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Civil Court Records Glossary



ANNULMENT - voiding something that once existed, such as the bonds of matrimony. An annulled marriage is one that is voided back to the beginning, as if it never took place. Divorce decree operates only to terminate the marriage from that point forward and does not affect the former validity of the marriage. Annulment actions can be filed in Civil but we have no paperwork or forms.

APPEAL court - a higher court reviewing a lower court’s decision. When one of the parties is dissatisfied with a lower court’s ruling, they have 30 days to file a Notice of Appeal. Either party can do this.

ARREARS - an amount unpaid but due to be paid.

ASSESSMENT - the rate at which support is to be paid.

CALENDAR - a list of pending cases for a specific type of court hearing on a specific date.

CERTIFICATION - A guarantee and/or attestment by the Clerk's Process Section that copies are true copies of court file documents.

DATING VIOLENCE – violence between individuals who have or have had a continuing and significant relationship of a romantic or intimate nature. The existence of such a relationship shall be determined based on the consideration of the following factors: A dating relationship must have existed within the past 6 months; The nature of the relationship must have been characterized by the expectation of affection or sexual involvement between the parties; and The frequency and type of interaction between the persons involved in the relationship must have included that the persons have been involved over time and on a continuous basis during the course of the relationship.

DEFAULT - means failure to file or serve any paper in the action within the prescribed period of time allowed by law.

DELAYED BIRTH CERTIFICATE - an action that may be filed for any state resident or person born in this state who does not have a birth certificate, to received a court-issued delayed birth certificate (No record of birth with the Office of Vital Statistics.)

DISMISSAL - removes a case out of the court’s jurisdiction. All action in a case is stopped. A dismissal with prejudice stops any further action from taking place. A dismissal without prejudice does not stop further action on the same cause.

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE - Any assault, aggravated assault, battery, sexual assault, sexual battery, stalking a ggravated, kidnapping, false imprisonment, or any criminal offense resulting in physical injury or death of one family or household member by another who is or was residing in the same single dwelling unit.

“Family or household member” means spouses, former spouses, persons related by blood or marriage, persons who are presently residing together as if a family, or who have resided together in the past as if a family, and persons who are parents of a child in common regardless of whether they have been married. With the exception of persons who have a child in common, the family or household members must be currently residing or have in the past resided together in the same single dwelling unit.

DOR - the Department of Revenue; the child support enforcement agency for the State of Florida.

FACC - the Florida Association of Court Clerks.

FINAL PROCESS/FINAL REPORTING - an area of the Legal Section which is responsible for preparing and processing cases after judgment.

FORECLOSURE - a legal proceeding that stops or ends a right to property. It is an action to force payment or a mortgage or other debt secured by a lien. This is usually started because a debt is not being repaid, and leads to the selling of the property to satisfy the debt.

FOREIGN JUDGMENT - any judgment, decree, or order of a court of any other state or the United States that is entitled to full faith and credit in this state.

FREQUENCY - indicates how often an assessment is assessed in support.

GENERAL MAGISTRATE - an attorney appointed by a judge to take testimony and recommend decisions on certain matters connected with a divorce. These recommendations are then reviewed by the judge and are generally approved unless contrary to the law or the facts of the case. The primary purposes of having general magistrates hear family law matters are to reduce the costs of litigation and to speed up cases. The General Master may hear uncontested dissolution of marriage proceedings and other matters that are properly referred to them, (there must be an order of referral signed by a judge before a General Master can hear an issue) and then files a report that includes findings of fact and conclusions of law, along with recommendations. The General Master cannot sign orders. Either party has 10 days to object to or find exception with the findings the General Master’s Report and Recommendations. The objection must be based on a mistake in law.

HEARING OFFICER - a member of the Florida Bar who is appointed by judges of the circuit court and presides over the establishment, enforcement, or modification of child support. (Only hear cases with Department of Revenue as petitioner.) A support enforcement hearing officer does not have the authority to hear contested paternity cases. The hearing officer evaluates the evidence and makes a recommended order to the court. The Report and Recommendations of the Hearing Officer are sent to the judge immediately and the judge signs the orders as soon as possible. If either party objects to the order, an objection must be filed along with the appropriate motion to vacate the motion. The objection must be based on a mistake of law.

INCOME DEDUCTION ORDER - a court order that instructs the respondent’s (also referred to as "payor's" or "obligor's") employer to deduct or withhold child support payments from the respondent's wages earned and forward it to the Florida State Disbursement Unit.

  • The Clerk's Self Help Center for affordable legal services offers limited attorney consultations to pro se or self-represented litigants (i.e. those people who do not plan to have an attorney represent them in court).

INTERSTATE - indicates that another state in involved in the action.

IV-D in support indicates that services are provided by the federal child support program under Title IV, part D of the Social Security Act. These cases are always handled by DOR.

LIS PENDENS (NOTICE OF) - may be required in a foreclosure action to be placed in the public record to warn persons (such as prospective purchasers or others having an interest in the property under suit) that the title to the property is in litigation and may be bound by an adverse judgment. The Lis Pendens must be recorded and the person filing must pay the recording fee of $5.00 for the 1st page and $4.00 for each additional page, plus $1.00 for each name over 4 names listed in the body or style of the document.

MODIFICATION - a change made by the court in an order or final judgment. Filing an appropriate supplemental petition is required, as well as noticing the parties, setting a hearing, and obtaining an order of modification from the court. A fee of $50.00 is required to file a modification in existing Pinellas County Dissolution cases only.

NAME CHANGE - the process used when an individual or a family wants to ask the court to change their name. If a name change is to be done because of dissolution of marriage or adoption, the name change can be done as part of that case if a final judgment has not been entered. If one parent asks for a name change of a minor child(ren), process must be served on the other parent, and proof of service on the other parent must be filed with the court.

  • The Clerk's Self Help Center for affordable legal services offers limited attorney consultations to pro se or self-represented litigants (i.e. those people who do not plan to have an attorney represent them in court).

NOTICE OF LIS PENDENS – placed in public record to warn persons that the title to the property is in litigation and they will be bound by the possible adverse judgment. The Lis Pendens must be recorded and the person filing must pay the recording fee of $5.00 for the 1st page and $4.00 for each additional page, plus $1.00 for each name over 4 names listed in the body or style of the document.

OBLIGATION - a commitment to pay a particular amount of money. OBLIGEE - (see also "Petitioner") the person receiving money in a support case; the one who initiated the case in a civil action, i.e. the plaintiff.

OBLIGOR - (see also "Respondent") the person paying the support in a support case; the defendant in a civil action.

PATERNITY - an action initiated to determine the (father) of a child born out of wedlock and to provide for the support of that child once paternity is proved.

PAYEE - indicates who received the payment.

PETITIONER - the person receiving money in a support case; the one who initiated the case in a civil action, i.e. the plaintiff.

PLAINTIFF - the person who initially brings the suit or civil action, and who seeks remedy in a court of justice for an injury to or a withholding of rights.

PLEADINGS - the documents contained in the court file. These are usually statements, in logical and legal form, of the facts that constitute the plaintiff’s cause of action and defendant’s ground of defense. The Clerk dockets pleadings and a list of pleadings in a court file is contained on the D screen, in the Civil Mainframe.

PRAECIPE - a request for the clerk to take some action, such as issue a subpoena, etc.

PRO BONO - indicates when attorneys take on cases without compensation to advance a social cause.

PRO SE - a person represents oneself without the aid of legal counsel, for oneself, or on one’s own behalf.

REPEAT VIOLENCE - Two incidents of violence or stalking committed by the respondent, one which must have been within 6 months of the filing of the petition, which are directed against the petitioner or the petitioner’s immediate family member.

“Violence” means any assault, battery, or sexual battery or stalking by a person against any other person."

REPLEVIN - an action to recover possession or the value of specific personal property unlawfully withheld from the plaintiff.

RESPONDENT - the person paying the support in a support case; the defendant in a civil action.

SERVICE OF PROCESS - the communication of the court papers to the defendant, either by actual delivery or by other methods. The defendant is furnished with reasonable notice of the proceedings against him or her to afford the defendant the opportunity to appear and be heard.

SEXUAL VIOLENCE – a person may be a victim of sexual violence if any one incident of the following has occurred: Sexual battery, as defined in F.S. Chapter 794; or A lewd or lascivious act as defined in F.S. Chapter 800; or Luring or enticing a child as described in F.S. Chapter 787; or Sexual performance by a child, as described in F.S. Chapter 827; or Any other forcible felony wherein a sexual act is committed or attempted.

SMALL CLAIMS - legal actions that deal with money/property matters of $5,000.00 or less. Proceedings in Small Claims Court are usually less formal than in other types of courts, and parties usually represent themselves without the assistance of an attorney.

SUMMONS - a notification to a defendant in an action that an appearance or answer is required or a judgment will be entered against the defendant. The object of the summons is to notify the defendant that he has been sued.

SUBPOENA - a writ issued under authority of a court to compel the appearance of a witness at a judicial proceeding. Disobeying the subpoena may be punishable as a contempt of court.

SUBPOENA DUCES TECUM - requires the party subpoenaed to bring with them and/or produce books, records, or other tangible goods.

SUPPORT - an obligation imposed by court order that requires the respondent (obligor) to pay the petitioner (obligee) a specified amount of money. This support can be for spousal support (alimony) or child support. If the support is for the child, the non-custodial parent pays the custodial parent support. A person who fails to pay the court ordered support may be held in contempt by the court and jailed until the past due amount (arrears) is paid.

TERM - indicates the provisions of the court order that determines the amount, frequency, start date, and end date of support.

UIFSA/URESA - refers to Chapter 88 of Florida Statutes and governs all interstate support actions. Uniform Interstate Family Support Act/Uniform Reciprocal Enforcement of Support Act.

WRIT – a written document issued by a court or the clerk, commanding the party to whom it is addressed to perform or cease performing a specified act. (i.e. Writ of Execution or Writ of Garnishment)

WRIT OF EXECUTION – a writ empowering an officer of the court to enforce a judgment.

WRIT OF GARNISHMENT – a document rendered by the court or clerk directing a third party who holds money or property of a defendant to withhold it or appear in court.

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