Family Law – Florida Definitions
Below are family law definitions as defined in Florida’s Statutory law and from the Florida State Court System website. These terms are some of the most often used terms in the Family law courts throughout Florida. A few of the terms have two definitions due to each resource using the term in a different, but related, manner.
Note: These definitions are not intended to be legal advice nor do they address every possible meaning of the term(s) contained in this index. These definitions are for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Florida law is always changing. Therefore, we strongly recommend talking with an experienced Florida family law attorney to learn your rights.
Abandoned – means a situation in which the parent or person having legal custody of a child, while being able, makes little or no provision for the child’s support or makes little or no effort to communicate with the child, which situation is sufficient to evince an intent to reject parental responsibilities. If, in the opinion of the court, the efforts of such parent or person having legal custody of the child to support and communicate with the child are only marginal efforts that do not evince a settled purpose to assume all parental duties, the court may declare the child to be abandoned. In making this decision, the court may consider the conduct of a father towards the child’s mother during her pregnancy.
Abandoned – means left without provision for reasonable and necessary care or supervision.
Address – means a residential street address, school address, or work address of an individual, as specified on the individual’s application to be a program participant under ss. 741.401-741.409.
Adoption – means the act of creating the legal relationship between parent and child where it did not exist, thereby declaring the child to be legally the child of the adoptive parents and their heir at law and entitled to all the rights and privileges and subject to all the obligations of a child born to such adoptive parents in lawful wedlock.
Adoption entity – means the department, a child-caring agency registered under s. 409.176, an intermediary, a Florida child-placing agency licensed under s. 63.202, or a child-placing agency licensed in another state which is licensed by the department to place children in the State of Florida.
Adoption plan – means an arrangement made by a birth parent or other individual having a legal right to custody of a minor, born or to be born, with an adoption entity in furtherance of placing the minor for adoption.
Adult – means a person who is not a minor.
Affidavit – a written statement in which the facts stated are sworn or affirmed to be true.
Agency – means any child-placing agency licensed by the department pursuant to s. 63.202 to place minors for adoption.
Alimony– spousal support which may be ordered by the court in a proceeding for dissolution of marriage. Types of alimony include: bridge-the-gap, durational, rehabilitative, or retroactive, and may be either temporary or permanent. The court may order periodic payments, payment in lump sum, or both. In determining whether to award alimony, the court must determine whether either party has an actual need for alimony and whether the other party has the ability to pay. The court must consider the factors set forth in section 61.08, Florida Statutes, and must make certain written findings. An alimony award may not leave the paying party with significantly less net income than that of the receiving party without written findings of exceptional circumstances.
Answer – written response by a respondent that states whether he or she admits (agrees with) or denies (disagrees with) the allegations in the petition. Any allegations not specifically denied are considered to be admitted.
Appeal – asking a district court of appeal to review the decision in your case. There are strict procedural and time requirements for filing an appeal.
Asset – everything owned by you or your spouse, including property, cars, furniture, bank accounts, jewelry, life insurance policies, businesses, or retirement plans. An asset may be marital or nonmarital, but that distinction is for the court to determine if you and your spouse do not agree.
Assisted reproductive technology – means those procreative procedures which involve the laboratory handling of human eggs or preembryos, including, but not limited to, in vitro fertilization-embryo transfer, gamete intrafallopian transfer, pronuclear stage transfer, tubal embryo transfer, and zygote intrafallopian transfer.
Attorney – a person with special education and training in the field of law who is a member in good standing of The Florida Bar and licensed to practice law in Florida. An attorney is the only person who is allowed to give you legal advice. An attorney may file your case and represent you in court, or just advise you of your rights before you file your own case. In addition to advising you of your rights, an attorney may tell you what to expect and help prepare you for court. In family law matters, you are not entitled to a court-appointed lawyer, like a public defender in a criminal case. However, legal assistance is often available for those who are unable to hire a private attorney.
Beneficiary Designation – Florida law provides that a beneficiary designation made by or on behalf of a party providing for the payment or transference of an asset or benefit upon his or her death to the other spouse is void when the final judgment dissolving or declaring a marriage invalid is signed unless the final judgment specifically states otherwise. Federal law and other statutory provisions may also apply. This includes, but is not limited to, such assets as life insurance policies, annuities, employee benefit plans, individual retirement accounts, and payable-on-death accounts. Whether or not to continue a beneficiary designation is a complex area of the law and you may wish to consult with an attorney.
Bond – money paid to the clerk of court by one party in a case, to be held and paid to an enjoined party in the event that the first party causes loss or damage of property as a result of wrongfully enjoining the other party.
Bridge-the-Gap Alimony – spousal support which is ordered to assist a party to make the transition from being married to being single. Bridge-the-Gap alimony is designed to assist a party with legitimate, identifiable short-time needs; its length cannot exceed two years and it cannot be modified.
Business day – means any day other than a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday.
Caretaking authority – means the right to live with and care for a child on a day-to-day basis. The term includes physical custody, parenting time, right to access, time-sharing, and visitation.
Central Depository – the office of the clerk of court that is responsible for collecting and disbursing court-ordered alimony and child support payments. The depository also keeps payment records and files judgments if support is not paid.
Certified Copy – a copy of an order or final judgment, certified by the clerk of the circuit court to be an authentic copy.
Certified Mail – mail that requires the receiving party to sign as proof that they received it.
Certificate of Service – a document that must be filed whenever a form you are using does not contain a statement for you to fill in showing to whom you are sending copies of the form. Florida Supreme Court Approved Family Law Form 12.914 is the certificate of service form and contains additional instructions.
Child – means any unmarried person under the age of 18 years who has not been emancipated by court order.
Child – means an individual who has not attained 18 years of age.
Child – means any person who is under the jurisdiction of a state court pursuant to the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act or is the subject of any order granting to a parent or other person any right to time-sharing, residential care, kinship, or custody, as provided under state law.
Child custody determination – means a judgment, decree, or other order of a court providing for the legal custody, physical custody, residential care, or visitation with respect to a child. The term includes a permanent, temporary, initial, and modification order. The term does not include an order relating to child support or other monetary obligation of an individual.
Child custody proceeding – means a proceeding in which legal custody, physical custody, residential care, or visitation with respect to a child is an issue. The term includes a proceeding for divorce, separation, neglect, abuse, dependency, guardianship, paternity, termination of parental rights, and protection from domestic violence, in which the issue may appear. The term does not include a proceeding involving juvenile delinquency, contractual emancipation, or enforcement under ss. 61.524-61.540.
Child Support – money paid from one parent to the other for the benefit of their dependent or minor child(ren).
Clerk of the Circuit Court – elected official in whose office papers are filed, a case number is assigned, and case files are maintained. The clerk’s office usually is located in the county courthouse.
Clerk of Court Child Support Collection System or CLERC System – means the automated system established pursuant to s. 61.181(2)(b)1., integrating all clerks of court and depositories and through which payment data and State Case Registry data is transmitted to the department’s automated child support enforcement system.
Collaborative attorney – means an attorney who represents a party in a collaborative law process.
Collaborative law communication – means an oral or written statement, including a statement made in a record, or nonverbal conduct that: Is made in the conduct of or in the course of participating in, continuing, or reconvening for a collaborative law process; and
(b) Occurs after the parties sign a collaborative law participation agreement and before the collaborative law process is concluded or terminated.
Collaborative law participation agreement – means an agreement between persons to participate in a collaborative law process.
Collaborative law process – means a process intended to resolve a collaborative matter without intervention by a tribunal and in which persons sign a collaborative law participation agreement and are represented by collaborative attorneys.
Collaborative matter – means a dispute, a transaction, a claim, a problem, or an issue for resolution, including a dispute, a claim, or an issue in a proceeding which is described in a collaborative law participation agreement and arises under chapter 61 or chapter 742, including, but not limited to:
(a) Marriage, divorce, dissolution, annulment, and marital property distribution.
(b) Child custody, visitation, parenting plan, and parenting time.
(c) Alimony, maintenance, and child support.
(d) Parental relocation with a child.
(e) Parentage and paternity.
(f) Premarital, marital, and post-marital
Commencement – means the filing of the first pleading in a proceeding.
Commissioning couple – means the intended mother and father of a child who will be conceived by means of assisted reproductive technology using the eggs or sperm of at least one of the intended parents.
Communication – means an oral or written statement, or nonverbal conduct intended to make an assertion, by or to a parenting coordinator, a participant, or a party made during parenting coordination, or before parenting coordination if made in furtherance of the parenting coordination process. The term does not include the commission of a crime during parenting coordination.
Concurrent Custody – (for the purposes of a petition filed pursuant to chapter 751, Florida Statutes) means that an eligible extended family member is awarded custodial rights to care for a child or children concurrently with the child(ren)’s parent or parents.
Constructive Service – notification of the other party by newspaper publication or posting of notice at designated places when the other party cannot be located for personal service. You may also be able to use constructive service when the other party lives in another state. Constructive service is also called “service by publication.” However, when constructive service is used, the relief the Court may grant is limited; that relief cannot include either alimony or child support. For more information on service, see the instructions for Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure Forms 12.910(a) and 12.913(b) and Florida Supreme Court Approved Family Law Form 12.913(a).
Contested Issues – any or all issues upon which the parties are unable to agree and which must be resolved by the judge at a hearing or trial.
Contingent Asset – an asset that you may receive or get later, such as income, tax refund, accrued vacation or sick leave, a bonus, or an inheritance.
Contingent Liability – a liability that you may owe later, such as payments for lawsuits, unpaid taxes, or debts that you have agreed or guaranteed to pay if someone else does not.
Counterpetition – a written request to the court for legal action, which is filed by a respondent after being served with a petition.
Court – means an entity authorized under the laws of a state to establish, enforce, or modify a child custody determination.
Court – means the circuit court in an original proceeding which has proper venue and jurisdiction in accordance with the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act, the circuit court in the county in which either parent and the child reside, or the circuit court in which the original action was adjudicated.
Court – means a circuit court of this state and, if the context requires, the court of any state that is empowered to grant petitions for adoption.
Custody Order – a judgment or order incorporating a Parenting Plan is a child custody determination for the purposes of the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act, the International Child Abduction Remedies Act, 42 U.S.C. ss. 11601 et seq., the Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act, and the Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction enacted at the Hague on October 25, 1980.
Default – a failure of a party to respond to the pleading of another party. This failure to respond may allow the court to decide the case without input from the party who did not appear or respond.
Delinquent – late.
Department – means the Department of Revenue.
Department – means the Department of Children and Families.
Dependent Child(ren) – child(ren) who depend on their parent(s) for support either because they are under the age of 18, have a mental or physical disability that prevents them from supporting themselves, or are in high school, between the ages of 18 and 19, and performing in good faith with a reasonable expectation of graduation before the age of 19.
Deputy Clerk – an employee of the office of the clerk of court, which is usually located in the county courthouse or a branch of the county courthouse.
Depository – means the central governmental depository established pursuant to s. 61.181, created by a special act of the Legislature or other entity established before June 1, 1985, to perform depository functions and to receive, record, report, disburse, monitor, and otherwise handle alimony and child support payments not otherwise required to be processed by the State Disbursement Unit.
Department – means the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
Dissolution of Marriage – divorce; a court action to end a marriage.
Domestic violence – means any assault, aggravated assault, battery, aggravated battery, sexual assault, sexual battery, stalking, aggravated stalking, kidnapping, false imprisonment, or any criminal offense resulting in physical injury or death of one family or household member by another family or household member.
Domestic violence – means an act as defined in s. 741.28 and includes a threat of such acts committed against an individual in a domestic situation, regardless of whether these acts or threats have been reported to law enforcement officers.
Durational Alimony – spousal support which is ordered to provide economic assistance for a set period of time following a marriage of short or moderate duration or following a marriage of long duration if there is no ongoing need for support on a permanent basis. Durational alimony terminates upon the death of either party or upon remarriage of the party receiving support. It may be modified or terminated, but cannot exceed the length of a marriage.
Egg – means the unfertilized female reproductive cell.
Electronic communication – means contact, other than face-to-face contact, facilitated by tools such as telephones, electronic mail or e-mail, webcams, video-conferencing equipment and software or other wired or wireless technologies, or other means of communication to supplement face-to-face contact between a parent and that parent’s minor child.
Enjoined – prohibited by the court from doing a specific act.
Ex Parte – communication with the judge by only one party. In order for a judge to speak with either party, the other party must have been properly notified and have an opportunity to be heard. If you have something you wish to tell the judge, you should ask for a hearing or file information in the clerk of court’s office, with certification that a copy was sent to the other party.
Extended Family – (for the purposes of a petition filed pursuant to chapter 751, Florida Statutes) is a person who is either:
- A relative of a minor child within the third degree by blood or marriage to the parent; OR
- The stepparent of a minor child if the stepparent is currently married to the parent of the child and is not a party in a pending dissolution, separate maintenance, domestic violence, or other civil or criminal proceeding in any court of competent jurisdiction involving one or both of the child’s parents as an adverse party.
Family Law Intake Staff – a court’s employee(s) who is (are) available to assist you in filing a family law case. Family law intake staff are not attorneys and cannot give legal advice. They may only assist you with filling out the form(s). Your local clerk’s office can tell you if your county has such assistance available.
Family or household member – means spouses, former spouses, persons related by blood or marriage, persons who are presently residing together as if a family or who have resided together in the past as if a family, and persons who are parents of a child in common regardless of whether they have been married. With the exception of persons who have a child in common, the family or household members must be currently residing or have in the past resided together in the same single dwelling unit.
Federal Case Registry of Child Support Orders – means the automated registry of support order abstracts and other information established and maintained by the United States Department of Health and Human Services as provided by 42 U.S.C. s. 653(h).
Fertilization – means the initial union of an egg and sperm.
Filing – delivering a petition, response, motion, or other pleading in a court case to the clerk of court’s office.
Filing Fee – an amount of money, set by law, that the petitioner must pay when filing a case. If you cannot afford to pay the fee, you must file an Application for Determination of Civil Indigent Status, to ask the clerk to file your case without payment of the fee. This form can be obtained from the clerk’s office.
Financial Affidavit – a sworn statement that contains information regarding your income, expenses, assets, and liabilities.
Final Hearing – trial in your case.
Final Judgment – a written document signed by a judge and recorded in the clerk of the circuit court’s office that contains the judge’s decision in your case.
Gamete intrafallopian transfe – means the direct transfer of eggs and sperm into the fallopian tube prior to fertilization.
Gestational surrogacy – means a state that results from a process in which a commissioning couple’s eggs or sperm, or both, are mixed in vitro and the resulting pre-embryo is implanted within another woman’s body.
Gestational surrogacy contract – means a written agreement between the gestational surrogate and the commissioning couple.
Gestational surrogate – means a woman who contracts to become pregnant by means of assisted reproductive technology without the use of an egg from her body.
Guardian ad Litem – a neutral person who may be appointed by the court to evaluate or investigate your child’s situation, and file a report with the court about what is in the best interests of your child(ren). Guardians do not “work for” either party. The guardian may interview the parties, visit their homes, visit the child(ren)’s school(s) and speak with teachers, or use other resources to make their recommendation.
Health insurance – means coverage under a fee-for-service arrangement, health maintenance organization, or preferred provider organization, and other types of coverage available to either parent, under which medical services could be provided to a dependent child.
Health Insurance – coverage under a fee-for-service arrangement, health care maintenance organization, or preferred provider organization, and other types of coverage available to either parent, under which medical services could be provided to a minor or dependent child.
Hearing – a legal proceeding before a judge or designated officer (general magistrate or hearing officer) on a motion.
Home state – means the state in which a child lived with a parent or a person acting as a parent for at least 6 consecutive months immediately before the commencement of a child custody proceeding. In the case of a child younger than 6 months of age, the term means the state in which the child lived from birth with any of the persons mentioned. A period of temporary absence of any of the mentioned persons is part of the period.
Implantation – means the event that occurs when a fertilized egg adheres to the uterine wall for nourishment.
Intermediary – means an attorney who is licensed or authorized to practice in this state and who is placing or intends to place a child for adoption, including placing children born in another state with citizens of this state or country or placing children born in this state with citizens of another state or country.
In vitro – refers to a laboratory procedure performed in an artificial environment outside a woman’s body.
In vitro fertilization embryo transfer – means the transfer of an in vitro fertilized pre-embryo into a woman’s uterus.
Income – means any form of payment to an individual, regardless of source, including, but not limited to: wages, salary, commissions and bonuses, compensation as an independent contractor, worker’s compensation, disability benefits, annuity and retirement benefits, pensions, dividends, interest, royalties, trusts, and any other payments, made by any person, private entity, federal or state government, or any unit of local government. United States Department of Veterans Affairs disability benefits and reemployment assistance or unemployment compensation, as defined in chapter 443, are excluded from this definition of income except for purposes of establishing an amount of support.
Initial determination – means the first child custody determination concerning a particular child.
Issuing court – means the court that makes a child custody determination for which enforcement is sought under this part.
Issuing state – means the state in which a child custody determination is made.
IV-D – means services provided pursuant to Title IV-D of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. ss. 651 et seq.
Judge – an elected official who is responsible for deciding matters on which you and the other parties in your case are unable to agree. A judge is a neutral person who is responsible for ensuring that your case is resolved in a manner which is fair, equitable, and legal. A judge is prohibited by law from giving you or the other party any legal advice, recommendations, or other assistance, and may not talk to either party unless both parties are present, represented, or at a properly scheduled hearing.
Judicial Assistant – the judge’s personal staff assistant.
Liabilities – everything owed by you or your spouse, including mortgages, credit cards, or car loans. A liability may be marital or nonmarital, but that distinction is for the court to determine if you and your spouse do not agree.
Law enforcement officer – means any person who is elected, appointed, or employed by any municipality or the state or any political subdivision thereof who meets the minimum qualifications established in s. 943.13 and is certified as a law enforcement officer under s. 943.1395.
Law firm – means: One or more attorneys who practice law in a partnership, professional corporation, sole proprietorship, limited liability company, or association; or
(b) One or more attorneys employed in a legal services organization, the legal department of a corporation or other organization, or the legal department of a governmental entity, subdivision, agency, or instrumentality.
Legal custody – has the meaning ascribed in s. 39.01.
Local officer – means an elected or appointed constitutional or charter government official including, but not limited to, the state attorney and clerk of the circuit court.
Lump-Sum Alimony – money ordered to be paid by one spouse to another in a limited number of payments, often a single payment.
Mandatory Disclosure – items that must be disclosed by both parties except those exempted from disclosure by Florida Family Law Rule 12.285.
Marital Asset – generally, anything that you and/or your spouse acquired or received (by gift or purchase) during the marriage. For example, something you owned before your marriage may be nonmarital. An asset may only be determined to be marital by agreement of the parties or determination of the judge.
Marital Liability – generally, any debt that you and/or your spouse incurred during the marriage. A debt may only be determined to be nonmarital by agreement of the parties or determination of the judge.
Mediator – a person who is trained and certified to assist parties in reaching an agreement before going to court. Mediators do not take either party’s side and are not allowed to give legal advice. They are only responsible for helping the parties reach an agreement and putting that agreement into writing. In some areas, mediation of certain family law cases may be required before going to court.
Modification – means a child custody determination that changes, replaces, supersedes, or is otherwise made after a previous determination concerning the same child, regardless of whether it is made by the court that made the previous determination.
Modification – a change made by the court in an order or final judgment.
Motion – a request made to the court, other than a petition.
National medical support notice – means the notice required under 42 U.S.C. s. 666(a)(19).
No Contact – a court order directing a party not speak to, call, send mail to, visit, or go near his or her spouse, ex-spouse, child(ren), or other family member.
Nonlawyer – a person who is not a member in good standing of The Florida Bar.
Nonmarital Asset – generally, anything owned separately by you or your spouse. An asset may only be determined to be nonmarital by either agreement of the parties or determination of the judge.
Nonmarital Liability – generally, any debt that you or your spouse incurred before your marriage or since your separation. A debt may only be determined to be nonmarital by either agreement of the parties or determination of the judge.
Nonparty – a person who is not the petitioner or respondent in a court case.
Nonparty participant – means a person, other than a party and the party’s collaborative attorney, who participates in a collaborative law process.
Notary Public – a person authorized to witness signatures on court-related forms.
Obligee – means the person to whom payments are made pursuant to an order establishing, enforcing, or modifying an obligation for alimony, for child support, or for alimony and child support.
Obligee – a person to whom money, such as child support or alimony, is owed.
Obligor – means a person responsible for making payments pursuant to an order establishing, enforcing, or modifying an obligation for alimony, for child support, or for alimony and child support.
Obligor – a person who is ordered by the court to pay money, such as child support or alimony.
Office – means the Office of the State Courts Administrator.
Order – a written decision, signed by a judge and filed in the clerk of the circuit court’s office, that contains the judge’s decision on part of your case, usually on a motion.
Original Petition – see Petition.
Other person – means an individual who is not the parent, but with whom the child resides pursuant to court order, or who has the right of access to, time-sharing with, or visitation with the child.
Parent – means a woman who gives birth to a child and who is not a gestational surrogate as defined in s. 742.13 or a man whose consent to the adoption of the child would be required under s. 63.062(1). If a child has been legally adopted, the term “parent” means the adoptive mother or father of the child. The term does not include an individual whose parental relationship to the child has been legally terminated or an alleged or prospective parent.
Parent – means any person so named by court order or express written agreement who is subject to court enforcement or a person reflected as a parent on a birth certificate and who is entitled to access to or time-sharing with the child.
Parenting coordination – means a non-adversarial dispute resolution process that is court-ordered or agreed upon by the parties.
Parenting coordinator – means an impartial third party appointed by the court or agreed to by the parties whose role is to assist the parties in successfully creating or implementing a parenting plan.
Parenting Coordinator Review Board – means the board appointed by the Chief Justice of the Florida Supreme Court to consider complaints against qualified and court-appointed parenting coordinators.
Parenting Course – a class that teaches parents how to help their child(ren) cope with divorce and other family issues.
Parenting plan – means a document created to govern the relationship between the parents relating to decisions that must be made regarding the minor child and must contain a time-sharing schedule for the parents and child. The issues concerning the minor child may include, but are not limited to, the child’s education, health care, and physical, social, and emotional well-being. In creating the plan, all circumstances between the parents, including their historic relationship, domestic violence, and other factors must be taken into consideration.
Parenting Plan – a document created to govern the relationship between the parents relating to the decisions that must be made regarding the minor child(ren). The Parenting Plan must contain a time-sharing schedule for the parents and child(ren) and shall address the issues concerning the minor child(ren). The issues concerning the minor child(ren) may include, but are not limited to, the child(ren)’s education, health care, and physical, social, and emotional well-being. In creating the Plan, all circumstances between the parents, including their historic relationship, domestic violence, and other factors must be taken into consideration. The Parenting Plan must be developed and agreed to by the parents and approved by the court. If the parents cannot agree to a Parenting Plan, or if the parents agreed to a plan that is not approved by the court, a Parenting Plan will be established by the court with or without the use of parenting plan recommendations.
Parenting Plan Recommendation – A nonbinding recommendation concerning one or more elements of a Parenting Plan made by a court-appointed mental health practitioner or other professional designated pursuant to either section 61.20 or 61.401, Florida Statutes, or Florida Family Law Rule of Procedure 12.363.
Participant – means any individual involved in the parenting coordination process, other than the parenting coordinator and the named parties, who takes part in an event in person or by telephone, videoconference, or other electronic means.
Party – means a person who signs a collaborative law participation agreement and whose consent is necessary to resolve a collaborative matter.
Party – means a person participating directly, or through a designated representative, in parenting coordination.
Party – a person involved in a court case, either as a petitioner or respondent.
Paternity Action – A lawsuit used to determine whether a designated individual is the father of a specific child or children.
Payor – means an employer or former employer or any other person or agency providing or administering income to the obligor.
Permanent Alimony – spousal support ordered to provide for the needs and necessities of life as they were established during the marriage for a party who lacks the financial ability to meet his or her needs and necessities after dissolution of marriage. Permanent alimony is paid at a specified, periodic rate until: modification by a court order; the death of either party; or the remarriage of the party receiving alimony, whichever occurs first. Permanent alimony requires consideration of the factors set forth in section 61.08(2), Florida Statutes, and must include certain written findings by the court.
Person – means an individual; a corporation; a business trust; an estate; a trust; a partnership; a limited liability company; an association; a joint venture; a public corporation; a government or governmental subdivision, agency, or instrumentality; or any other legal or commercial entity.
Person – includes a natural person, corporation, government or governmental subdivision or agency, business trust, estate, trust, partnership, or association, and any other legal entity.
Person – means an individual, corporation, business trust, estate, trust, partnership, limited liability company, association, joint venture, or government; governmental subdivision, agency, instrumentality, or public corporation; or any other legal or commercial entity.
Person acting as a parent – means a person, other than a parent, who: Has physical custody of the child or has had physical custody for a period of 6 consecutive months, including any temporary absence, within 1 year immediately before the commencement of a child custody proceeding; and
(b) Has been awarded a child-custody determination by a court or claims a right to a child-custody determination under the laws of this state.
Personal Service – when a summons and a copy of a petition (or other pleading) that has been filed with the court are delivered by a deputy sheriff or private process server to the other party. Personal service is required for all petitions and supplemental petitions.
Petition – a written request to the court for legal action, which begins a court case.
Petitioner – means a person who seeks enforcement of an order for return of a child under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction or enforcement of a child custody determination.
Physical custody – means the physical care and supervision of a child.
Placement – means the process of a parent or legal guardian surrendering a child for adoption and the prospective adoptive parents receiving and adopting the child and all actions by any adoption entity participating in placing the child.
Pleading – a formal, written statement of exactly what a party wants the court to do in a lawsuit or court action.
Preembryo – means the product of fertilization of an egg by a sperm until the appearance of the embryonic axis.
Premarital agreement – means an agreement between prospective spouses made in contemplation of marriage and to be effective upon marriage.
Primarily lives and works outside Florida – means that a person lives and works outside this state at least 6 months and 1 day per year, is a member of the military who designates a state other than Florida as his or her place of residence in accordance with the Service members Civil Relief Act, Pub. L. No. 108-189, or is a citizen of the United States living in a foreign country who designates a state other than Florida as his or her place of residence.
Proceeding – means a judicial, an administrative, an arbitral, or any other adjudicative process before a tribunal, including related prehearing and post-hearing motions, conferences, and discovery.
Pronuclear stage transfer or zygote intrafallopian transfer – means the transfer of an in vitro fertilized preembryo into the fallopian tube before cell division takes place.
Property – includes, but is not limited to, an interest, present or future, legal or equitable, vested or contingent, in real or personal property, tangible or intangible, including income and earnings, both active and passive.
Pro Se Coordinator – see Family Law Intake Staff.
Pro Seor Self-Represented Litigant – a person who appears in court without the assistance of a lawyer.
Prospective party – means a person who discusses with a prospective collaborative attorney the possibility of signing a collaborative law participation agreement.
Record – means information that is inscribed on a tangible medium or that is stored in an electronic or other medium and is retrievable in perceivable form.
Rehabilitative Alimony – spousal support ordered to be paid for a limited period of time to allow one of the parties an opportunity to complete a plan of education or training, according to a rehabilitative plan accepted by the court, so that he or she may better support himself or herself after dissolution of marriage.
Related to a collaborative matter – means involving the same parties, transaction or occurrence, nucleus of operative fact, dispute, claim, or issue as the collaborative matter.
Relative – means a person related by blood to the person being adopted within the third degree of consanguinity.
Relocation – means a change in the location of the principal residence of a parent or other person from his or her principal place of residence at the time of the last order establishing or modifying time-sharing, or at the time of filing the pending action to establish or modify time-sharing. The change of location must be at least 50 miles from that residence, and for at least 60 consecutive days not including a temporary absence from the principal residence for purposes of vacation, education, or the provision of health care for the child.
Relocation – a change in the location of the principal residence of a parent or other person in accordance with section 61.13001, Florida Statutes.
Respondent – means a person against whom a proceeding has been commenced for enforcement of an order for return of a child under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction or enforcement of a child custody determination.
Respondent – the person who is served with a petition requesting some legal action against him or her.
Scientific Paternity Testing – a medical test to determine who the father of a child is.
Service – the delivery of legal documents to a party. Service must be in accordance with Florida Rule of Judicial Administration 2.516.
Shared parental responsibility – means a court-ordered relationship in which both parents retain full parental rights and responsibilities with respect to their child and in which both parents confer with each other so that major decisions affecting the welfare of the child will be determined jointly.
Sign – means, with present intent to authenticate or adopt a record, to:
(a) Execute or adopt a tangible symbol; or
(b) Attach to or logically associate with the record an electronic symbol, sound, or process.
Sole parental responsibility – means a court-ordered relationship in which one parent makes decisions regarding the minor child.
Sole Parental Responsibility – a parenting arrangement under which the responsibility for the minor child(ren) is given to one parent by the court, with or without rights of time-sharing to the other parent.
Sperm – means the male reproductive cell.
State – means a state of the United States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the United States Virgin Islands, or any territory or insular possession subject to the jurisdiction of the United States.
State Case Registry – means the automated registry maintained by the Title IV-D agency, containing records of each Title IV-D case and of each support order established or modified in the state on or after October 1, 1998. Such records shall consist of data elements as required by the United States Secretary of Health and Human Services.
State Disbursement Unit – means the unit established and operated by the Title IV-D agency to provide one central address for collection and disbursement of child support payments made in cases enforced by the department pursuant to Title IV-D of the Social Security Act and in cases not being enforced by the department in which the support order was initially issued in this state on or after January 1, 1994, and in which the obligor’s child support obligation is being paid through income deduction order.
Suitability of the intended placement – means the fitness of the intended placement, with primary consideration being given to the best interests of the child.
Supplemental Petition – a petition that may be filed by either party after the judge has made a decision in a case and a final judgment or order has been entered. For example, a supplemental petition may be used to request that the court modify the previously entered final judgment or order.
Support – unless otherwise specified, means: Child support and, when the child support obligation is being enforced by the Department of Revenue, spousal support or alimony for the spouse or former spouse of the obligor with whom the child is living.
Support order – means a judgment, decree, or order, whether temporary or final, issued by a court of competent jurisdiction or administrative agency for the support and maintenance of a child which provides for monetary support, health care, arrearages, or past support. When the child support obligation is being enforced by the Department of Revenue, the term “support order” also means a judgment, decree, or order, whether temporary or final, issued by a court of competent jurisdiction for the support and maintenance of a child and the spouse or former spouse of the obligor with whom the child is living which provides for monetary support, health care, arrearages, or past support.
(b) Child support only in cases not being enforced by the Department of Revenue.
Supportive Relationship – a relationship, defined in section 61.14(1)(b)1, Florida Statutes, existing between a spouse who receives alimony and a person with whom that spouse resides.
Time-sharing schedule – means a timetable that must be included in the parenting plan that specifies the time, including overnights and holidays, that a minor child will spend with each parent. The time-sharing schedule shall be: Developed and agreed to by the parents of a minor child and approved by the court; or
(b) Established by the court if the parents cannot agree or if their agreed-upon schedule is not approved by the court.
Time-Sharing Schedule – a timetable that must be included in the Parenting Plan that specifies the time, including overnights and holidays, that a minor child or children will spend with each parent. The time-sharing schedule shall either be developed and agreed to by the parents of a minor child or children and is approved by the court, or established by the court if the parents cannot agree, or if their agreed-upon schedule is not approved by the court.
To place – means the process whereby a parent or legal guardian surrenders a child for adoption and the prospective adoptive parents receive and adopt the child, and includes all actions by any person or adoption entity participating in the process.
Trial – the final hearing in a contested divorce case.
Tribe – means an Indian tribe, or band, or Alaskan Native village that is recognized by federal law or formally acknowledged by a state.
Tribunal – means a court, an arbitrator, an administrative agency, or other body acting in an adjudicative capacity which, after presentation of evidence or legal argument, has jurisdiction to render a decision affecting a party’s interests in a matter.
Tubal embryo transfer – means the transfer of a dividing, in vitro fertilized pre-embryo into the fallopian tube.
Uncontested – any and all issues on which the parties are able to agree and which are part of a marital settlement agreement.
Unmarried biological father – means the child’s biological father who is not married to the child’s mother at the time of conception or on the date of the birth of the child and who, before the filing of a petition to terminate parental rights, has not been adjudicated by a court of competent jurisdiction to be the legal father of the child or has not filed an affidavit pursuant to s. 382.013(2)(c).
Warrant – means an order issued by a court authorizing law enforcement officers to take physical custody of a child.