Thanks to a software pilot project launched in April, 2021 in the Miami-Dade Courts, those who wish to use the Eleventh Judicial Circuit’s Family Court Self Help Program for simple divorces and adult name changes will no longer have to come to court or complete approximately 26 pages of forms by hand.
With the pilot launch of SOFIA – the State of Florida Interactive Access project – these individuals can reduce the time and effort it takes to file these self-help forms. Now they may request their simple divorce or adult name-change packet by email or online chat with a Self Help staff member, then they can register to use SOFIA, where an assisted document creator app will gather the information needed for the forms by asking them interactive questions online.
Once the interactive app has gathered all the information needed, it automatically populates all the forms necessary for a simple divorce or adult name change and places them in an electronic queue for review by a Self Help staff member and filing with the court.
“We expect this to be very successful. In the past, folks used to have to travel to the courthouse twice and fill in repetitive information by hand. Now they can skip the courthouse visit and have most of the forms completed quickly just by answering a few questions,” said the Honorable Scott Bernstein, Administrative Judge of the Miami-Dade Courts Family Division. “By eliminating handwritten pleadings, this system will also lead to reduced errors and improved efficiencies down the line when the clerks of court are processing these filings.”
The SOFIA assisted document creator app works very much like TurboTax® and other interactive document creators and is expected to greatly reduce the time it takes to complete the simple divorce and adult name change forms. The software comes to the Miami-Dade Courts thanks to a collaboration with the Duval County Courts at the 4th Judicial Circuit, where a version of the app is already in use.
“We are very happy to be able to bring SOFIA to the Miami-Dade Community,” said then Chief Judge Bertila Soto when the pilot launched. “Technology made it possible for the courts to continue operating during the pandemic, and now technology is making it possible to provide the public with easier access to our Family Court Self Help Program. We will continue to look for ways to innovate and improve the way the public does business with us.”
During the pilot phase, SOFIA will only be available for Family Court Self Help adult name changes and simple divorces that do not involve joint property, debt, or children in common. Based on the results of the pilot, SOFIA may be expanded to other types of Family Court cases, such as minor child and family name changes.
For more information and to register to use SOFIA, click here.
Please continue to visit our website www.jud11.flcourts.organd social media @miamidadecourts on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for future updates.
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If you are a person with a disability who needs any accommodation in order to participate in this proceeding, you are entitled, at no cost to you, to the provision of certain assistance. Please contact Aliean Simpkins, the Eleventh Judicial Circuit’s ADA Coordinator at Lawson E. Thomas Courthouse Center, 175 NW 1st Avenue, Suite 2400, Miami, Florida 33128; Telephone (305) 349-7175; TDD (305) 349-7174; Email ADA@jud11.flourts.or; or via Fax at (305) 349-7355, at least seven (7) days before your scheduled court appearance, or immediately upon receiving this notification if the time before the scheduled appearance is less than seven (7) days; if you are hearing or voice impaired, call 711.