Pleadings and mandatory electronic filing

AuthorAnnette J. Szorosy/Stephanie Matalon
ProfessionGeneral Magistrate/General Magistrate
Pleadings and Mandatory
Electronic Filing
Pleading practice and procedure is different under the therapeutic justice family court. Family lawyers now
recognize the result of years of acknowledgment that court should be the last resort in family law and trials
are detrimental to their clients and their families. Family lawyers are primarily transactional lawyers rather than
litigators. The goal is to minimize conf‌lict and to promote amicable resolution.
Therefore, narrative pleadings no longer have any relevance in family law. Vanilla pleadings, pleadings which
set forth the bare minimum allegations to sustain a cause of action, are in the best interests of the parties, the
children, and the lawyers. Mandatory Electronic Filing makes the information in pleadings and papers f‌iled
in the court f‌ile more accessible. Family lawyers must protect the privacy of the parties, and their children.
Family law pleadings are now more limited and are a minimal part in the legal dissolution of marriage process.
The family lawyer needs to gather the facts to determine the relevant legal issues and protect the client if there
are emergency issues, but otherwise focus the client on the reasonable conclusion by agreement, rather than
pleadings. This chapter outlines the practice and procedure in the pleading stage of the legal dissolution of
marriage and the impact on the family lawyer in the evolution of therapeutic justice in Florida family law. This
chapter also details electronic f‌iling and the most current changes affecting electronic f‌iling and conf‌identiality
of court records.
A. Overview
§8:01 Advent of Mandatory Electronic Filing
§8:02 What Is Electronic Filing?
§8:03 Prerequisites for Electronic Filing; Def‌inition and Size of Documents
§8:04 Service of Pleadings, Orders, and Electronically Filed Documents
§8:05 Clerk of Court Responsible for Administration of Electronic Filing
§8:06 Payment of Charges
§8:07 Filing Date of Electronically Filed Documents
§8:08 Formatting of Documents
§8:09 Def‌inition of Off‌icial Court File
§8:10 Def‌inition of Originals
§8:11 Physical Media and Transcripts
Florida Family Law and Practice 8-2
§8:12 Self-Represented Parties and Attorneys Excused From E-Mail Service
§8:13 When Manual Transmission to Clerk Is Allowed
§8:14 Filer May Seek Return of a Paper Document; Removal and Recycling
§8:15 Additional Time After Service by Mail Only - No Additional Time by E-Mail
§8:16 Accessibility of Information and Technology
B. The Electronic Filing Portal
§8:20 What Is the eFiling Portal?
§8:21 Registration to Use the eFiling Portal
§8:22 Document Formats Accepted by eFiling Portal
§8:23 Filing Fees and Other Charges for Use of eFiling Portal
§8:24 Resources for Lawyers
§8:25 Staff E-Filing for Their Lawyers
C. Signif‌icant Supreme Court Rules Affecting Electronic Filing
§8:30 Florida Rule of General Practice and Judicial Administration 2.425:
Minimization of the Filing of Sensitive Information
§8:31 Limits on Sensitive Information
§8:32 Exceptions
§8:33 Sanctions and Remedies
§8:34 Florida Rule of General Practice and Judicial Administration 2.420, Sealing Records
§8:35 Other Rule Changes
§8:36 Implementation of Electronic Filing in Practice
§8:37 Applicability of Rules of General Practice and
Judicial Administration to Family Law Rules of Procedure
A. Begin With Judgment
§8:50 In General
§8:51 Narrative Pleadings
§8:52 Concerns for Lawyer
§8:53 Moakley Sanctions
§8:54 Malicious Prosecution
§8:55 Section 57.105, Florida Statutes
§8:56 Concerns for Client and Family
§8:57 Impact of Duty of Candor
B. Vanilla Pleadings
§8:70 Overview
§8:71 Pleadings in General
§8:72 Petition in General
§8:73 Response in General
§8:74 Aff‌irmative Defenses and Reply
§8:75 Common Pleading Errors
C. Parties
§8:80 Parties in General
§8:81 Who May Be Party
§8:82 Additional Parties; Joinder
§8:83 Corporations
§8:84 Partnerships
§8:85 Trusts
§8:86 Third Parties
§8:87 Children and Incompetent Persons
§8:88 Additional Parties When Counterclaim Is Filed
§8:89 Misjoinder
§8:90 Dropping Parties
§8:91 Adding Parties Upon Amendment
§8:92 Consequences of Failure to Join Party
8-3 Pleadings and Mandatory Electronic Filing
D. Formalistic Requirements
§8:100 Style and Caption
§8:101 Counter Petitions and Crossclaims
§8:102 Body
§8:103 Signature and Verif‌ication
§8:104 Exhibits
§8:105 Approved Forms
E. Additional Filing Requirements
§8:110 Family Court Cover Sheet
§8:111 Memorandum for Certif‌icate of Military Service
§8:112 Nonmilitary Aff‌idavit
§8:113 Notice of Social Security Number
§8:114 Aff‌idavit of Corroborating Witness
§8:115 UCCJEA Aff‌idavit
§8:116 Financial Aff‌idavit
§8:117 Child Support Guidelines Worksheet
§8:118 Parenting Course Certif‌icate
§8:119 Notice of Related Cases
§8:120 Limited Appearance
F. Considerations Before Filing
§8:130 Therapeutic Justice Considerations
§8:131 Shift Focus From Emotions to Law
§8:132 Effect on Timing for Filing Pleading
§8:133 Effect on Content of Pleading
§8:134 Strategies for Denial or Sad Stages
§8:135 Strategies for Crazy or “Off the Wall” Stages
§8:136 Strategies for Recovery Stages
§8:137 Effect on Potential Audiences
§8:138 Strategies for Client’s “Support Group”
§8:139 Strategies for Parties and Their “Support Group”
§8:140 Employers and Prospective Employers
§8:141 Internal Revenue Service
§8:142 Children
§8:143 Public Records and Internet
§8:144 Future Points in Time
§8:145 Opposing Counsel
§8:146 Interventions and Contact in Lieu of Pleading
§8:147 Case Management Conference in Lieu of Pleading
G. Dealing With Self-Represented Respondent
§8:160 Signing of Pleadings
§8:161 Copies to Other Side
§8:162 Party in the Military
§8:163 Petitioner Knowledge of Respondent Intent to File
§8:164 Self-Represented Respondent’s “Paper” to Court File
A. Basic Points
§8:170 In General
§8:171 Uncontested Matter
§8:172 Restoration of Party’s Former Name
§8:173 Simplif‌ied Dissolution of Marriage Procedure
B. Parental Responsibility
§8:180 In General
§8:181 Parenting Plan
§8:181.1 Title IV-D Standard Parenting Time Plan

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