205 So.3d 1 (Fla. 2015), SC15-44, In re Amendments to the Florida Supreme Court Approved Family Law Forms

Docket Nº:SC15-44
Citation:205 So.3d 1, 40 Fla.L.Weekly S 647
Opinion Judge:Per Curiam.
Party Name:IN RE: AMENDMENTS TO THE FLORIDA SUPREME COURT APPROVED FAMILY LAW FORMS
Attorney:Mark E. Sullivan of Sullivan & Tanner, P.A., Raleigh, North Carolina; Charles Cole Jeffries, Jr., Chair, Family Law Rules Committee, Tampa, Florida; Elizabeth Ann Blackburn, Past Chair, Family Law Rules Committee, Daytona Beach, Florida; John F. Harkness, Jr., Executive Director, and Gregory A. Z...
Judge Panel:LABARGA, C.J., and PARIENTE, LEWIS, QUINCE, CANADY, POLSTON, and PERRY, JJ., concur. LABARGA, C.J., and PARIENTE, LEWIS, QUINCE, CANADY, POLSTON, and PERRY, JJ., concur.
Case Date:November 19, 2015
Court:Supreme Court of Florida
 
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205 So.3d 1 (Fla. 2015)

40 Fla.L.Weekly S 647

IN RE: AMENDMENTS TO THE FLORIDA SUPREME COURT APPROVED FAMILY LAW FORMS

No. SC15-44

Supreme Court of Florida

November 19, 2015

          Editorial Note:

          This Pagination of this case accurately reflects the pagination of the original published, though it may appears out of sequence.

          Mark E. Sullivan of Sullivan & Tanner, P.A., Raleigh, North Carolina; Charles Cole Jeffries, Jr., Chair, Family Law Rules Committee, Tampa, Florida; Elizabeth Ann Blackburn, Past Chair, Family Law Rules Committee, Daytona Beach, Florida; John F. Harkness, Jr., Executive Director, and Gregory A. Zhelesnik, Bar Staff Liaison, The Florida Bar, Tallahassee, Florida, Responding with Comments.

         LABARGA, C.J., and PARIENTE, LEWIS, QUINCE, CANADY, POLSTON, and PERRY, JJ., concur.

          OPINION

          Original Proceeding -- Florida Supreme Court Approved Family Law Forms

         Per Curiam.

         This matter is before the Court for consideration of amendments to the Florida Supreme Court Approved Family Law Forms. We have jurisdiction. See art. V, § 2(a), Fla. Const.

         Under Amendments to the Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure & Family Law Forms, 810 So.2d 1, 13-14 (Fla. 2000), the Court internally reviews and maintains the Florida Supreme Court Approved Family Law Forms. Previously in this case, we adopted amendments to the family law forms in response to the implementation of e-service and e-filing. Language was added to the instructions sections of the forms to explain e-service and e-filing; e-mail was added as method of service to the certificate of service for forms not requiring personal service; information about e-service and e-filing procedures was added to the General Instructions for Self-Represented Litigants. Several forms were also amended in response to recent Court opinions or statutory changes; and amendments were made to update the " nonlawyer clause" and the certificate of service in a number of forms. A post-adoption sixty-day period was provided for interested persons to file comments with regard to the amendments. Two comments were filed--one from attorney Mark E. Sullivan, and the other from the Family Law Rules Committee.

         Upon consideration of the comments and input from the Advisory Workgroup on the Florida Supreme Court Approved Family Law Forms, we adopt additional amendments to add the following language to the instructions sections of the forms:

If you elect to participate in electronic service, which means serving or receiving pleadings by electronic mail (e-mail), or through the Florida Courts E-Filing Portal, you must review Florida Rule of Judicial Administration 2.516. You may find this rule at www.flcourts.org through the link to the Rules of Judicial Administration provided under either Family Law Forms: Getting Started, or Rules of Court in the A-Z Topical Index.

         Accordingly, the Florida Supreme Court Approved Family Law Forms are hereby amended as set forth in the appendix to this opinion, fully engrossed, effective for immediate use. The forms may also be accessed and downloaded from the Florida State Courts' website at http://www.flcourts.org/resources-and-services/court-improvement/problem-solving-courts/family-courts/family-law-forms.stml . By adoption of the amended forms, we express no opinion as to their correctness or applicability.

         It is so ordered.

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          LABARGA, C.J., and PARIENTE, LEWIS, QUINCE, CANADY, POLSTON, and PERRY, JJ., concur.

         APPENDIX

         INSTRUCTIONS FOR FLORIDA SUPREME COURT APPROVED FAMILY LAW FORM 12.901(b)(1), PETITION FOR DISSOLUTION OF MARRIAGE WITH DEPENDENT OR MINOR CHILD(REN) (11/15)

         When should this form be used?

         This form should be used when a husband or wife is filing for a dissolution of marriage and you and your spouse have a dependent or minor child(ren) together or the wife is pregnant. You and/or your spouse must have lived in Florida for at least 6 months before filing for a dissolution in Florida. You must file this form if the following is true:

o You and your spouse have a dependent or minor child(ren) together or the wife is pregnant.

         This form should be typed or printed in black ink. After completing this form, you should sign the form before a notary public or deputy clerk. You should file the original with the clerk of the circuit court in the county where you live and keep a copy for your records. Because you are filing the petition in this proceeding, you may also be referred to as the petitioner and your spouse as the respondent.

         IMPORTANT INFORMATION REGARDING E-FILING

         The Florida Rules of Judicial Administration now require that all petitions, pleadings, and documents be filed electronically except in certain circumstances. Self-represented litigants may file petitions or other pleadings or documents electronically; however, they are not required to do so. If you choose to file your pleadings or other documents electronically, you must do so in accordance with Florida Rule of Judicial Administration 2.525, and you must follow the procedures of the judicial circuit in which you file. The rules and procedures should be carefully read and followed.

         What should I do next?

         For your case to proceed, you must properly notify your spouse of the petition. If you know where he or she lives, you should use personal service. If you absolutely do not know where he or she lives, you may use constructive service. You may also be able to use constructive service if your spouse resides in another state or country. However, if constructive service is used, other than granting a divorce, the court may only grant limited relief, which cannot include either spousal support (alimony) or child support. For more information on constructive service, see Notice of Action for Family Cases with Minor Child(ren), Florida Supreme Court Approved Family Law Form 12.913(a)(2), and Affidavit of Diligent Search and Inquiry, Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure Form 12.913(b). If your spouse is in the military service of the United States, additional steps for service may be required. See, for example, Memorandum for Certificate of Military Service, Florida Supreme Court Approved Family Law Form 12.912(a) and Affidavit of Military Service, Florida Supreme Court Approved Family Law Form 12.912(b). In sum, the law regarding constructive service and service on an individual in the military service is very complex and you may wish to consult an attorney regarding these issues.

         If personal service is used, your spouse has 20 days to answer after being served with your petition. Your case will then

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generally proceed in one of the following three ways:

DEFAULT. If after 20 days, your spouse has not filed an answer, you may file a Motion for Default, Florida Supreme Court Approved Family Law Form 12.922(a), with the clerk of court. Then, if you have filed all of the required papers, you may call the clerk, family law intake staff, or judicial assistant to set a final hearing. You must notify your spouse of the hearing by using a Notice of Hearing (General), Florida Supreme Court Approved Family Law Form 12.923, or other appropriate notice of hearing form.

UNCONTESTED. If your spouse files an answer that agrees with everything in your petition or an answer and waiver, and you have complied with mandatory disclosure and filed all of the required papers, you may call the clerk, family law intake staff, or judicial assistant to set a final hearing. You must notify your spouse of the hearing by using a Notice of Hearing (General), Florida Supreme Court Approved Family Law Form 12.923, or other appropriate notice of hearing form.

CONTESTED... If your spouse files an answer or an answer and counter petition, which disagrees with or denies anything in your petition, and you are unable to settle the disputed issues, you should file a Notice for Trial, Florida Supreme Court Approved Family Law Form 12.924, after you have complied with mandatory disclosure and filed all of the required papers. Some circuits may require the completion of mediation before a final hearing may be set. You should contact the clerk, family law intake staff, or judicial assistant for instructions on how to set your case for trial (final hearing). If your spouse files an answer and counter petition, you should answer the counter petition within 20 days using an Answer to Counter petition, Florida Supreme Court Approved Family Law Form 12.903(d).

         Where can I look for more information?

         Before proceeding, you should read General Information for Self-Represented Litigants found at the beginning of these forms.

         The words that are in bold underline in these instructions are defined there. For further information, see chapter 61...

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