Pro Se means that you do not have a lawyer and are choosing to represent yourself in a legal proceeding. Florida laws and rules can be complex and oftentimes confusing if you do not have background or training in the law. In addition, there are often crucial issues at stake such as division of property and debt and the custody, visitation and support of children. For these reasons, it is always best to consult with an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, you may want to contact your local legal services provider or Bar Association to inquire about free or discounted legal representation.
Packets with instructions and forms for Pro Se litigants are available through the clerk of court in each county for most or all of following types of actions: adult adoption, stepparent adoption, dissolution of marriage, establish visitation, establish paternity, temporary custody, temporary support connected or unconnected with dissolution of marriage; modify alimony, child support, custody or visitation; enforcement of court orders on family issues; name change for child, adult or family. You will find links at the bottom of this page to each of the county clerks in the first circuit. Some counties will have all the packets and forms on the website, and some will not. If they do not have the packets, you will need to go to your county clerk’s office to purchase the appropriate packets, forms and/or instructions.
It is important to remember that when you petition the Court, Pro Se, you alone are responsible for moving the case toward a final hearing date. This means that you must follow the instructions very carefully, file all mandatory documents, provide proof of all requirements, move the court to order the other party to fulfill his/her requirements (when necessary), request a hearing or trial date, etc. As the petitioner, Pro Se, you will be required to comply with the Florida Family Law Rules of Civil Procedure and with the instructions provided in your packet. The first circuit also has administrative orders governing family court cases related to attending an approved Parenting Course, Shared Parental Responsibility and other matters. Review of these administrative orders is highly recommended, as they may contain important requirements related to your case.
Pro Se Court Program Specialists are available in each county in the first circuit to provide information, assistance, guidance and referral services related to family law forms, procedures, court processes, mandatory requirements, legal services, social services and other community resources. Family Court personnel are not attorneys, however; and they cannot:
- Give you legal advice.
- Represent you in court.
- Tell you what to say or write.
- Tell you your legal rights or remedies.
- Tell you how to testify in court.
If you have questions about specific legal rights, you must seek legal advice from an attorney. Please also understand that any and all information provided to Family Court personnel is considered public information, and there is no confidential relationship between Family Court personnel and litigants.
DCF Parenting Course List
Supreme Court Family Law Forms
Rules of Procedure