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Clay County Clerk of the Circuit Court

Court Services

Clay County Circuit Civil CourtClay County Circuit Civil Court

The Circuit Civil Division handles civil actions in which the damages being sought or the matter in controversy is $15,000.01 and above. The majority of the cases filed in Circuit Civil involve disputes over the title and boundaries of real property including Foreclosure Actions, Quiet Title Suits, Partition Complaints, and Condemnation / Eminent Domain Suits. Some of the other types of cases filed in the Circuit Civil Division are Medical Malpractice, Negligence, Declaratory Complaints, Contract Disputes, Writs of Certiorari, Writs of Habeas Corpus, Writs of Prohibition and all other civil actions that do not fall within the jurisdiction of the County court.

Due to the complex legal nature of these cases, the Circuit Civil Division does not offer any forms or advice on how to proceed with these actions.

Family

The Circuit Court Family Civil Division has jurisdiction over domestic relations matters such as:

  • Simplified dissolution
  • Dissolution
  • Child or Spouse Support
  • Domestic Violence
  • Adoption
  • Annulment
  • Paternity
  • Change of Name
  • Change of Custody
  • Repeat Violence
  • Foreign Judgments

More Useful Information

Guardianship

Guardianships are established for various reasons; an adult who lacks the ability to care for him/herself in some aspect, a minor who has received an inheritance, or possibly a minor who has received a settlement. However, there are many reasons why a guardianship may be established.

A function of the Guardianship division of the Clerk’s Office is to audit and monitor the guardianship files active in Clay County. Certain guardianships require the filing of a Verified Inventory of Guardian of the Property or an Annual Accounting of the Guardian of the Property. Annual Accounting Fees: Guardianship for Fees and Services Charges.

Are guardianships established for the elderly only?

Guardianships can be established for adults of all ages as well as minors in specific scenarios. For example, if a minor has received a settlement greater than $15,000, a guardian ad litem of his or her property must be appointed. There are also instances where family members, such as grandparents, are appointed as guardians when the parents of the minor are unwilling or unable to care for the minor child.

What if an individual needs a guardian?

The Clerk’s office may not give legal advice or guidance in completing the various guardianship forms and reports that are required. If you are qualified to serve as guardian, you may petition to be appointed guardian, through an attorney.

Guardianship Qualifications

Any resident of this state who is not under any legal disability or the power of another and is 18 years of age or older is qualified to act as guardian of a ward. Further qualifications can be found in Section 744.309 of the Florida Statutes.

Mental Health

The term “mental health” for our purposes, refers to several different types of filings in the Probate, Guardianship, and Mental Health Department. These filings include Baker Acts and Substance Abuse, Ex Parte and Involuntary Placements, Petitions to Determine Incapacity, and Petitions for Adult Protective Services. Proceedings filed under this category are confidential and are not public record. With the exception of the Petition to Determine Incapacity, there are no filing fees for any of the mental health filings.

Outlined below are Ex Parte procedures and Petitions for Involuntary Placements. Petitions to Determine Incapacity are filed in conjunction with Petitions for Appointment of Guardian, and the petitioner is required to be represented by an attorney. Petitions for Adult Protective Services are filed by the Florida Department of Children and Families and are usually filed on behalf of an elderly person.

Baker Act Procedures

Ex Parte procedures for Baker Act cases consist of a layperson, such as a family member or at least three (3) nonrelatives, filing a petition with the court to have someone taken into a mental health facility for evaluation and treatment. The person for which treatment is being sought is referred to as the “respondent.”

The clerk will complete an “Order for Emergency Admission” or an “Ex Parte Order for Involuntary Assessment and Stabilization,” and submit it the judge for his or her review and signature. Once the judge has signed the order, certified copies are taken to the Clay County Sheriff’s Office for service on the respondent, and for their office to deliver said respondent to the appropriate facility for treatment.

Involuntary Placement Procedures

Involuntary Placement cases are filed with the Clerk’s Office by mental health facilities that already have the respondent in their care. Generally these situations arise when physicians do not feel that the respondent is stable or competent enough to leave the facility without being a danger to him or herself or to others. Facilities are required to receive a court order for continued care for the respondent.

When a Petition for Involuntary Placement is filed, the Clerk’s Office and the State Attorney’s Office are alerted to a forthcoming hearing. The clerk will then prepare a Notice of Hearing on Petition for Involuntary Placement. The Public Defender’s Office is typically appointed to represent the respondent. Hearings are attended by the judge, mental health clerk, public defender, attending physician, and any other care providers for the respondent. Family members and/or close friends are also permitted at these hearings. Once the Judge makes a decision regarding the treatment of the respondent, an appropriate order is entered.

Substance Abuse Case Procedures

Ex Parte procedures for Substance Abuse cases consist of a layperson, such as a family member or at least three (3) nonrelatives, filing a petition with the court. The petition will be submitted to the judge for his or her review. Once the judge has signed the order, certified copies are taken to the Clay County Sheriff’s Office for service on the respondent. The judge will set a court date for the respondent to appear. At the hearing the judge will normally order the respondent to appear at Clay Behavioral Health Center for evaluation at a scheduled time.

Probate

The term “probate” generally refers to the process in which a decedent’s assets, or estate, are administered. There are several types of Probate proceedings which are all filed with our office.

Whether or not an estate is required to go through Probate depends on the assets that the decedent owned at the time of his or her death. If a decedent solely owned any real property at the time of his or her death, the estate would be required to go through Probate in order to transfer title of that real property to the decedent’s heirs or beneficiaries. Most often the beneficiaries or heirs would need to seek the assistance of an attorney as our office cannot give legal or procedural advice.

Disposition of Personal Property Without Administration

This process is also sometimes referred to as a Small Estate Proceeding. Please refer to Florida Statute 735.301 to determine if you are eligible for this type of process. This form may not be used when real property is involved. If you are unsure as to whether this process applies to your situation, you may wish to contact an attorney.

The required forms and documentation for a Disposition of Personal Property Without Administration are as follows:

  • Original Last Will and Testament of the decedent, if one exists
  • Death Certificate
  • Copy of the statement from funeral home showing by whom the bill was paid
  • Signed and notarized consents from all heirs, if any
  • Copy of any bank statement, stock certificates, insurance checks, policy value information forms, or any related information regarding the assets to be transferred with this procedure.

Once all required forms and documentation are in order, please come to the Probate Division and we will assist you in completing the Petition for submission to the presiding probate judge. The filing fee is due at the time the Petition is filed. Additional charges will apply for a certified copy of the Order for Payment of Funds, which is generally required by the financial institution holding the assets. If the judge approves the Petition, an Order for Payment of Funds will be entered by the court directing the assets to be distributed as outlined in the Petition.

Pursuant to Florida Statute 732.901, the original Last Will and Testament of a deceased person must be deposited with the Clerk of the Circuit Court, having venue of the estate of the decedent, within 10 days of the decedent’s death. The statute also states that the custodian of the will must supply the Clerk with the date of death or social security number of the testator (deceased) upon deposit. We also require the death certificate to be filed with the original will.   There is no charge or filing fee to deposit a will with our office.

Divorce

A divorce (dissolution of marriage) is a legal proceeding filed by a married person or married persons to end a marital relationship. In addition to restoring the parties to single status, the Court can issue orders for: spousal support; custody, visitation and child support for the minor children of the marriage; and the division of any shared property assets and debts.

In the State of Florida, there are two methods for filing divorce.

A Simplified Divorce May Be Appropriate When …

  • You or your spouse have been a resident of the State of Florida for at least the past six (6) months.
  • You and your spouse are both able to appear at the Clerk of the Court’s Office to both file the necessary forms to initiate the divorce action and to attend the final hearing in person.
  • There are no children together born before or during the marriage, including by adoption, and the Wife, to her knowledge, is not pregnant as of the date the action is filed.
  • You and your spouse are in agreement on how property, assets and debts are to be divided.

A General Divorce May Be Appropriate When …

  • You do not meet the requirements for a simplified divorce.
  • You have been a resident of the State of Florida for at least the past six months.
  • Your spouse resides out of state or you do not know your spouse’s whereabouts.
  • There is a minor (under age 18) or dependent child of the marriage or the Wife is pregnant.
  • You and your spouse cannot agree on how property, assets and debts are to be divided.
  • There is a need for spousal support (alimony).

Complete packets for each type of divorce can be purchased at the Clerk’s Office located at 825 N. Orange Ave., Room 1049, Green Cove Springs, FL 32043. However, individual forms can be downloaded from the Florida Courts website.

Deputy Clerks cannot give you legal advice on your rights and obligations. Divorce can be a complicated area of the law. If you have any questions or concerns, you should consider contacting an attorney.

You are not required to retain an attorney to file a Divorce; however you may desire to consult with an attorney if you or your spouse have any questions concerning the use of the Family Law forms or your legal rights prior to filing for a Simplified or General Divorce.

If you cannot afford an attorney, please consider making an appointment with a Clay County Low Bono Program attorney by calling our Civil Department at (904) 269-6363.  Through this program family law legal matters can be reviewed with a local, licensed Florida attorney by appointment at a rate of $1 per minute (30 minute minimum; 60 minute maximum). 

Domestic Violence Support

Resources

Quigley House is a comprehensive Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Center serving the Clay County Area in Northeast Florida. They provide crisis intervention, temporary shelter, protection and counseling. Victim advocates are available at the Clay County Courthouse, and may be reached at 904-284-0061 or 1-800-339-5017.

Definitions

  • “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 a physical injury or death of one of the family or household member by another who is or was residing in the same single dwelling unit.
  • “Family or household member” means a spouse, former spouses, persons related by blood or marriage, persons who are presently residing together, as a family, or who have resided together in the past, as a family, and persons who have a child in common regardless of whether they have been married or have resided together at any time.
  • “Violence” means any assault, battery or sexual battery or stalking by a person against any other person.
  • 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 in the previous two sections. 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.
  • “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.
  • “Dating violence” means violence between individuals who have or have had a continuing and significant relationship of a romantic or intimate nature.
  • “Sexual violence” means persons involved in sexually lewd acts, including any forcible felonies. The sexual violence must have been reported to a law enforcement agency.
  • “Stalking” means a person, who willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly follows, harasses, or cyberstalks another person commits the offense of stalking.

If you wish to file a Petition for Injunction, you must provide the following:

  • Driver’s license or identification which includes your picture and signature.
  • Specific dates of abuse or threats of abuse.
  • Specific locations where abuse or threats occurred.
  • Full legal name and date of birth of respondent (alleged abuser).

Please provide the following information, if available:

  • Physical description of respondent, including height, weight, scars, etc.
  • Current residential address of respondent, telephone number, social security number, and driver’s license number.
  • Respondent’s employer and employer’s address and phone number.
  • Respondent’s vehicle information including make, model, color, year and tag number.

Petition Information

There is no filing fee for an Injunction for Protection Against Domestic Violence, Repeat Violence, Sexual Violence, Dating Violence or Stalking.

If the respondent is outside the State of Florida and service must be affected outside the State of Florida, you must be prepared to supply the Clerk with the following information:

  • Name, address and phone number of Sheriff’s Department having jurisdiction over where respondent may be found.
  • Petitioner will be responsible for payment of any sheriff service fees outside the State of Florida by money order or cashier’s check only.

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.

Juvenile Dependency

All records processed through the dependency department are confidential and can only be seen by a parent 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 adoption cases where the Termination of Parental Rights is sought through 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.

Clay County Clerk of the Circuit Court © 2017

825 North Orange Ave. | P.O. Box 698 | Green Cove Springs, Florida 32043 | 904-269-6302