In 1995, Florida’s Supreme Court first adopted the Family Law Rules of Procedure. At that time, stand-alone rules for family law. Instead Board of Governors took the position “the Family Law Rules should reference the civil rules where necessary rather than totally incorporate them with significant changes” because new rules “would make it difficult for general practitioners to easily discern what differences existed between the civil rules and the family law rules and what changes were in fact substantive and what changes were only stylistic.”
In 1996 the Court modified the Committee’s proposals to “require that the civil rules apply to family law matters except as set forth in the family law rules.”
The Family Law Rules Committee has declared:
Over the years, the whole concept of “family law” has grown from simply being “divorce court” into a now distinct court—one that has to constantly find ways to handle a growing number of issues that arise in twenty-first century families, such as paternity proceedings, disputes over time-sharing and visitation, domestic violence, and enforcement proceedings.
The Commission of Family Courts, created in 1990, has recommended “that the Supreme Court require each judicial circuit to submit to the court for approval a local rule establishing a family division in its circuit or a means to coordinate family law matters that affect one family if the circuit or part of the circuit is of such limited size that it is unable to administratively justify such a division.” In Re: Report of the Commission on Family Courts, 588 So. 2d 586 (Fla. 1991).
As society went through radical changes, various areas of government developed to assist families, creating an evolution such that the practice of what had simply been “family law,” which seemed to fit under the umbrella of the Civil Rules of Procedure, developed into the practice of marital and family law. This practice is now represented in The Florida Bar by its own section and in the Judiciary by each Circuit’s Family Law Division.
On March 16, 2017, Florida’s Supreme Court adopted these new rules, with revisions, EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY.