Getting the Help You Need
As you may be painfully aware, court proceedings involving divorce and other family law matters can be highly emotional—difficult and stressful for all those involved. While it is highly advisable that you consult with a Florida family law attorney who can comprehensively represent you and your best interests, in some cases you may want to explore a specific Florida family law form on your own. Even if you have no intention of representing yourself, in many cases having additional access to the legal system can help guide you in understanding court procedures. Whether you are going through a divorce, need to file a petition, are involved in child support, child custody or child visitation disputes, need to have paternity established, are in need of a pre or post-marital agreement, or any other issue related to family law, having access to these forms may assist you. You may require local forms and resources, Florida-specific state forms—or a combination.
What are The Florida Rules of Civil Procedure?
The Florida Rules of Civil Procedure set forth the rules and standards courts are required to adhere to regarding Florida family law cases. This set of rules set forth such things as how a lawsuit or case may be initiated, whether service of process is required, the specific types of pleadings, statements, motions, applications and orders allowed in family law cases, and the conduct required by all parties during your family law trial. The rules also explain the timing and manner of depositions, discovery and disclosure, the process for judgment and any potential remedies available to those involved in the court system. Family Law Florida Rules of Court are listed numerically under section 12—meaning all forms related to Florida family law have a number 12 prefix. You will see a date on each form which indicates the effective date of the rule or form.
Where Do I Start?
It is important that you begin by reading the general form information and instructions prior to attempting to file a case or represent yourself in a Florida courtroom. The general information will provide you with a comprehensive overview of the Florida court systems as well as the process you will be required to follow and will definitely provide you with a better understanding of how the Florida family court system works. It is advisable to read the following information prior to attempting to navigate a specific family law form as they can be fundamental to your case:
• General Information for Self-Represented Litigants—9/2013
• Application for Determination of Civil Indigent Status—11/2007
• Florida Rules of Civil Procedure
• Florida Rules of Family Law
• Florida Rules of Judicial Administration
• Florida Statutes and Laws
What Comes Next?
After you have spent some time with the above information, you can then determine which specific forms are relevant to your case. Each form has instructions on the first page; reading these instructions carefully can save you considerable time and energy, ensuring you choose the proper form. In most cases, the instructions on the form will also list other forms which may be required. It is crucial that the instructions be followed to the letter to avoid having your filing refused and/or being required to start all over. If your situation requires that a person be served, an explanation will be included.
Always keep a copy of any forms you file in your local court. Should you have questions about the forms, you have several options:
1) You can contact your local Clerk’s office and set up an appointment to discuss your questions.
2) You can contact the Florida Supreme Court Self-Help Center at firstname.lastname@example.org or
3) You can speak with a knowledgeable Florida family law attorney in your area.
Be aware that the Florida Supreme Court Self-Help Center does not provide a form for every possible situation. Should you require a form which is not listed on the Self-Help Center, you will need to seek out other resources—perhaps consult the Florida statutes and rules or seek the advice of an experienced Florida family law attorney regarding the necessary information for your motion or pleading.
Some of the more common Family law forms you may find useful include the following: