Filing for Parental Responsibility in Florida: 4 Steps

Parents request orders for a parenting plan, time-sharing schedule and child support by filing a case in family court. This initiates the litigation process.

If you and the other parent agree on all issues, in some cases you can submit your settlement agreement at the same time.

Custody X Change is software that creates parenting plans and custody schedules you can file with the court.

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If you hire a lawyer, they'll prepare and file forms for you. If you're representing yourself, follow the steps below.

Step 1: Complete your forms

The forms below have been approved by the Florida Supreme Court for use in any county. Ask your county clerk's office whether it prefers certain versions or requires additional forms. Some counties may allow you to complete forms online.

All forms should be typed or printed in black ink, and many require you to sign in front of a court clerk or a notary public.

All parental responsibility and time-sharing cases need a Cover Sheet for Family Court Cases, a Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) Affidavit and a Child Support Guidelines Worksheet.

Then complete the forms that apply to your case below.

Your case might also require additional forms.

Step 2: File your forms and pay fees

Your case officially begins when you file the initial petition with your local circuit court. The parent who opens the case is referred to as the petitioner, while the other parent is the respondent. Both are referred to as litigants.

All litigants have the option to submit paperwork in person to the circuit court clerk.

Litigants representing themselves can opt to file through the Florida Courts E-Filing Portal. If you choose this option, the majority of your court communication and paperwork will be electronic. (Review the E-filing rules, noting that forms requiring notarized signatures must be scanned.)

When filing, you have to pay filing and administrative fees. Petitions usually cost between $300 and $500 each. In addition, one parent has to prove that they've been a Florida resident for at least six months by providing a copy of their driver's license, state I.D. card or voter registration card.

The clerk will return copies of paperwork to you for the next step.

Step 3: Serve the other parent

After filing, the petitioner must formally notify the respondent through a process called service.

Take your court paperwork to the sheriff's office or a private processing server to have them deliver it to the respondent. The sheriff generally charges less than a private server. If the other parent can't be located for service, contact the court clerk.

Step 4: Wait for the other parent to respond

The other parent must file a response to your petition (or request an extension) within 20 calendar days of service. They are also required to serve you with copies of their response.

The respondent has the option to contest your petition, which means they challenge some or all of it. They can add a counterpetition to request something not included your filing, or to propose an alternative, such as a different time-sharing arrangement.

Alternatively, the other parent can file an uncontested response, which means they agree with your petition and don't want to challenge anything. They may still file a counterpetition to request something additional, in which case you need to respond by filing an Answer to Counterpetition.

If the other parent doesn't respond or request an extension before the deadline, you can file a Motion for Default. If the judge approves your motion, the case proceeds without the other parent's involvement.

Information for respondents

When you're served with the other parent's petition, you must respond within 20 calendar days.

Your response paperwork depends on your situation. Possible forms include:

You can E-File or submit your response to the clerk's office in person. You also must serve the other parent with copies of your response (instructions in Step 3).

If you miss the deadline and the other parent is granted a default motion, you can file a Motion to Set Aside Default or Default Judgment. You'll need to provide an explanation and evidence for why you didn't respond on time.

Department of Revenue (DOR) Child Support Program

In some circumstances, parents may obtain paternity, child support or time-sharing orders from the Department of Revenue Child Support Program. These orders can be issued in conjunction with orders from your family court case after you follow the steps above.

If parents don't need a divorce or parental responsibility and time-sharing decisions, they can skip the family court steps above and instead go through the DOR's process.

Preparing for what comes next

The next step in the family court process depends on your situation. If parents agree on everything requested in petitions and counterpetitions, they can move on to the settlement process. If your case is contested, the court will order you to mediation.

No matter what's next for you, take advantage of custody technology to be fully prepared.

The Custody X Change app offers a parenting plan template, personalized time-sharing calendars, a shared expenses tracker and more. You can use the app in many ways in Florida: to negotiate, prepare evidence, file for settlement and more.

Be prepared for every step of your case with Custody X Change.

Custody X Change is software that creates parenting plans and custody schedules you can file with the court.

Make My Florida Plan Now

Custody X Change is software that creates parenting plans and custody schedules you can file with the court.

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Custody X Change is software that creates parenting plans and custody schedules you can file with the court.

Make My Florida Plan Now

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