Q: WHICH FORMS DO I HAVE TO FILE?
A: That depends on the facts of your case. Please review the petitioner’s free family law forms section or the respondent’s free family law forms sections of this website. You can also check with your local courthouse, which usually has packets for sale that include all the forms you need for your case.
Q: DO I HAVE TO TAKE A PARENTING CLASS?
A: In all paternity cases and divorce actions with children, yes. Even though the parenting classes are offered online, many judges require you to take the class in person. Be sure to check with your local judge before taking the class online.
Q: DO I HAVE TO MAIL EVERYTHING BY CERTIFIED MAIL?
A: No, once the respondent has been served by sheriff both parties can mail their paperwork by regular U.S. mail. When you mail paperwork, send the originals to the courthouse, mail a copy to the opposing party or attorney, and keep a copy for your records.
Q: ARE THE COURT PROCEEDINGS RECORDED?
A: No, not all court proceedings are recorded. You can request a court reporter through your local court administration, or you can hire your own court reporter to attend the proceedings.
Q: CAN I BRING LETTERS AS MY EVIDENCE TO A HEARING OR TRIAL?
A: No, letters are not admissible in court. Witnesses must testify in person or by phone, they cannot just write letters.
Q: ONE OF MY WITNESSES LIVES FAR AWAY, CAN THE WITNESS TESTIFY BY PHONE?
A: Maybe. You have to ask the court for permission for the witness to testify by phone and you have to have the other party or other attorney’s permission. If there is no objection and if the court has given permission for your witness to testify by phone, then you will have to arrange for a notary public to be with your witness and swear the witness in for testimony. The notary public may also have to certify your witness’s identity.
If there is an objection or the court denies your request for a witness to appear by phone, then you would have to depose the witness for the purpose of trial testimony and you will have to hire a court reporter local to the witness.
Q: DOES THE COURT SEND OUT SUBPOENAS?
A: No, if you want to subpoena witnesses for a trial, then you have to arrange to send out the subpoenas. A person representing themselves can get help from the clerk to issue a subpoena. The local sheriff’s department charges $40 per subpoena. The clerk may also charge a fee.
Q: I WAS SERVED WITH A SUMMONS AND IT SAYS I HAVE 20 DAYS TO ANSWER, DO I COUNT THE WEEKENDS?
A: Yes, once you have been served, you have 20 days to answer the petition and you count the weekends!
Q: WHAT IF I DON’T FILE AN ANSWER AND JUST IGNORE THE SUMMONS?
A: Then the clerk will default you and you can lose the case.
Q: I WAS SERVED WITH A SUMMONS BUT I NEED MORE TIME TO ANSWER, WHAT DO I DO?
A: All you have to do is write a letter to the Judge and ask for extra time to file your answer. You can ask for an extra 10 or 20 days. Once you file this request, the clerk cannot default you.
Q: HOW DO I ANSWER A PETITION?
A: You admit or deny each allegation. If you cannot answer by admitting or denying, then you state that you are without knowledge as to that allegation.
Q: I LOST A TRIAL ABOUT THREE MONTHS AGO, BUT JUST FOUND OUT THAT MY EX LIED IN COURT, CAN I GO BACK TO COURT?
A: Maybe. You have a right to file a motion for rehearing within one year of a final judgment if you later learned there was fraud or misrepresentation and the order was based on fraudulent evidence.
Q: I GOT CUSTODY OF MY KIDS IN MY DIVORCE, NOW I HAVE A JOB OFFER IN ANOTHER STATE, CAN I MOVE WITH THE KIDS?
A: No, not without the other parent’s permission or court order. See Chapter 61.13001 Florida Statutes.
Q: DOES MY 15 YEAR OLD SON HAVE THE CHOICE OF WHERE HE WANTS TO LIVE?
A: No, not in Florida! In Chapter 61.(3)(a-t), the child’s preference of where he wants to live is only one factor the court considers when making a time-sharing or custody determination — but only if the child is of sufficient intelligence and maturity to understand the proceedings.