COVID-19 Updates

In response to the public concern of the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) and social distancing advisements, Polk County Clerk of the Circuit Court & Comptroller Stacy M. Butterfield announces changes to clerk-related services.


Clerk’s Office Now Open with New Safety Guidelines; Remote Services

The Polk County Clerk of the Circuit Court & Comptroller is open to the public. Guidelines are in place for individuals working and conducting business within the courthouse, as outlined in Administrative Order 1-53.3 issued by the Honorable Ellen S. Masters, Chief Judge of the 10th Judicial Circuit.

Clerk services have resumed with the following exceptions:

  •  Marriage and passport services are by appointment only.
  •  Most court hearings will occur by Remote Appearance via Virtual Courtroom or Teleconference. Links to the virtual courtrooms are available on the 10th Judicial   Circuit Court’s website at www.jud10.flcourts.org/.
  •  Governor DeSantis’s Executive Order halting evictions is extended through September 30.

Administrative Order 1-53.3 outlines the general procedures for the Polk County Courthouse to prioritize the safety of persons accessing the courthouse or court facilities:

Courthouse Entry/Exit: The public must enter the Bartow courthouse through the Church Street/North entrance or the Juvenile/Southwest entrance of the building.

Temperature Checks and Health Screenings: The public must undergo a health screening and temperature check before entering the building.

Masks: Everyone, including employees, must wear a mask while entering and exiting the building as well as when they are in shared, public spaces. Masks will be provided at no cost to visitors who do not have one.

 Social Distancing: Social distancing measures of maintaining a distance of six feet from others will be strictly enforced. Signage is posted throughout the courthouse to help ensure this distance is maintained.

Any person who refuses to wear a facemask or follow social distancing requirements while in the courthouse or court facility will be denied access. The administrative order is available at www.jud10.flcourts.org/.

Remote services that are still available to the public include:

  • Pay a traffic ticket (online or by phone)
  • Electronically record mortgages, deeds, and other official records (online, for repeat filers only, such as contractors, attorneys, title companies, closing agents, etc.)
  • File court documents electronically (online)
  • Electronically view court records, official records, and request certified copies (online)
  • Check your jury status or request excusals and postponements (online or by phone)
  • Check the status of court proceedings (by phone)
  • Set up payment plans (by phone only)
  • Electronically pay child support and alimony (online)
  • Sign up to receive text and/or email alerts about court dates (online at enotify.flcourts.org)
  • Mail traffic school completion certificates to P.O. Box 9000, Drawer CC-10, Bartow, FL 33831-9000

Court Hearing Updates

If you are attending a court hearing via virtual means, please view the virtual/video courtroom appearance instructions.

For more details about court cancellations and rescheduling, contact our office or the 10th Judicial Circuit.

 

Essential and Critical Proceedings

Essential and critical proceedings will continue to be conducted remotely, unless the presiding judge deems it necessary to conduct the proceeding in-person.

Essential proceedings include, but are not limited to:

  •          First appearance
  •          Criminal arraignments, as necessary
  •          Hearings on motions to set or modify monetary bail for individuals who are in custody
  •          Juvenile dependency shelter hearings
  •          Juvenile delinquency detention hearings
  •          Hearings on petitions for temporary injunctions relating to safety of an individual
  •          Hearings on petitions for risk protection orders
  •          Hearings on petitions for the appointment of an emergency temporary guardian
  •          Hearings to determine whether an individual should be involuntarily committed under the Baker Act or the Marchman Act
  •          Hearings on petitions for extraordinary writs as necessary to protect constitutional rights
  •          Critical proceedings related to the state of emergency or the public health emergency, include, but are not limited to proceedings related to:
  •          Violation of quarantine or isolation
  •          Violation of orders to limit travel
  •          Violation of orders to close public or private building
  •          Enforcement of curfew orders

Non-Essential Proceedings and Non-Critical Proceedings

All non-essential and non-critical proceedings shall be conducted using remote technology.  Click here for the virtual/video courtroom appearance instructions.

Rescheduling Canceled Proceedings

For matters that are not rescheduled by the Clerk of Court, it is up to the parties to reschedule any proceedings that have been stayed, cancelled, or postponed. The Clerk of Court and the Judicial Assistant of the assigned judge is tasked with informing a party who inquires as to whether a matter is to be rescheduled by the Clerk or the parties with the assistance of the Judicial Assistant.

IF YOU ARE UNSURE OF YOUR COURT DATE, PLEASE CHECK YOUR PAPERWORK OR CONTACT OUR OFFICE.

Presence of Children at Shelter Hearings

Unless directed otherwise by the assigned judge, the presence of children at shelter hearings is waived during the Court’s response to the pandemic or until further order

Weekender Program:

As a result of social distancing requirements, the Weekender Program may not be able to accommodate the full number of participants in the program. If the program reaches maximum capacity for any weekend and must turn participants away due to social distancing requirements, the Polk County Sheriff’s Office shall provide the Court with a list of the names of the individuals turned away and unable to complete their weekend work-release requirements due to no fault of their own.

Continuance of Fines and/or Court Costs in County Criminal Cases and Non-Criminal Traffic Violations

The Clerks of Court may, without request, extend the time for the payment of fines and/or costs imposed in county criminal cases for a period of sixty (60) days and for non-criminal traffic violations for a period of one hundred-twenty (120) days. This is a special limited exception to Administrative Order 7-16.0, In Re: Continuances of Fines and/or Court Costs, entered on March 20, 2020.


Jury Duty

Jury trials will soon resume in Polk County with jurors being called to report starting at the end of September.

 


Foreclosure Sales and Evictions

Pursuant to the Governor’s Executive Order 20-180 & the Chief Judges Special Order the Clerk’s Office is processing all residential foreclosure and eviction cases filed due to non-payment, to the point of the judge deciding if the defendant(s)/respondent(s) meet the criteria for suspension of issuance of the judgment. In addition, the Clerk's office has resumed setting judicial sales beginning on 9/1.  Please note that no sales will be scheduled on Fridays through 9/25 in addition to 9/7 Labor Day & 9/28 Yom Kippur Holiday.

The full order is available at www.flgov.com/2020-executive-orders/.


Marriage Services

MARRIAGE SERVICES: Marriage services are available at all three office locations. The following guidelines apply to all couples seeking a marriage license or marriage ceremony:

1.  Couples must call to make an appointment both to apply for a marriage license AND to make an appointment for a marriage ceremony at 863-534-4000. Appointments are available Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

2.  While making the appointment via telephone, you need to have the following information for both parties:
a. Names
b. Addresses
c. Phone numbers
d. Dates of Birth
e. Birthplaces (State or Foreign Country)
f. Social Security numbers
g. Number of marriages
h. Date last marriage ended (Month/Day/Year), reason (divorce, death, etc.)
i. Maiden name
j. Does couple have minor child or children in common born in the State of Florida

3. For marriage license application appointments, the couples will need to have the following for both individuals at the time of the appointment:
a. IDs – either a Driver’s License or Passport
b. Premarital Course Certificate, if applicable

4. For the safety of our staff and the couples receiving marriage services, only the individuals getting married will be allowed into the building for marriage licenses and marriage ceremonies. Additionally, marriage ceremonies will be performed by Clerk employees from behind the customer service window rather than the marriage ceremony room.

If you have any questions you can reach our office at 863-534-4000.

Passport Services

As of August 5, 2020, passport services at all three Clerk locations have been reinstated. This includes standard passport applications and passport photo services. Expedited passport applications cannot be accepted at this time.

In addition to the current safety guidelines in place at all three Clerk locations, the following procedures will be used for passport service appointments:

  • Make an appointment at one of our three branch locations by calling 863-534-4000. Please tell the Clerk representative which branch you would like to schedule an appointment for passport services.
  • Bring your completed passport application. You can download and complete the application by going to travel.state.gov. Read all instructions carefully and DO NOT sign the application until you are in front of a deputy Clerk.
  • To maintain social distancing, only the individuals applying for passports will be allowed into the office. Children may remain with their parent(s).
  • On Fridays, passport services are available at the Bartow courthouse

The Clerk’s office is only authorized to accept and process routine passport applications. Expedited passport services will not be available until after all passport processing agencies are cleared to resume routine processing times. Information on passport applications and COVID-19 safety guidelines can be found on the Clerk’s website at www.polkcountyclerk.net and at www.travel.state.gov.