What is the difference between a general magistrate and a judge?

Discover how the recommendations and decisions of a general magistrate impact legal proceedings and their difference between judges.

A judge appoints a general magistrate, who then takes testimony, makes recommendations, and issues a written report for court consideration. The judge must accept and adopt the recommendations before they become a court order.

General magistrates help manage large caseloads and expedite cases, reducing litigation costs.

Cases can be referred to a general magistrate with or without a motion. However, litigants have the right to object. Heavily litigated family law cases often go to a general magistrate for a faster process.

What to expect at a hearing before the General Magistrate:

In Florida, all hearings before a general magistrate are recorded (audio). Similar to a trial, each side will present their case during the hearing. After evaluating the evidence and witness testimonies, the general magistrate will provide a written report and recommendation to the judge for approval. Following that, the parties involved will have ten (10) days to file “exceptions” to the recommended order. See Florida Family Law Rule of Procedure 12.490(f).


Understanding the roles and processes of general magistrates and judges is crucial in navigating court actions and legal proceedings. By grasping how the recommendations and decisions of a general magistrate impact the outcome, you can better navigate your legal journey.

The legal process can get difficult, which is why we always recommend that you seek the assistance of counsel; or at least have a consultation. Schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys today to review the issues of your case, the legal options you may have, and certain rights that pertain to your unique situation.

Have more questions? Let us know by sending an email to: questions@legallotus.legal and we will do our best to develop content to provide you with direction and insight!

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