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Magistrate Hearings in Family Law

Panama City Divorce Lawyer

When a court is backed up with cases, a judge may refer your case to a magistrate. When a judge refers your case to a magistrate, then you will receive an Order of Referral. After receiving this notice, you normally have 10 days to object if you would prefer to have your case handled directly by a judge. Magistrate hearings take place only when all the involved parties agree to it. The Order of Referral itself states that you have the right to have a judge hear your case if that is what you prefer.

What is a Magistrate?

He or she is an attorney who can hear family law and divorce cases and submit a recommendation to the judge. Then the judge can sign it, making these recommendations a court order that must be followed. A magistrate's decisions are not legally binding.

What a Magistrate Does in Divorce Proceedings

A magistrate will look at all the evidence, and may even require witnesses as character references for each party. In Florida, a magistrate will usually only deal with a limited number of family law issues. Magistrates may look at a divorce, child support, and paternity cases, for example. Post-divorce issues can be dealt with in a magistrate hearing. These issues can refer to contempt actions, which cover violations of child support, custody, or alimony. If you require a change in previous court orders, a magistrate may also hear matters regarding domestic support or child custody modification.

What if I do not agree with a magistrate's report?

A judge will only sign off on the magistrate's decisions if no one objects. Once the magistrate has written up a report, you and the other party will get a chance to look it over. If either of you disagree, you can file an exception (objection). You have a limited time to do this. Your exception will demand a hearing before a judge, who will look over the same evidence that the magistrate had. The judge will then determine if the report is incongruent with the evidence presented. If the judge agrees with you that the report needs to change, then you will go through another magistrate hearing.

A hearing before a magistrate is a good idea in some cases, but in others, it can only delay the process. This has the potential to add steps to the proceedings. However, if courts are so backed up, a magistrate may be able to deal with you case faster than a judge can even get to it. You should consult with a divorce lawyer about what is best for your situation.

How a Panama City Family Law Attorney Can Help You

Any process in a divorce or family can be quite complicated, and any disagreement along the way leads only to further complexity. You deserve to have a legal professional on your side. The right Panama City divorce attorney can help guide you through each process so you can succeed in moving forward. Attorney Seaton may be able to ensure that you are getting the fair hearing to which you are entitled. Experienced legal representation can also make sure that your and your family's rights are being protected before a judge signs anything.

At Seaton Law Offices, P.A., you can find the dedicated legal counsel you deserve. The firm understands that this can be a stressful, potentially overwhelming time in your life and wants to help you succeed in peacefully parting ways with your spouse, while protecting the well-being of your whole family. If you have received an Order of Referral and are wondering if this is the route for you, the family law attorneys are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Time is of the essence. The firm can help you act decisively to safeguard your future. When you need a family law attorney you can count on, look to Seaton Law Offices, P.A.

Do not hesitate to contact a Panama City divorce firm today!

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