This is an update to the original order due to the recent spike in COVID-19 cases. Click here to read the original order.

Amended Temporary Order Governing Trial Court Proceedings

Administrative Order No. 2020-06-05 issued in the Ninth Judicial Circuit
in and for Orange and Osceola Counties, Florida

Due to the recent rise of new COVID-19 cases, it has been decided that the Ninth Judicial Circuit of Florida, serving Orange and Osceola Counties, must return to Phase 1 until such time as the community again shows improving health conditions over a 14-day period. 

The Administrative Order is currently in effect, and its impact on domestic/family law cases is summarized as follows:

(a) Beginning June 29, 2020, the Ninth Judicial Circuit Court transitioned from Phase 2 (limited in-person contact was authorized for certain purposes and requires the use of protective measures) back to Phase 1 (in-person contact is inadvisable, court facilities are effectively closed to the public, and in-person proceedings are rare) due to the declining COVID-19 health conditions over a 14-day period in the community.

(b) The Ninth Judicial Circuit and County Courts shall continue to perform “essential court proceedings” which generally does not include domestic/family law proceedings except hearings on petitions for injunctions relating to the safety of an individual. See Page 4, Paragraph (2) of the Administrative Order for a list of other proceedings deemed “essential”.  

(c) Public access to court facilities has been limited to the parties’ attorneys and the litigants involved in an in-person or hybrid court proceeding, and visitors to the offices of the clerk of court. Only persons essential to any proceeding will be allowed in the courtroom: Judge, clerks, parties, attorneys, victims, witnesses, court reporters, court interpreters, and other persons whose presence is essential. No other persons will be allowed to enter court facilities via the public entrances or attend court proceedings, except as may be permitted by the Presiding Judge or the Chief Judge. In conducting proceedings, the Ninth Judicial Circuit Court shall employ all methods practicable to minimize the risk of COVID-19 exposure to anyone involved in the proceedings. 

(d) Any person, regardless of status, who is exhibiting symptoms consistent with COVID19, or any person who has knowingly been in contact with another person who is suffering from the effects of the COVID-19 virus is prohibited from entering any court facility. 

(e) If a Judge has coordinated hearings that do not involve in-person contact, then those hearings may occur without delay. 

(f) Non-essential and Non-critical Court Proceedings. The Chief Justice determined that the following proceedings relevant to domestic/family law may be conducted remotely: 

(1) Alternative dispute resolution proceedings (such as mediation); 

(2) Status, case management, and pretrial conferences; 

(3) Non-evidentiary and evidentiary motion hearings; 

(4) Non-jury trials (except for termination of parental rights, unless the chief judge or the presiding judge determines that the non-jury trial should proceed remotely). 

Each of the above-listed proceedings shall be conducted using telephonic or other electronic means available unless the Presiding Judge or Chief Judge determines that one of the following exceptions applies: 

  • Remote conduct of the proceeding is inconsistent with the United States or Florida Constitution, a statute, or a rule of court that has not been suspended by administrative order; or 
  • Remote conduct of the proceeding would be infeasible because the court, the clerk, or other participants in a proceeding lacks the technological resources necessary to conduct the proceeding or, for reasons directly related to the state of emergency or the public health emergency, lacks the staff resources necessary to conduct the proceeding. 

(g) In the event of any in-person proceedings, the Presiding Judge shall take necessary steps to ensure social distancing in order to minimize potential exposure to COVID-19. The Presiding Judge must ensure that all participants in the proceeding maintain at least a 6-foot “social distance” from each other at all times. 

(h) As determined by the Chief Judge, proceedings and events which are not “essential” may be conducted if the Presiding Judge can do so using technological resources such as video or telephone conferencing.