The Florida Rules of Civil Procedure lay down the rules that should be followed by Florida state courts. The rules govern civil actions and apply to all special statutory proceedings in the circuit courts and county courts except those to which the Florida Probate Rules, the Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure, or the Small Claims Rules apply. In Florida, generally a civil action commences when a complaint or petition is filed. Once a complaint/petition is filed, the court clerk or judge will issue summons or other processes authorized by law to the defendant(s). A civil action can be classified into various stages that include: pleading stage, discovery stage, trial stage, and judgment stage.
Different types of pleadings in Florida courts include: a complaint or petition and an answer to it, counter claim, answer to counter claim, cross claim, answer to cross claim, third-party complaint, third-party answer, affirmative defense and answer to affirmative defense. A complaint should be filed by the real party in interest. If the real party in interest is a minor or incompetent person, the person’s representative should file the complaint. If a minor or incompetent person does not have a representative, s/he may file the action through a next friend or a guardian ad litem. The courts, if found necessary will appoint a guardian ad litem to represent the minor or incompetent person.
Parties may obtain discovery by:
- depositions upon oral examination or written questions;
- written interrogatories;
- requests for admission;
- request for production of documents or things;
- request for permission to enter into land or other property for inspection or other purpose; and/or
- physical and mental examinations.
After the commencement of the action but not later than ten days after the service of the last pleading directed to such issue, a party may demand for trial by jury. A judgment is passed after trial. Any party seeking costs, attorneys’ fees, or both should file a motion within 30 days of the judgment.