Jurisdiction over all civil matters when the property, damages or other issue in dispute has a value in excess of $30,000. 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 Sixth Circuit’s jurisdiction and not assigned to another division. Civil commitments of sexually violent predators, known as Jimmy Ryce proceedings, are assigned to the Civil 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. The Sixth Circuit’s Family Courts are supported by a number of programs that address the special needs of families and parties to Family Law cases.
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. In Pasco and Pinellas Counties, Unified Family Courts – designed to have one judge oversee all matters involving one family – are sections of the Family Law Divisions.
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 $30,000; 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. Contract hearing officers hear traffic violation cases that are not punishable by incarceration, and traffic charges requiring a jury trial in Pinellas County are assigned to a judge at the Pinellas County Justice Center. Click on the appropriate county for more information about traffic citations:
Presides over civil disputes that involve differences over property or bills with a value of $8,000 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.
Additional information about Small Claims Court, including self-help centers for persons representing themselves, is provided by the clerks of court for:
Complete information and operating procedures for the Sixth Judicial Circuit’s divisions are available in the circuit’s Local Rules.