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What Is a Minute Order and Is It Supposed To Be Signed By a Judge?
The term “minute order” often surfaces during legal proceedings, and many people fail to understand its meaning or significance. It has a very specific meaning that cannot be fully understood without providing a bit of context concerning how the family law legal system works.
What Are “Minutes”?
Every court hearing will include someone recording the word-for-word contents of the hearing. Typically, this responsibility falls upon a court clerk. “Minutes” are simply the written record of verbal proceedings.
What Is a Court Order?
A court order is a binding directive from a judge. A court may order, for example, that:
A child’s mother has full legal custody over decisions affecting the child;
A spouse accused of domestic violence must stay at least 500 feet away from the victim;
The contents of a bank account are to be divided equally between divorcing spouses; or
One divorcing spouse must pay the other spouse a certain amount of money every month for child support.
Violation of a court order can result in various sanctions, including jail time for contempt of court.
What Is an Interim Order?
When most people think of a court order, they think of a final verdict at the end of a case. In actual practice, however, judges make binding decisions throughout a typical family law case. The reason for this is that some decisions–where a child will live while their parents’ divorce is pending, for example–can’t wait for a verdict that might take months to reach. Interim orders are typically valid only until the court issues a final order.
What Is a Minute Order?
A minute order is a specific type of interim order in a family law case. It is a brief record of a judge’s decision in a court hearing, typically prepared by the court clerk.
Minute orders are merely summaries of the decisions made by the judge during a hearing. They are not as detailed as formal court orders. The judge does not need to sign a minute order. They are often used as temporary records until the judge signs a formal written order.
The Format of a Minute Order
A minute order is likely to include the following information:
The names of the lawsuit parties;
The name of the court that issued the order;
The case number;
The mae of the court clerk;
The date the order was issued; and
The substantive content of the minute order.
The order might contain other information as well.
Examples of Typical Minute Orders
Typical minute orders include:
Temporary child custody arrangements;
Temporary child support payment orders to one parent;
Temporary spousal support (alimony) orders to one parent;
A list of all possible minute orders might not be complete even after the inclusion of thousands of items.
Obtaining a Copy of a Minute Order
Any party to the proceedings has the right to obtain a copy of a minute order. In most cases, you can get a paper copy from the court clerk within a day or two of the date of the relevant hearing. It is also possible to obtain a copy online, perhaps faster than you can obtain one from the court clerk. The document containing the minute order might include all minute orders issued during the same hearing.
Contact an Experienced Florida Family Lawyer if You Anticipate Divorce Proceedings
If you anticipate a possible divorce, don’t wait until your spouse serves papers on you to hire a lawyer. Likewise, if you intend to file for divorce yourself, contact a Florida family lawyer as soon as you make up your mind. If you have children or any significant property, the assistance of a divorce lawyer from the early stages is a practical necessity.