The Pro Se Litigant – helpful information when representing yourself in Family Court

As a seasoned paralegal, I'm lucky enough to use my own first-hand knowledge and 20 years of experience to assist many Pro Se litigants through their Family Law cases, like ensuring the forms being filed are in proper format and have the necessary required language; setting up the E-Filing and local State Court’s scheduling pro se registration; assisting with scheduling hearings, depositions, mediation and trial; and much more.


However, the State of Florida has a lot of resources for Pro Se litigants – you just have to know where to find them. Hopefully, this will guide you to answer your questions and provide you the necessary tools to get you started in the right direction.


DEFINITION: Pro Se is a Latin word meaning “in one’s own behalf”. The term means you do not have a lawyer and are choosing to represent yourself in a legal proceeding.


Helpful Info To Get Started:

You must follow all courtroom rules and procedures as though you are an attorney practicing in that circuit. You should prepare yourself by researching laws and rules.

You should know and follow the rules relevant to your case.

You must follow the instructions provided in each form you file. Make sure you file all documents required for your case. Provide proof of all requirements.

You are responsible for knowing any local court rules that may affect your case. Local court rules are different in each circuit. Courts also issue administrative orders. Review administrative orders that apply to your case for important requirements. You can often find local rules and administrative orders on the circuit court website.

You alone are responsible for moving the case forward. You are the one who requests a final hearing or trial date. You must also give the other side proper notice for all hearings.


*Review the consumer information and pamphlets provided by The Florida Bar.

*Read Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) and Preparing for Court: Courtroom Expectations.

*Visit a law library for help with research.

*Contact a local Self-Help Center near you for information and help to find resources in your area.

*If you have a family law case, see The Process: What Happens in Court.

Citation and access to the links mentioned above: https://help.flcourts.org/getting-started/


E-Filing: You can register with the Florida Courts E-Filing Portal as a Pro Se Filer. There is no fee to register. The registration page is: https://www.myflcourtaccess.com/common/uipages/register.aspx?rr=5


Forms:

1. You can access most of the required Family Law forms here: https://www.flcourts.org/Resources-Services/Court-Improvement/Family-Courts/Family-Law-Self-Help-Information/Family-Law-Forms

2. There are Self-Help Centers for people you can speak with: https://www.flcourts.org/Resources-Services/Court-Improvement/Family-Courts/Family-Law-Self-Help-Information/Self-Help-Centers-Near-You


Notaries:

You’ll need a Notary Public for some of the forms that you will complete during the course of a Family Law litigated action.

1. In Florida, Notaries are registered through the Florida Division of Corporations. You can search for a Notary in your area here: http://notaries.dos.state.fl.us/not001.html

2. Your local bank has notaries on site, some of which will not charge a fee if you have an account with them.

3. There are several Nationwide companies which have notaries on site. You can expect an approximate charge of $10 per signing.

UPS Store: https://www.theupsstore.com/store-services/notary-services

Amscot: https://www.amscot.com/locations.aspx


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