Frequently Asked Questions

 

Use the links below to navigate the frequently asked questions list.


Child Support

Child Support

Questions:
I received a delinquency notice saying I am behind on my child support payments. I believe that my case is current. Why did I receive this notice and how should I proceed?

I used to pay child support through the Clerk’s office for my two children. Why does it have to go through the State Disbursement Unit now?


Q: I received a delinquency notice saying I am behind on my child support payments. I believe that my case is current. Why did I receive this notice and how should I proceed?

A: In order for a Notice of Delinquency to be issued, the depository records of the Clerk of the Court must reflect that a payment is more than 15 days late and the delinquency amount is greater than the periodic payment amount. If you feel the Notice of Delinquency was issued in error, you may file a motion to contest within 15 days from the mailing of the delinquency notice. You are eligible to file this response if you believe it is a case of mistaken identity or if you do not agree with the balance. See Florida Statutes s. 61.14(c). There are a number of reasons why the depository records may not coincide with yours. These are just a few of the reasons:

You have made payments directly to the custodial parent after the court ordered payments through the depository. Direct payments can be considered a gift and you may not be given the credit.

You did not realize that you were responsible for making the payments until your employer started the deductions. Your employer has two weeks from the time they receive the court order until they have to start the deductions. That also applies when you change jobs. You must make the payments until your new employer starts deducting it from your check.

There may be a change in circumstances that the depository is not aware of, such as a change in custody or the emancipation of a child. Always make the depository aware of any new court orders that affect your support payments.

A payment has been remitted to the State Disbursement Unit but it is not posted on the depository records. Under these conditions the depository will request that the State Disbursement Unit research the payment. The Notice of Delinquency will be put on hold until the research has been completed. If speaking with the depository has not resolved the issue, you can contest the Notice of Delinquency and have a hearing before the judge assigned to your case. Some Clerk’s offices offer a pleading packet for a small fee for your convenience.

Please keep in mind that your motion to contest must be filed within 15 days of the date of the Notice of Delinquency. If it is not filed and your case still reflects a delinquent balance, a Judgment by Operation of Law will be entered into the public records.


Q: I used to pay child support through the Clerk’s office for my two children. Why does it have to go through the State Disbursement Unit now?

A: In 1994, the Federal Government passed the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act, a federal law requiring all states to have in operation by October 1, 1999, a centralized receipting and disbursing unit for cases being enforced by the Title IV-D agency and private cases with an income deduction order dated on or after January 1, 1994.

Having a single address for payments made the system more efficient for payors and made it easier to track payments for parents and the courts. To pay by mail, make sure your payment has the right case number, the county name and your social security number. Mailed payments should be sent to the Florida State Disbursement Unit at:

FLSDU
P. O. BOX 8500
TALLAHASSEE, FL 32314-8500

In 2001, an Internet payment option was put into place. In keeping with the technological opportunities afforded us these days, parents who pay child support may pay on-line at www.myfloridacounty.com. While payments now go to a single address, the official case records still reside with the Clerk of Court.

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Financial Services

Financial Services

Questions:
What are the roles and duties of the Finance Department?

Where is the office located?

What are the hours of operation for the Finance Department?

What is the fax number for the Finance Department?

Who do I contact concerning invoices submitted for payment?

How often do you write accounts payable checks? When can I expect to receipt payment for an invoice? What is the turnaround time to receive a check?

Can I pick up a vendor check?

When can I expect payment?

What is your return check or Non-Sufficient Funds (NSF) check fee?

How often do you write payroll checks?

What is the fiscal year?

Is the County audited?

What are the County’s sources of revenue?

What is the County’s policy regarding investments?

How can I get a copy of your Comprehensive Annual Financial Report?

When is the County’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report available each year?

What is the Certificate of Achievement in Financial Reporting all about?


Q: What are the roles and duties of the Finance Department?

A: The Finance Department is comprised of three main areas that include General Accounting, Accounts Payable and Payroll.

The Finance Office is responsible for managing and controlling the financial functions of Putnam County and the Clerk of Courts in accordance with generally accepted principles of government accounting and various Florida Statutes and Administrative Codes. The Finance Department establishes and maintains the accounting system, controls expenditures, receipts and deposits all revenues and manages the investment of all monies. The Department also accounts for all assets and capital project expenditures. Accurate financial information is maintained and provided in a timely manner, including reports internally and externally.

All county obligations are paid by this department, including operating expenses, debt and employee payroll. All financial activity of all county departments is supervised by the Finance Officer to ascertain solid internal controls are in place.

An audit of financial practices and principles is conducted annually by an outside auditing firm. The finance staff assists in providing this information and prepares reports and worksheets with pertinent financial data and information. This audit determines and explains any material weaknesses or discloses any compliance exceptions if there are any. This audit also discloses the financial strength of the county.


Q: Where is the office located?

A: The Putnam County Finance Department is located at:

514 St. Johns Avenue
Palatka, FL 32177

The mailing address is:

PO Box 758
Palatka, FL 32178-0758


Q: What are the hours of operation for the Finance Department?

A: The Finance Department operates from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, except for holidays.


Q: What is the fax number for the Finance Department?

A: The fax number to the Finance Department is (386) 329-0473.


Q: Who do I contact concerning invoices submitted for payment?

A: If you have a question about the status of a payment, please contact the Finance Department at (386) 326-7660 to see if your invoice has been received and processed. If the invoice has not been received by the Finance Department, you will need to contact the county department you provided the product or service for. Each department is responsible for sending the invoices to us for payment in a timely manner.


Q: How often do you write accounts payable checks? When can I expect to receipt payment for an invoice? What is the turnaround time to receive a check?

A: We write accounts payable checks once per week. All invoices received in our office from the various departments by 5 p.m. Tuesday are usually written and mailed by Friday of the same week.


Q: Can I pick up a vendor check?

A: Only when prior arrangements have been made, contact the Finance Department at
(386) 326-7660. Although there is not a policy in place by the County to not hand out checks, it is the preferred method to use the United States Postal Service.


Q: When can I expect payment?

A: Invoices are paid according to the terms stated on vendor invoices. If terms are not stated on the invoice, we assume terms of net 30 days.


Q: What is your return check or Non-Sufficient Funds (NSF) check fee?

A: As per Florida Statute 125.0105, a dishonored check is subject to a service fee.


Q: How often do you write payroll checks?

A: County payroll checks are written weekly and direct deposits are processed weekly to be available to the employee by Friday. Clerk payroll is prepared biweekly.


Q: What is the fiscal year?

A: The County’s fiscal year is October 1st to September 30th. Putnam County, like many other governmental entities, operates on an annual financial (or fiscal) year which is distinct from the calendar year. For example, fiscal year 2010 began on October 1, 2009 and ends on September 30, 2010. By law, the State of Florida and all Florida counties and municipalities operate with such fiscal years.


Q: Is the County audited?

A: Putnam County is audited by an independent external auditing firm each year. The County is required by Florida Statutes to have an audit of the general financial statements performed by an independent Certified Public Accountant (CPA). The CPA issues an opinion that is published with the County’s annual audited financial statements. As overseer, the Florida Auditor General receives a copy of the County’s annual audited financial statements. The annual audited financial statements are available for public review online and at the County Finance offices.


Q: What are the County’s sources of revenue?

A: The County’s primary source of revenue is property taxes. Other significant sources are licenses and permits, intergovernmental revenue, charges for services, and fines and forfeitures.


Q: What is the County’s policy regarding investments?

A: Our investment objectives are to (1) sufficiently diversify all funds so as to protect the principal from potential losses and (2) to obtain market rates of return while adhering to all state, federal and local laws and generally accepted accounting principles. Our four goals concerning investments are, in rank order, legality, safety, liquidity, and yield. Florida Statutes specifies certain types of investments in which the County may invest.


Q: How can I get a copy of your Comprehensive Annual Financial Report?

A: A complete copy of the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report is available online. Click here to view a list of the most recent Comprehensive Annual Financial Report documents.


Q: When is the County’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report available each year?

A: The Comprehensive Annual Financial Report must be submitted for review to the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) no later than six months after the government’s fiscal year end. Thus, it is usually available to the public in March.


Q: What is the Certificate of Achievement in Financial Reporting all about?

A: It is an award presented by the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada to government entities whose Comprehensive Annual Financial Report achieve the highest standards in government accounting and financial reporting. Putnam County has received this award for 25 consecutive years.

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Jurors

Jurors

Questions:
My husband received a summons for jury duty. He is an independent building contractor, and if he isn’t around, the work doesn’t always get done properly or in a timely manner. What are acceptable reasons for dismissal from serving on the jury?

My son is handicapped and not physically able to drive a car. For that reason, he doesn’t have a driver license. I know that they get the names of people to serve on juries from people who are licensed to drive. He is very interested in the judicial process, and would like the opportunity of serving on a jury some day. It doesn’t seem right that just because someone doesn’t have a driver license, they are not on the list of people who can be chosen to serve on a jury.


Q: My husband received a summons for jury duty. He is an independent building contractor, and if he isn’t around, the work doesn’t always get done properly or in a timely manner. What are acceptable reasons for dismissal from serving on the jury?

A: The criteria for exclusion from jury include:
Being under prosecution for any crime.
Having convictions in Florida, federal court, or any other state, territory, or county, of bribery, forgery, perjury, larceny or any other felony offense, unless civil rights have been restored.
Holding public office as Governor, Lieutenant Governor, a Cabinet officer, Clerk of Court, or judge.
If none of these apply to your husband, there are other conditions which allow exemption from jury service if requested.
Expectant mothers or parents who are not employed full-time and have custody of a child under the age of 6.
Persons employed as full-time federal, state, or local law enforcement officers, or investigative personnel for these entities.
Practicing attorneys or physicians, or persons who are physically infirm.
Persons who have served as jurors in the county within the past 12 months.
Persons who are 70 years of age or older.
Persons who are responsible for the care of those who, because of mental illness or retardation, senility, or physical or mental incapacity, are incapable of caring for themselves.

None of these conditions applying, the judge does have discretion to excuse persons for reason of hardship or inconvenience. However, such excusals are carefully reviewed, and are not granted automatically.


Q: My son is handicapped and not physically able to drive a car. For that reason, he doesn’t have a driver license. I know that they get the names of people to serve on juries from people who are licensed to drive. He is very interested in the judicial process, and would like the opportunity of serving on a jury some day. It doesn’t seem right that just because someone doesn’t have a driver license, they are not on the list of people who can be chosen to serve on a jury.

A: Yes, Florida juries are selected from the list of adults who have driver licenses in the state as you have observed, which is supplied to the Clerk of the Circuit Court by the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. You are absolutely correct that a person who does not drive should not be excluded from the potential jury pool. The good news is that people such as your son do have a way of getting on the list. If your son is at least 18 years old, a U.S. citizen, and a Florida resident, he can submit to the Clerk of Court an affidavit swearing to these facts, and his name will be added to the jury pool. Visit your Clerk’s office, and they will be glad to supply him with the affidavit to execute and submit.

Your Son is to be commended for his civic-mindedness. Thanks for your inquiry.

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Marriage / Divorce

Marriage / Divorce

Questions:
Is there a waiting period in the state of Florida for getting married after a couple applies for a marriage license? Are blood tests required, and do you have to apply in the county you live in? Can a minor apply for a license?

My husband and I have mutually agreed on a divorce. We have heard the State of Florida has something called a “Simplified Divorce”. What is it and would we be eligible?


Q: Is there a waiting period in the state of Florida for getting married after a couple applies for a marriage license? Are blood tests required, and do you have to apply in the county you live in? Can a minor apply for a license?

A: Yes and no. There is normally a 3-day waiting period as of January 1, 1999. However, if both parties have taken a 4-hour premarital preparation course given by a minister or counselor registered with the Clerk of the Circuit Court, the waiting period is waived, and the license fee is reduced. If only one applicant took the course, the waiting period is still required. If neither applicant is a Florida resident, the waiting period is not required. If one applicant is not a Florida resident, and the other is a Florida resident and has taken the premarital course, the waiting period is still required.

Blood tests have not been required since this test was abolished October 1, 1986.

A marriage license may be applied for and solemnized in any Florida county.

A county court judge or clerk of the circuit court may not issue a license to marry to any person younger than 18 years of age, unless:
The person is at least 17 years of age and provides the written consent of his or her parents or legal guardian, which is acknowledged by an officer authorized by law to take acknowledgments and administer oaths; and
The older party to the marriage is not more than 2 years older than the younger party to the marriage.


Q: My husband and I have mutually agreed on a divorce. We have heard the State of Florida has something called a “Simplified Divorce”. What is it and would we be eligible?

A: Simplified Divorce is a fast, easy and inexpensive procedure for ending a marriage for eligible couples. To be eligible both must agree that the marriage cannot be saved, both must agree on how to divide property and debts, there must be no minor children of the marriage, and the wife cannot be pregnant, and at least one of you must have been a resident of Florida for the past six months.

Both parties must come to the Clerk of Circuit Court’s office with picture ID’s, and fill out a Petition for Simplified Dissolution of Marriage. Forms are available in the Clerk’s office. An attorney is not required, but if either of you has any legal questions, consulting an attorney prior to filing is advised. A hearing to finalize the divorce will be scheduled as soon as possible after a 20 day waiting period. Both parties must appear at the hearing. The final judgment is then taken by both parties to the Circuit Civil Division of the Clerk’s office.

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Public Records

Public Records

Questions:
What if the courthouse burned to the ground. Would the Clerk’s records be lost?

With the widespread problem of identity theft today, I am concerned about the possibility of my social security number being available to the public in the Official Records on the county’s website. How can I find out if my social security number is included in any of the official records, and if it is, what can I do to prevent it being used for identity theft?

I am interested in finding out the history of a parcel of land I am thinking about purchasing. How can I get this information?

I am interested in bidding on a piece of foreclosed property that is being auctioned by the Clerk’s office. What do I need to do? Also, how can I get a list of properties being auctioned?

I hear the county is considering rezoning some property close to my neighborhood. I would like to attend the County Commission meeting when this matter gets discussed. How can I find out the Commission’s agenda?

Ten years ago I received a judgment against someone who owed me money, and a lien for that amount was placed on their house. They recently sold their house, but my lien was not on record. What gives?

I have some legal issues and cannot afford an attorney. I have heard that there are some forms that I can use to file a court proceeding that I fill out myself. How do I get these forms and how can I make sure I fill them out properly?


Q: What if the courthouse burned to the ground. Would the Clerk’s records be lost?

A: The Clerks of the Circuit Court have been mandated by the Florida Constitution to be the keepers of all official documents and records. We take this task quite seriously, and take all steps available to us to ensure records are not lost. In the past, before the age of technology, records were tragically lost due to fire, flood or other catastrophic events, much to the frustration of people looking to recreate their family tree or trying to reconstruct history for whatever reason. Fortunately, we live in a great age in which such loss is virtually impossible. Physical records are stored in climate-controlled, steel-encased vaults located off-site, away from the courthouse to insure their preservation. In addition, records are now stored on computer-generated software with back-up procedures which ensure they will never be lost. Increasingly, even historic records across the state are being scanned and stored electronically. If the courthouse were to be destroyed, you can rest assured that the records would be safe!


Q: With the widespread problem of identity theft today, I am concerned about the possibility of my social security number being available to the public in the Official Records on the county’s website. How can I find out if my social security number is included in any of the official records, and if it is, what can I do to prevent it being used for identity theft?

A: You may search the state’s Official Records on-line at www.myfloridacounty.com, “Order Official Records.” If you find a document which includes your social security number, you may request to have it removed at no charge. Please contact the Customer Service Center either by calling
(386) 326-7680 or appearing in person to request redaction of any Social Security Number, Bank Account Number or Credit/Debit Card Number from any document recorded in Official Records.


Q: I am interested in finding out the history of a parcel of land I am thinking about purchasing. How can I get this information?

A: You can research the history of any property at the office of the Clerk of the Circuit Court. The act of recording public documents is one that the Clerk has performed since given the duty in the State Constitution of 1832. This includes keeping records of land transactions. A common question we all may have asked at some point when buying property is, “what are recording charges?” Every county in every state across the nation has property records detailing the transfer of lands. Each time a land transaction takes place it is “recorded” in the Official Records of the county in which the property is located. This method provides public notice so that anyone who looks in the county’s Official Records can see who owns, or has an interest in, a property. Your mortgage company or bank wants to make sure that others know that it has loaned you money to buy that piece of property. In most counties you can trace the ownership of property back to the early 1900’s. Prior to that, record of certain lands could be difficult to find as not all counties had the boundaries they now have. The recording fees paid at closing go to the Clerk’s Office to pay the statutory fees for officially recording the transfer of your newly sold or purchased property and those fees pay for the systems the Clerks use to provide the required public notice of who owns which piece of property. Your transaction then resides in the Official Records and provides a link in history for anyone who comes after you.


Q: I am interested in bidding on a piece of foreclosed property that is being auctioned by the Clerk’s office. What do I need to do? Also, how can I get a list of properties being auctioned?

A: You may obtain a list of properties to be auctioned due to foreclosure in person at the Clerk of Court’s office, Civil Department. That list may also be accessed on the Internet in many counties. You should come to the Clerk’s office on the day of the sale and register with the Clerk. Chapter 45, Florida Statutes, requires that a bidder other than the judgment holder must present a good faith deposit of 5% of your projected bid in cash or cashier’s check in order to confirm a bid. You may contact the Civil Division of the Clerk’s office for a written policy regarding foreclosure sales.


Q: I hear the county is considering rezoning some property close to my neighborhood. I would like to attend the County Commission meeting when this matter gets discussed. How can I find out the Commission’s agenda?

A: It is the duty of the Clerk’s office to provide public notice of the County Commission’s agenda. The Clerk is also responsible for taking and recording the minutes of the County Commission meetings. In larger counties which have an Administrator, he or she may be the one to handle this duty. In smaller counties, the Clerk may attend the meetings and act as secretary. At the meetings, the Clerk or Administrator also handles speaker requests cards, and receives documents that need to go into the records. Varying from county to county, this information may be accessed on a website, if available in your county, in a local paper, on a local TV station, or directly from the Clerk’s office. Contact your local Clerk’s office if you want to know the best way to get information about your Board of County Commissioner meetings.


Q: Ten years ago I received a judgment against someone who owed me money, and a lien for that amount was placed on their house. They recently sold their house, but my lien was not on record. What gives?

A: When your judgment lien was recorded in the Official Records of your county, it remained on the record for a period of 7 years. At the end of those 7 years, a certified copy of your judgment needed to be re-recorded, along with an affidavit containing your current address. Each time you recorded your judgment it was for a period of 7 years, and could have been re-recorded every 7 years up to 20 years. The re-recording would have to be done within the 90-day period immediately preceding the expiration of the lien. If your lien was still current and a title search was done on the property prior to the sale, the title company would locate the lien information, verify that the lien was valid and notify the seller. The sale could not have taken place until your lien was satisfied. Because your lien was not re-recorded, your lien was not considered to be valid. As a result, you were not notified and sent the money due you. Beginning July 1, 2001, the effective time period will be extended from 7 to 10 years before a judgment must be re-recorded. The total effective period will still be no longer than 20 years. Any judgment recorded prior to July 1, 1987 will not be affected by this change.


Q: I have some legal issues and cannot afford an attorney. I have heard that there are some forms that I can use to file a court proceeding that I fill out myself. How do I get these forms and how can I make sure I fill them out properly?

A: There are over 80 different self-help, or pro se, legal forms available relating to the following categories:

Dissolution of Marriage
Miscellaneous Petition
Injunction for Protection
Service and Notice
Documents Requesting Information From Opposing Party
Child Support
Miscellaneous Motions and Documents
Stepparent Adoption
Landlord and Tenant
Miscellaneous
Residential Leases

Some of these forms are also available on the Internet at: www.flcourts.org at the Self Help Center. Additionally, on this website is a listing of the entities that provide legal aid for people who cannot afford an attorney. If you need help filling out the forms or finding a phone number for the nearest legal assistance office, call the Clerk’s Office and ask where assistance is available.

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Traffic / Boating

Traffic / Boating

Questions:
My teen-aged daughter received a ticket from a Florida Game & Freshwater Fish Commission law enforcement officer for careless operation of a jet ski and for not wearing her life jacket. How does she take care of this?

My nephew from South Carolina recently got a speeding ticket in Putnam County. He has lost the ticket and doesn’t know how to take care of it.


Q: My teen-aged daughter received a ticket from a Florida Game & Freshwater Fish Commission law enforcement officer for careless operation of a jet ski and for not wearing her life jacket. How does she take care of this?

A: Boating violations are being treated more and more like traffic violations. Your daughter must go to the Traffic Division of the Clerk of Court in the county where the infraction occurred. If the body of water on which she received the citation straddles two counties, check the ticket to see which county she was cited in. Generally, a simple boating infraction results in a civil penalty of $50 plus applicable court costs. The Clerk of Court will tell you exactly how much to pay. Currently, a boating violation must be paid within 10 days of the date on the citation. As with a traffic ticket, if you choose to go to court and contest the ticket, you waive your right to be limited to the civil penalty and can be assessed a fine of up to $500. Anyone receiving two or more boating infractions within a 12-month period may be required to attend a boating safety course.


Q: My nephew from South Carolina recently got a speeding ticket in Putnam County. He has lost the ticket and doesn’t know how to take care of it.

A: It is always distressing to get a traffic ticket when traveling, but the Clerk of Court’s office can help. When a ticket is issued, a copy is sent to the Clerk within several days. Please have your nephew call the Clerk of Court’s office in Putnam County. The Traffic Division can tell him the amount, the method of payment, and how quickly it must be paid to prevent him from incurring further penalties. It is important to pay out-of-state tickets, as they will show up on your driver license record.

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