Preparing for a Zoom or Video Conference Hearing in Tampa Bay Family Courts
Due to COVID19, family law and divorce hearings are taking place via video conference in most family law courts and jurisdictions in Tampa Bay. If you have been informed that a hearing has been scheduled and you will be appearing via video conferencing, please take note of the following to ensure that your hearing goes smoothly. **You will be provided with a call-in telephone number and other pertinent information prior to your hearing. It is up to you to ensure that you have this information prior to your hearing date. Please do not wait until the last minute to prepare. Also, if you are a person with a disability, please speak with our staff prior to your hearing.
About Zoom & Video Conferencing
- If you will be using the Zoom app, You can DOWNLOAD it here https://www.zoom.us . We suggest that you do so prior to your hearing date so that you can familiarize yourself with the functions and features, particularly the following:
- How to get into the call
- Muting and unmuting
- Volume check ( can you hear each other)
- Visual check ( camera settings)
- Screen sharing (for document viewing )
- Document sharing (Ask your attorney. You may not need to do so, but it is good to be prepared)
2. If you do not have Zoom, please speak with our staff. They will help you to determine what alternative options you have. Don’t assume all video software is acceptable. Each jurisdiction may have their own requirements and alternative solutions (i.e., watching the hearing while calling in.)
3. Family law judges prefer that during the hearing, you utilize a device that is registered to you for video conferencing. Please use your own phone, tablet or computer. If you are unable to do so, please inform our staff in advance of your hearing but do not wait until the last minute.
4. Test your internet connection ahead of time. If you typically have a poor connection, it is important to have an alternative solution prior to your hearing. If you are using Zoom, you can test it with a friend or you can use this link to perform a test: https://zoom.us/test. You do not want to cause frustration during your hearing with calls being cut off, choppy connections and interruptions.
Appearance, Dress, Conduct During Your Family Law Video Conferencing
It is extremely important and highly beneficial to treat your Zoom hearing in Family Court as you would if you were appearing in person. Please make note of the following which covers issues such as your appearance (dress) to making sure background noises or activities do not interfere with your hearing.
- Dress for success. Your appearance during your video conference hearing should reflect respect for the courts. In short, please do not wear hats, pajamas or be partially dressed. In Hillsborough County, Coats, ties, suits and dresses are welcome but not required. Shorts, blue jeans, t-shirts and sneakers are not appropriate ( You can view and observe the12 Rules of the Court here https://www.fljud13.org/portals/0/forms/pdfs/fiu/12rules.pdf )
- Choose an Indoor Setting – Please do not attend your hearing outdoors or from your car. Please find a quite place indoors with no distractions. Be sure your designated area allows for a stable internet connection.
- Avoid Multi-tasking – Please arrange to free up your schedule for your hearing and be prepared to dedicate your full attention to the Judge and other parties during your hearing. Avoid eating, cooking or other activities during your hearing. If you are home, please ask others to refrain from distracting activities such as vacuuming, lawncare or other distracting noises.
- Be Courteous. Address the Judge as “Your Honor.” Speak with your attorney ahead of time to determine what you should do if you are having problems or need help during the hearing. Do not interrupt anyone who is speaking.
What to Expect at Your Video Conference Hearing
You can expect that your video conference proceedings will be much like any other in-person family law hearing. The court controls the proceedings, the lawyers will present their cases and rulings will be made. All parties and participants are expected to conduct themselves as if they were actually appearing in person. Listen carefully and when asked to speak, be courteous, speak clearly and slowly. In short, conduct yourself with pride and professionalism.
Questions About Your Hearing
If you have a hearing scheduled and you have questions for your family law attorney, please contact our office by calling 813-879-4600. If you need legal representation for any family law matter in Hillsborough, Pasco or Pinellas County, message us below or call as soon as possible to schedule a consultation.