Florida Supreme Court Adopts New Family Law Rules
Earlier this year, the Family Law Rules Committee filed a report with the Florida Supreme Court, recommending that it create a stand-alone set of rules to govern family law proceedings. These changes will have a significant impact on how cases proceed, so if you are involved in a divorce, adoption, or other family law-related matter, it is important to speak with an experienced family law attorney who can explain the most important rules and ensure that your petition is filed correctly and in accordance with the new procedures.
Separate Set of Rules
One of the biggest changes proposed by the committee was to create a stand-alone set of Family Law Rules and Procedure. This change was largely attributed to the fact that over the last 20 years, the concept of family law has grown to cover a variety of distinct and wide ranging issues. Instead of just dealing with divorces, family law courts are now required to decide questions of paternity, settle disputes over time-sharing and visitation, address complaints of domestic violence, and ensure that all court orders are enforced. The committee also argued that creating stand-alone rules would help litigants who handle their own cases, as they would no longer be required to reference multiple sets of rules.
Appointing a Guardian Ad Litem
The new rules also further explain when courts have the discretion to appoint a guardian ad litem for a minor or incompetent person. Prior to the changes, courts were required to appoint a guardian for the protection of a minor in certain cases. Under the new rule changes, courts are granted discretion in choosing when to appoint a guardian. However, there are still separate statutes in place that require the appointment of a guardian in specific situations. For example, judges must appoint a guardian in a divorce proceeding if they find that it is in the best interest of the child or if there are allegations of child abuse.
Under the new rules, parties involved in a family law matter can respond to interrogatories, or questions from the other party, by providing access to records, including electronically stored information. While production of relevant records is considered a sufficient answer and can replace a written response, parties are still required to specify which records the other party should review and must offer to provide them with a reasonable opportunity to examine, audit, or inspect the documents.
Call Today to Discuss Your Case With a Dedicated Family Law Attorney
The new family law rules incorporate important changes in how a petition must be filed, when the court can appoint a guardian for a child, what types of financial records must be produced during discovery, and when the court can issue a protective order. These are only a few of the changes that were addressed by the Court earlier this year. As such, if you are considering filing for divorce or have a question about another family law matter in Fort Lauderdale, please call Sandra Bonfiglio, P.A. at 954-945-7591 to schedule a free case evaluation.