Get Started

Tips Before You StartStep 1: Read the InstructionsStep 2: Review the LawStep 3: Find the Form(s)Step 4: Fill Out the Form(s)Step 5: File the form(s)GO DIRECTLY TO FORMS


About Representing Yourself: Before you start

Terms you may hear if you are going to court without a lawyer are Pro-Se and Self-Represented Litigant.

  • Pro-Se means “for oneself” or “on behalf of oneself.”
  • Self-Represented Litigant means any person who seeks information to file, pursue, or respond to a family law case without the assistance of a lawyer authorized to practice before the court.

Need Help? Get legal advice at low or not cost.This means that you do not have a lawyer and are choosing to represent yourself in a legal proceeding.

In many cases, there are often crucial issues at stake such as dividing property and debt and the custody, visitation, and support of children.

For these reasons, it is always best to talk to a lawyer when things get complicated and confusing. If you cannot afford a lawyer, legal help is available at free or reduced fees.

IMPORTANT: As a Pro Se Petitioner – 

  1. You must follow all courtroom rules and procedures as though you are an attorney practicing in that circuit. You should prepare yourself by doing your “homework” and researching laws and rules.
  2. You should know and follow the rules found in the Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure.
  3. You must follow the instructions provided in each form you file. Make sure you file all mandatory documents for your case. Provide proof of all requirements. If necessary, ask the court to order the other party to meet his or her requirements.
  4. 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 for family cases for important requirements. (To attend an approved parenting course, for example.) You can find rules and orders on the circuit court website.
  5. You alone are responsible for moving the case forward. You are the one who requests a final hearing or trial date.

TIPS TO GET STARTED:


Step 1: Read the General Information & Instructions

Florida laws and rules can be complex and can be confusing if you do not have background or training in the law.

To get started, begin by reading the documents below.

  1. Read the instructions found in the General Information for Self-Represented Litigants (pdf) document. Most of the information found in this document is not repeated in the form instructions.
  2. Read What Happens in Court to understand the steps involved a case.
  3. Read the Commentary About the Forms and Instructions for more legal information.

How to read the forms and instructions: The General Information for Self-Represented Litigants (pdf) document is not the only place where you can get information about how a family case works.  You may want to look at other resources for more help. The Florida Statutes, Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure, Florida Rules of Civil Procedure, and other legal information (SEE LINKS BELOW) may be found online at the public library, in a law library at your county courthouse or a law school in your area.

If you need a form that is not listed, you will need to review other resources or prepare your own motion. To do this, you will need to either consult the Florida Statutes and rules or seek the advice of an attorney. Local Family Law or Self-Help Centers may be able to assist you.


Step 2: Review the Law – Florida Statutes and Rules of Court

This is not intended as a substitute for legal advice from an attorney.  Each case has its own particular set of circumstances, and an attorney may advise you of what is best for you in your individual situation.

Forms are to be used along with the Florida Statutes and the Rules of Procedure. These resources are very important. Please take the time to review them as they provide additional information and forms you may need.

Find a Law Library Near You

Note on Rules of Court Procedure: Different case types have different rules of procedure. For example, dependency and delinquency cases are governed by the Rules of Juvenile Procedure, whereas dissolution of marriage cases are governed by the Family Law Rules of Procedure.

The Florida Bar provides links to all the various rules of court procedure for Florida courts on their website.

More information may be found online at the public library, a law library at the county courthouse or a law school library in your area. Local Family Law or Self-Help Centers and law libraries may be able to assist you.


Step 3: Find Your Form(s) – You may need more than one

Go to Forms

  • To find the right form, read the instructions on the first page of each form to determine if you have the right form.
  • The instructions to the form, Petition, Supplemental (modification) Petition, or Answer in your case will list the other forms you will need to file.
  • Review the Family Forms Frequently Asked Questions if you still need help.

Apply for Civil Indigent StatusFEE WAIVER: You may apply to the clerk of the court for a fee waiver. In addition to the waiver of filing fees, you may also qualify to waive the $10.00 fee for the Summons for Service of Process; and the service of process fee for a sheriff to deliver documents to another party.

Fill out this FEE WAIVER form: Application for Determination of Civil Indigent Status


Step 4: Fill Out the Forms

  • Complete the forms you’re required to file.
  • Review the Family Forms Frequently Asked Questions if you still need help.
  • All Family Law Forms are provided in both RTF and PDF format. (RTF documents can be opened in Word or other text editing software.)
  • All PDF forms on the Florida Courts website contain fillable form fields.
    • This means that you can complete forms on your computer or mobile device by typing information into the form fields.  You can then print your completed form(s), sign and notarize them as required and submit the form to the clerk’s office via regular mail, in person or by scanning the signed PDF and electronically eFiling.

ADOBE ACROBAT – For computer and mobile devicesInstall Acrobat Reader

If fillable form fields ARE NOT VISIBLE when you open the PDF form, you do not have Adobe Reader installed. In order to take advantage of this feature, YOU MUST have a PDF reader installed. We recommend that you install Adobe Acrobat Reader. https://get.adobe.com/reader/

For technical help downloading and accessing forms, please call (850) 488 -8624.

If you have a question about navigating the court system without a lawyer, contact us at selfhelp@flcourts.org or call (850) 921-0004.


Step 5: File the Form(s)

  • Once complete, file the forms with the Clerk of Court’s office in the appropriate county or online using the Florida Courts E-Filing Portal.
  • Follow the instructions for your forms. These explain how to have the other party served (not required in all cases), and advise you to make copies of your forms before they are filed, etc.
  • If you have further questions about how to have the other party served, the forms filed, etc., you may contact the Clerk’s Office to answer those questions.