Most people think “Family law” cases are divorces. The truth is that family law cases also include paternity, adoption, and domestic violence cases. There are many websites out there that provide information, but not all are helpful or accurate for your case. Here are some resources, from our firm and court websites, that can help you understand your family law case and decide whether you can represent yourself. Here is some information about the family law case process, links for you to review, and helpful definitions.
The process – This is a flowchart of what a typical family law case will look like.
Links – These links provide helpful and accurate information about family law cases.
- Florida Department of Revenue Child Support – floridarevenue.com/childsupport/Pages/default.aspx
- Parenting Course Providers – www.dcf.state.fl.us/programs/childwelfare/stabilization/
- Pinellas County Website that includes Family Law Information – http://jud6.org/GeneralPublic/RepresentingYourselfInCourt.html
- The Florida Bar website containing the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure – http://www.floridabar.org/
Definitions – This list will explain many of the terms people use when discussing family law cases.
- Party: A party is a generic term for a person involved in a lawsuit. In your case, you are a party and the other person is also a party.
- Summons: The document served on you along with a petition by a process server that lets you know a lawsuit has been filed.
- Petition: This is the document filed that begins the family law case in the court system. This document has numbered paragraphs that state allegations from the filing party’s perspective.
- Answer: This is one type of response to the petition in the case. In the answer the non-filing party admits, denies or states they are without knowledge as to the allegations in each numbered paragraph.
- Motion: There are many types of motions, some examples include motions to dismiss, motion to enlarge time to file a response, etc. A motion is a way of asking the judge to take some action in your case. If a motion is filed, normally the judge is going to require a hearing.
- Mediation: A meeting between you, your attorney, the other party, and their attorney. The mediator tries to help the two parties settle the case with terms everyone agrees with.
- Discovery: Discovery is the overall category of requests for information that take place between the parties. The different types of discovery include a Request for Production, a Request for Admissions, Interrogatories, and Depositions. Discovery is a way of getting more information from the other party. You may want to see additional bank statements or paystubs (Request for Production). You may have some additional questions for the other side (Interrogatories). Discovery provides the responding side at least thirty (30) days to get the information to you. Discovery can sometimes take months to complete.