Paul Rice recently chaired the Volusia County Bar Association's 2012 Family Law Section meeting on October 1, 2012, at the Volusia County Courthouse Annex. The meeting was attended by all four of Volusia County's family law Judges as well the family law General Magistrate, the director of Family Court Services, numerous members of the clerk's office and approximately 50 family law attorneys.
The purpose of the Family Law Section is to assemble all family law stakeholders to discuss the administration and functioning of our family law division. This meeting provides a forum for a frank and open discussion among the judges, clerks, attorneys and other key players about how to better serve the litigants and move the overwhelming number of divorce and family law cases now pending through the system to conclusion.
Funding cuts due to tight government budgets and a sharp increase of family law litigants who cannot afford attorneys have combined to strain the judiciary and clerk. While the goal of the Florida Supreme Court is for trial courts to finalize all family law cases within 180 days, the reality is that many contested cases can take over a year to conclude. Although the Supreme Court has recommended the addition of dozens of new judges in most circuits in Florida to keep up with population and litigation growth, the legislature has not funded these requests.
Another important topic addressed in the meeting was a presentation by Clerk's office regarding the status of the new e-filing system. As of September 1, 2012, it was mandatory for attorneys to e-file all pleadings with the clerk as well as e-serve copies of same on opposing counsel.