Miami-Dade County, Florida has some of the best judges, attorneys, and overall court system in the family sector. Having been practicing in that field for almost eight years now, I’ve learned to appreciate how innovative our system is and how focused it is on our community. This leads me into talking about the Family Court Self-Help Project.
The Supreme Court of Florida now requires all unrepresented persons (people without attorneys) in divorce actions, name changes, paternity, child custody, and post-judgment modification cases in Miami-Dade County’s Family Court to use the Family Court Self-Help Program‘s form packets (or forms in substantial compliance). This means that those who are initiating action in Family Court must have their pleadings and papers reviewed by the program’s staff at the time they file their case.
Family Court Self-Help Program was initiated in 1994 through a coalition of the Eleventh Judicial Circuit and the Dade County Bar’s Legal Aid Society to increase access to the Court for the many pro se parties involved in Family Court. The program provides packets containing all forms necessary for divorce and other family court matters, for a fee. In accordance with limits set by the Supreme Court of Florida, litigants are assisted in the use of their packets, forms are reviewed for completeness and instructions on court procedures are provided. By reducing delays caused by insufficient filings, the Self Help Program also assists judges and other court personnel through the efficient management of family cases.
The cost for a Petition for Dissolution, Petition to Determine Paternity, Temporary Custody or Petition for Modification packet is $65. Although that price is reasonable for some, others may still find it difficult to pay that amount. That’s why the Court provides a waiver for self-represented individuals who are indigent to complete, and if they qualify they can get the packet fee at a reduced cost or completely waived.
Family Court Self Help Program Locations
For general information and scheduling on the Self Help Program contact: Lawson E. Thomas Courthouse Center
Address: 175 NW 1st Avenue Room 2441, Miami, Florida 33128
Hours of Operation: 8:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m., Monday – Friday except for legal holidays
South Dade Justice Center
Address: 10710 SW 211th Street, Room 1400, Cutler Bay, FL 33189
Hours of Operation: 8:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. and 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. Monday – Friday except for legal holidays.
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