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Court amends family law summary judgment rule to better inform self-represented litigants

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Supreme Court of FloridaThe Supreme Court has amended Florida Family Law Rule of Procedure 12.510 to provide more information to self-represented litigants regarding summary judgment actions.

“First, we amend subdivision (a) (Motion for Summary Judgment or Partial Summary Judgment) to require a detailed explanation for pro se parties of the need to respond to a summary judgment motion,” the court said. “Next, we amend subdivision (b) (Time to File) to provide that no motion for summary judgment may be filed while the movant’s responses to mandatory disclosures are pending.”

The court, acting on its own motion in July 2021, adopted its civil summary judgment standards into the family law rules to conform with changes it made in 2017 to Florida Rule of Civil Procedure 1.510 when it basically adopted the federal summary judgment standard.

The amendments to Rule 12.510 became effective immediately; however, because they were not published for comment before being adopted, the court invited comments and held oral argument and made the latest change after considering those comments.

As he did in the 2017 civil rules case and the 2021 family law rule of procedure case, Justice Jorge Labarga again dissented, saying he agreed with the comment submitted in opposition by the Family Law Rules Committee, which emphasized the unique context of family law cases.

“Because of this unique context, and the carefully crafted procedural and statutory requirements that apply to it, the federal summary judgment standard is not a good fit,” Labarga said.

The court acted February 10 in In Re: Amendments to Florida Family Law Rule of Procedure, Case No. 12.510.

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