Question about Referral to General Magistrate

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Latest post 11-13-2010 10:44 PM by MamaB11. 7 replies.
  • 01-09-2010 2:13 PM

    • ramserd
      Consumer
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    • FL
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    Question about Referral to General Magistrate

    Brief history: My ex-wife is suing me for contempt for money she claims I owe her (don't want to give too many details here, but I truly believe I don't owe her; it's not money for child support or anything like that, BTW).  I was not happy with my attorney's work, and also can no longer afford to pay his $300/hr, so I had to end that relationship and have ended up representing myself.

    Now that I don't have an attorney, her attorney has filed an Order of Referral to General Magistrate for this matter, requesting that it be referred to a specific Magistrate.  Here are my questions that I hope someone can help me with:

    1)  I'm not an attorney (obviously), and don't know who this Magistrate is.  I am thinking I should object to it.  My thinking is that if her attorney is making this move and requesting a specific Magistrate, she might know her (the Magistrate) and know which way she might rule in this particular case.  Am I being too paranoid?  I understand that it shouldn't matter and there should be no preference, but I don't believe that's how it works, and I think if the attorney and this Magistrate have a history together (work, social, whatever), it might affect the outcome against me. 

    2) What are my options if I cannot afford an attorney?  I make very decent money, but between child support, alimony, mortgage, general expenses and debt I've gotten myself into, I am literally living in the negative every month by almost $3k.  I also work full time, so it's hard to find time to educate myself enough to represent myself properly.  I understand judges don't cut you any slack either, if you're representing yourself, and expect you to follow everything to the letter as far as documentation and procedures.  What to do?

    Thanks in advance for any responses.

  • 01-09-2010 8:50 PM In reply to

    • Drew
      Consumer
    • Top 10 Contributor
    • Joined on 03-30-2000
    • PA
    • Posts 49,165

    Re: Question about Referral to General Magistrate

    The problem is you essentially have told your opponent you will be bringing a rubber knife to a gunfight--outcome is predictable ?



  • 01-10-2010 5:23 AM In reply to

    Re: Question about Referral to General Magistrate

    Find an Attorney through legal aid or call around and see if you can get someone to take your case and work out a payment plan.

    Representing yourself is a HUGE mistake.

  • 01-11-2010 11:54 AM In reply to

    • ramserd
      Consumer
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    • FL
    • Posts 12

    Re: Question about Referral to General Magistrate

    Is it really that bad to have to represent oneself?  Although I'm in a bad financial situation now, I am fortunate to have a decent job and income, in general.  I wonder, then, how people less fortunate than myself can ever stand a chance if they can't afford attorney's fees in the $200 - $400/hr range?

    How do I go about finding an attorney "through legal aid"?  Is this something offered by the state?  If you could point me in the right direction, I would appreciate it.

    And back to my first question: should I be concerned with the Magistrate issue?  Should I object to it?


    Thanks again.

  • 01-11-2010 12:28 PM In reply to

    • SPlum
      Consumer
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    • Joined on 03-11-2008
    • Posts 915

    Re: Question about Referral to General Magistrate

    Legal aid in FL most likely will not take your case.  You have to be extremely limited income and even then, they typically do not get involved in family law issues.

    A referral to a general magistrate in FL court's for this type of issue is standard.  The amount of cases in FL family courts is ridiculous and the judges's cannot handle all of the cases, so it is very standard for these types of issues (support, child support,...) to be referred to a general magistrate.

  • 11-13-2010 2:58 PM In reply to

    Re: Question about Referral to General Magistrate

    If you go before the GM for a contempt and another motion, and the ex rejects the decision, It is referred to the Judge. This I know  .  She sent copy of the rejection from GM's recommendation of Nov.1, 2010,  but no hearing date.  She didnt get the hearing the last time, waited two months after and she never filed for a hearing.  Had to do it myself....

    I filed another contempt again, and another motion after the first one on Nov. 1, 2010,The Judge again referred back to GM.  I know she will reject his recommendation again, therefore going to the Judge.

    My question is:  Will the Judge then hear all of the contempts etc together when we go before him.

    Also, I read that a GM can have a contempt held immediately after a hearing with them.   Is this true? Because the GM told her that if she does it again after he deliberately put in his recommendation that if she had to start the visitation immediately and if she did it again she would give custody to me (father.)

    How much can a GM do as far as enforcing contempt or other documents without going before a Judge?

  • 11-13-2010 10:44 PM In reply to

    • MamaB11
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    • Joined on 11-01-2010
    • FL
    • Posts 10

    Re: Question about Referral to General Magistrate

    Don't be too concerned about the fact that you're going to a specific magistrate.  I've been to a magistrate again and again with my ex.  In Tampa it goes by the first letter of the last name - if your last name is in whatever range you go to a specific magistrate.  The lawyer may well know the magistrate - they are all in the same business after all, but you need to know your parameters before going in.  Contempt is basically saying that you didn't fulfill an obligation that you were required to by a previous court order.  You are under the burden to prove that you couldn't fulfill that obligation.  If you can't do that, you might have a problem.

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