Judges & Court Divisions
Handles criminal and civil cases that are appealed from County Court and designated administrative bodies, except those appeals that may be taken to Florida\’s Fifth District Court of Appeal.
Jurisdiction over all civil matters when the property, damages or other issue in dispute has a value in excess of $15,000. Civil matters might include automobile negligence, professional malpractice, product liability, condominium lawsuits, eminent domain, real property, mortgage foreclosure, contract indebtedness, and all causes, proceedings or actions within the Fifth Circuit\’s jurisdiction and not assigned to another division.
Jurisdiction over all actions, cases and proceedings involving the administration of criminal justice, including allegations of felonies and all misdemeanors arising out of the same circumstances as a felony. A felony is a crime punishable by more than a year in state prison. Felony offenses include capital murder, noncapital murder, sexual offenses, drugs, robbery, burglary, theft, forgery, fraud, worthless checks, and other crimes against persons or property.
Family Law judges preside over domestic matters, including adoption, alimony, annulment, child custody & visitation, child support, divorce, grandparent proceedings, name change, paternity, and injunctions involving allegations of domestic, repeat, dating and sexual violence. Special proceedings designated by Florida and federal laws that relate to these matters are also assigned to Family Court.
Unified Family Court
Unified Family Court (UFC) is a comprehensive approach to handling all cases involving children and families while resolving family disputes in a fair, timely, efficient and cost-effective manner. UFC judges hear all delinquency and dependency cases and identified interconnected cases involving domestic relations issues, including domestic violence. UFC also provides prompt linkage to related services. Unified Family Courts are designed to have one judge oversee all matters involving one family.
Probate and Guardianship
Handles all matters relating to probate of estates, trusts, guardianships and mental health. Mental health issues involve incompetency (Baker Act), involuntary treatment of drug or alcohol addiction (Marchman Act) and other involuntary commitment issues. Probate determines the validity and execution of wills, trusts and other estate issues.
The guardianship process includes judges making decisions regarding the need and extent of a guardian for incapacitated individuals.
Other issues heard in this division include allegations of abuse, neglect or exploitation of the elderly, advance health care directives (health care surrogates and life-prolonging procedures) and tuberculosis quarantine.
Jurisdiction over civil matters in which the value of property, debt or other issue of controversy does not exceed $15,000; most landlord-tenant disputes; and simplified dissolutions of marriage.
Jurisdiction over all cases involving allegations of misdemeanors when there is not a concurrent felony charge, and county/municipal ordinance violations. A misdemeanor is a criminal action for which the punishment can be up to one year in jail.
Traffic (Civil & Criminal)
Civil Traffic offenses may be punishable with a fine, while Criminal Traffic offenses may be punishable with time in jail and a fine.
Presides over civil disputes that involve differences over property or bills with a value of $5,000 or less (excluding court costs, interest and/or attorney’s fees, if applicable). Small claims lawsuits may be filed by individuals, businesses, partnerships or corporations. Special rules of procedure (Small Claims Rules)are designed to make the court process simpler, speedier and more informal than the regular civil court process.
These rules published in the Florida Rules of Court and the Florida Statutes Annotated may be viewed at Florida Small Claims Rules.