and photographs (including nude selfie), police reports, medical records, school records, etc. into evidence

Tracking devices, cyberstalking, criminal

That there is no civil no contact order; domestic violence is the exclusive method of seeking a no contact order

No constructive service

If Mother gets aid, must name a Father and DOR will seek reimbursement from named Father

744.301 Mother sole custodian; Father legal stranger; no entitlement to decision making or timesharing to Father

Unwed Mother can leave the state prior to a parenting plan entered as a court order

No pick up order or temporary injunction against removal to putative father even if signed birth certificate

No parenting plan or timesharing in DOR case; parenting plan must be court order to affect child support calculation

No paternity testing after 60 days no rescind acknowledgement

Long arm jurisdiction 48.193 and 48.194 may mean establishment of paternity is in Florida, but UCCJEA jurisdiction “home state” in another state for parenting/timesharing

No property issues in paternity case

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