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In Re: Amendments To the Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure.

November 3, 2011

IN RE: AMENDMENTS TO THE FLORIDA FAMILY LAW RULES OF PROCEDURE.


Per curiam.

The Family Law Rules Committee (Committee) filed its regular-cycle report proposing amendments to the Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure and forms. We have jurisdiction. See art. V, § 2(a), Fla. Const. The Committee's proposals were published for comment in February 2011. One comment was filed with the Court, relating only to the proposed amendment to rule 12.070, and the Committee filed a response. Oral argument in this matter was held on June 7, 2011.

Upon consideration of the Committee's Report, the comment filed and the Committee's response thereto, and the parties' presentations at oral argument, we adopt the amendments to forms 12.913(a) (Notice of Action for Dissolution of Marriage), 12.913(b) (Affidavit of Diligent Search and Inquiry), and 12.913(c) (Affidavit of Diligent Search) as proposed by the Committee. We also adopt new form 12.913(a)(2) (Notice of Action for Family Cases With Minor Child). However, due to the substantial concerns raised by the comment and at oral argument in this case, we decline to adopt the proposed amendment to rule 12.070 (Process).

The Committee also proposed new rule 12.745 (Collaborative Process Rule) setting forth a protocol for participation in the "collaborative law process." In its report, the Committee explains that the collaborative law process is a contractual, voluntary, non-adversarial dispute resolution process used in dissolution of marriage cases. While we commend the Committee for its study of the collaborative law process and its work in proposing this rule, we decline to adopt the proposed rule at this time. Given the possibility of legislative action addressing the use of the collaborative law process in Florida and the fact that certain foundations, such as training or certification of attorneys for participation in the process, have not yet been laid, we conclude that the adoption of a court rule on the subject at this time would be premature.

Accordingly, the Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure Formsand the Florida Supreme Court Approved Family Law Forms are hereby amended as set forth in the appendix to this opinion. The new and amended forms are fully engrossed. These amendments shall become effective on January 1, 2012, at 12:01 a.m.

It is so ordered.

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

THE FILING OF A MOTION FOR REHEARING SHALL NOT ALTER THE EFFECTIVE DATE OF THESE AMENDMENTS.

Original Proceeding -- The Family Law Rules Committee

Responding with comments

APPENDIX

INSTRUCTIONS FOR FLORIDA SUPREME COURT APPROVED FAMILY LAW

FORM 12.913(a)(1), NOTICE OF ACTION FOR DISSOLUTION OF

MARRIAGE (NO CHILD OR FINANCIAL SUPPORT)

(01/12)

When should this form be used?

This form may be used to obtain constructive service (also called service by publication) in a dissolution of marriage case that does not involve a minor child or financial support if you do not know where your spouse lives or if your spouse lives outside Florida and you are unable to obtain personal service. Constructive notice will allow the court to dissolve the marriage, but personal service is required before a court can order payment of financial support, such as spousal support (alimony) or costs. If you are asking the court to decide how real or personal property located in Florida should be divided, the Notice of Action must include a specific description of the property. If you use constructive service, the court can grant only limited relief because its jurisdiction is limited. This is a complicated area of the law and you should consult an attorney before using constructive service.

You should complete this form by typing or printing the appropriate information in black ink. You should insert your spouse's name and last known address and then file this form with the clerk of the circuit court in the county where your petition for dissolution of marriage was filed. You must also complete and file an Affidavit of Diligent Search and Inquiry, Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure Form 12.913(b). You should keep a copy for your records.

After the Affidavit of Diligent Search and Inquiry, Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure Form 12.913(b), is filed, the clerk will sign this form. The form must then be given to a qualified local newspaper in the county where the case is pending to be published once each week for four consecutive weeks. When in doubt, ask the clerk which newspapers in your area are "qualified." The newspaper will charge you for this service. If you cannot afford to pay the cost of publication of this notice in a qualified newspaper, you may ask the clerk to post the notice at a place designated for such postings. You will need to file an Application for Determination of Civil Indigent Status, which you can obtain from the clerk. If the clerk determines that you cannot afford these costs, the clerk will post the notice of action.

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. For further information, see rule 12.070, Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure, and chapter 49, Florida Statutes.

Special notes...

If the other party fails to respond to your petition within the time limit stated in the notice of action that is published or posted, you are entitled to request a default. (See Motion for Default, Florida Supreme Court Approved Family Law Form 12.922(a), and Default, Florida Supreme Court Approved Family Law Form 12.922(b).)

Instructions for Florida Supreme Court Approved Family Law Form 12.913(a)(1), Notice of Action for Dissolution of Marriage (No Child or Financial Support) (01/12)

Remember, a person who is NOT an attorney is called a non-lawyer. If a non-lawyer helps you fill out these forms, that person must give you a copy of Disclosure from Non-lawyer, Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure Form 12.900 (a), before he or she helps you. A non-lawyer helping you fill out these forms also must put his or her name, address, and telephone number on the bottom of the last page of every form he or she helps you complete.

Instructions for Florida Supreme Court Approved Family Law Form 12.913(a)(1), Notice of Action for Dissolution of Marriage (No Child or Financial Support) (01/12)

IN THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE JUDICIAL CIRCUIT, IN AND FOR COUNTY, FLORIDA

Case No.: _______________________________

Division: ________________________________

, Petitioner and , Respondent.

NOTICE OF ACTION FOR DISSOLUTION OF MARRIAGE

(NO CHILD OR FINANCIAL SUPPORT)

TO: {name of Respondent}

{Respondent's last known address}

YOU ARE NOTIFIED that an action for dissolution of marriage has been filed against you and that you are required to serve a copy of your written defenses, if any, to it on {name of Petitioner} _____________________________________________________________________________________, whose address is _______________________________________________________________________ on or before {date} ______________, and file the original with the clerk of this Court at {clerk's address} ____________________________________________________________________________________, before service on Petitioner or immediately thereafter. If you fail to do so, a default may be entered against you for the relief demanded in the petition.

The action is asking the court to decide how the following real or personal property should be divided: {insert "none" or, if applicable, the legal description of real property, a specific description of personal property, and the name of the county in Florida where the property is located}

Copies of all court documents in this case, including orders, are available at the Clerk of the Circuit Court's office. You may review these documents upon request.

You must keep the Clerk of the Circuit Court's office notified of your current address. (You may file Notice of Current Address, Florida Supreme Court Approved Family Law Form 12.915.) Future papers in this lawsuit will be mailed to the address on record at the clerk's office.

WARNING: Rule 12.285, Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure, requires certain automatic disclosure of documents and information. Failure to comply can result in sanctions, including dismissal or striking of pleadings.

Florida Supreme Court Approved Family Law Form 12.913(a)(1), Notice of Action for Dissolution of Marriage (No Child or Financial Support) (01/12)

Dated: ______________________. CLERK OF THE CIRCUIT COURT

By: ___________________________________________

Deputy Clerk

IF A NON-LAWYER HELPED YOU FILL OUT THIS FORM, HE/SHE MUST FILL IN THE BLANKS BELOW: [fill in all blanks]

I, {full legal name and trade name of non-lawyer} ____________________________________________, a non-lawyer, located at {street} ____________________________________, {city} ________________, {state} ______________, {phone}___________, helped {name}_________________________________, who is the petitioner, fill out this form.

Florida Supreme Court Approved Family Law Form 12.913(a)(1), Notice of Action for Dissolution of Marriage (No Child or Financial Support) (01/12)

INSTRUCTIONS FOR FLORIDA SUPREME COURT APPROVED FAMILY LAW FORM 12.913(a)(2), NOTICE OF ACTION FOR FAMILY CASES WITH MINOR CHILD(REN) (01/12)

When should this form be used?

This form may be used to obtain constructive service (also called service by publication) in an action involving a parenting plan for a minor child under chapter 61, Florida Statutes; an action to determine temporary custody by extended family under chapter 751, Florida Statutes; and termination of a legal father's parental rights when another man is alleged to be the biological father."Parenting plan" means a document created to govern the relationship between the parents relating to decisions that must be made regarding the minor child and must contain a time-sharing schedule for the parents and child. Section 61.046(14), Florida Statutes. You may use constructive service if you do not know where the other party lives or if the other party lives outside Florida and you are unable to obtain personal service. Constructive notice will allow the court to grant the relief requested, but personal service is required before a court can order payment or termination of child support, spousal support (alimony), or costs.

If you are asking the court to decide how real or personal property located in Florida should be divided, the Notice of Action must include a specific description of the property. If you use constructive service, the court can grant only limited relief because its jurisdiction is limited. This is a complicated area of the law and you should consult an attorney before using constructive service.

You should complete this form by typing or printing the appropriate information in black ink. You must insert the other party's name and last known address and then file this form with the clerk of the circuit court in the county where your petition was filed. You must also complete and file an Affidavit of Diligent Search and Inquiry. Use Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure Form 12.913(b) unless you are serving the legal father in a paternity case where another man is alleged to be the biological father, in which case, you must use Form 12.913(c). You should keep a copy for your records.

After the Affidavit of Diligent Search and Inquiry, Family Law Rules of Procedure Form 12.913(b) or 12.913(c), is filed, the clerk will sign this form. You will need to publish notice once each week for four consecutive weeks in a "qualified" newspaper in the county where the case is pending. When in doubt, ask the clerk which newspapers are "qualified." The newspaper will charge you for this service. If you cannot afford to pay the cost of publishing this notice, you may ask the clerk to post the notice at a place designated for such postings. You will need to file an Application for Determination of Civil Indigent Status, which you can obtain from the clerk. If the clerk determines that you cannot afford these costs, the clerk will post the notice of action. If the last known address of the other party is in a different county or state from where your case is pending, you must also publish notice once each week for four consecutive weeks in a "qualified" newspaper located in the county where the other party last resided. If your case involves termination of a legal father's parental rights when another man is alleged to be the biological father, you need to publish the notice only in the county where the legal father was last known to have resided. You are responsible for locating a "qualified" newspaper in the county where the other party last resided and paying the cost of publication.

Instructions for Florida Supreme Court Approved Family Law Form 12.913(a)(2), Notice of Action For Family Cases With Minor Child(ren) (01/12)

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. For further information, see rule 12.070, Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure, rule 1.070, Florida Rules of Civil Procedure, sections ...


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