Posted by Nydia Streets of Streets Law in Florida Divorce

When a matter is heard by and ruled on by a general magistrate in a Florida divorce case, there are certain procedures that must be followed to challenge the general magistrate’s findings and recommendations. These must be raised within a certain period of time. Failure to challenge the general magistrate’s rulings correctly and timely may result in relief being denied. This was an issue in the case Edwards v. Alphonse, 4D21-2910 (Fla. 4th DCA August 31, 2022).

In this divorce case, the petition and counter-petition were both heard by the general magistrate. The former husband did not file any exceptions to the general magistrate’s report and recommendations, so the trial court entered an order ratifying the magistrate’s findings and recommendations. The former husband appealed.

The appellate court affirmed the trial court’s ruling holding “Assuming [the former husband’s] arguments are preserved for review, it would be improper for this court to ‘substitute its judgment for that of the trial court on questions of fact, likewise of the credibility of the witnesses as well as the weight to be given to the evidence by the trial court.’ Lowe v. State, 2 So. 3d 21, 30 (Fla. 2008) (citation omitted). Further, to the extent [the former husband] argues the evidence did not support the trial court’s factual findings, we cannot review for competent substantial evidence without a trial transcript.”