The Clerk’s office may not give any legal advice. If you have any other questions, seek the advice of an attorney. By getting an attorney’s advice you will protect yourself more effectively.
The Circuit Court Family Law Civil Division is responsible for the review, processing, computer data entry and calendaring of legal documents pertaining to family law. Family law has jurisdiction over domestic relation matters such as, dissolution of marriage, annulment, adoptions, emancipation, paternity, change of name, domestic and repeat violence, child or spouse support, proceedings to terminate parental rights, and foreign judgments. The Family Law Division provides customer service over the counter and on the telephone regarding the filing of legal documents, and providing information pertaining to other family law agencies and their operations.
For your convenience, additional information concerning Florida family laws and opinions may be found at the following website: www.flcourts.org. Family law forms may be purchased in the Clerk’s Office or may be found at the following website: FLCourts.org Forms Page. The Florida Supreme Court website may be found at www.floridasupremecourt.org.
If you have a question or would like more information, please contact or visit our office. We can be reached at (850) 229-6112 from 9:00am to 5:00pm, Monday – Friday, and are located in room 148 at the Gulf County Courthouse, 1000 Cecil G. Costin, Sr. Blvd., Port St. Joe, Florida 32456.
Legal Aid may be contacted at (850) 769-3581.
Dissolution of Marriage Information
A Dissolution of Marriage (Divorce) is an action to terminate the contract of marriage. Jurisdiction lies in the Circuit Civil Division. These matters are governed by the laws of the State of Florida (Florida Statutes) and the Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure. In addition to dissolving the marriage contract, the court may determine the division of property and responsibility for debts and the care and custody of children. In general, parties wishing to obtain a divorce should contact their attorney.
If a couple decides to get a divorce, the Supreme Court of Florida and Florida Family Law have created general information packets regarding divorces for your reference and use. These packets are for couples who wish to represent themselves in their divorce proceedings. As in all matters involving the law, if you do not feel fully comfortable or qualified to represent yourself, you may want to consider obtaining the services of a competent lawyer. In order to file for divorce in Florida, one party must be a Florida resident for at least six (6) months prior to the date the divorce petition is filed.
If you, your child or someone you care about is a victim of abuse, you may apply for a Temporary Injunction for Protection from the Court.
An injunction for protection, also referred to as a restraining order, is a court order which places restrictions on a person who has committed acts of violence against another person as defined below. The Injunction for Protection may include, but is not limited to, provisions which restrain the abuser from further acts of violence; order the abuser to leave your household; prevent the abuser from coming to your home, school, business, or place of employment; award custody of minor children and order the abuser to pay support.
A new Domestic and Repeat Violence case may be filed until 4:00 pm to allow appropriate processing time. Completed paperwork will be accepted at the Family Civil Department of the Clerk’s Office until 5:00 pm. Emergency cases after 5:00 p.m. may be referred to Gulf County Sheriff’s Department.
“Domestic violence” means any assault, aggravated assault, battery, aggravated battery, sexual assault, sexual battery, stalking, aggravated stalking, kidnapping, false imprisonment, or any criminal offense resulting in physical injury or death of one family or household member by another family or household member.
“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.
“Repeat Violence” means two incidents of violence or stalking committed by the respondent, one of 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, kidnapping, false imprisonment, stalking, or any criminal offense resulting in physical injury or death, by a person against any other person.
“Dating Violence” means violence between individuals who have had or still have a continuing and significant relationship of a romantic or intimate nature. The term does not include violence in a casual acquaintanceship or violence between individuals who only have engaged in ordinary fraternization in a business or social context. The existence of a continuing and significant relationship shall be determined based on the consideration of the following factors:
- A dating relationship must have existed within the past six (6) months
- The nature of the relationship must have been characterized by the expectation of affection or sexual involvement between the parties
- 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
Any person who is the victim of dating violence and has reasonable cause to believe he or she is in imminent danger of becoming the victim of another act of dating violence, or any person who has reasonable cause to believe he or she is in imminent danger of becoming the victim of another act of dating violence, or the parent or legal guardian of any minor child who is living at home and who seeks an injunction for protection against dating violence on behalf of that minor child, has standing in circuit court to file a sworn petition for an injunction for protection against dating violence.
This cause of action for an injunction shall not require that the petitioner be represented by an attorney.
The clerk of the court shall provide simplified forms, and clerical assistance for the preparation and filing of such a petition by any person who is not represented by counsel.
All records processed through the dependency department are confidential and can only be seen by parent, legal guardian and/or child with proper picture identification. Court appointed and private attorneys also have access to the court files only if they have filed their notice of appearance in the particular case.
This department processes all dependency actions that are affiliated with the Department of children and Families, all truancy cases, all CINS/FINS cases (children and families in need of services) and adoptions cases where the Termination of Parental Rights is sought thru the dependency court.
This department does not give information over the telephone as records processed in this office are confidential and access requires proper identification as described in paragraph one. Anyone wishing specific information regarding a dependency case must come in to the office with proper picture identification.
Other Family Issues
Other family law cases include adoptions, paternity, name change, child custody, and annulment.
- Adoptions are confidential. All papers and records pertaining to the adoption, including the original birth certificate, are confidential and subject to inspection only upon order of the court
- Paternity cases can be filed by any woman who is pregnant or has a child, any man who has reason to believe that he is / is not the father of a child, or any child may bring proceedings in the circuit court to determine the paternity of the child when paternity has not been established by law or otherwise
- Name changes for adults or minor children
- Annulment of a marriage
- Termination of parental rights proceedings pursuant to Section 63.087, Florida Statutes
- Emancipation removal of non-age
- Add termination of parental rights and emancipation