Judges are bound by the concept of "Stare Decisis"
which is basically the idea that prior decisions must be honored and
considered in any similar matter. Legal research can be very complex,
but most law libraries will have a staff librarian that can show you
basically how to find what you are looking for. Court procedures are
defined and outlined by the Florida Supreme Court and are contained
in a book called the Florida Rules of Court. This book contains
rules and some examples of forms grouped together by the court to which
they apply; in Florida there is a section for Juvenile Court, Criminal
Court, Civil Court, and Family Law rules. If the other party files an
objection to your pleading on procedural grounds or the judge signs
an order denying your pleading because of a procedural problem, there
will sometimes be a rule cited in the document to which you can refer.
Put simply, representing yourself in a legal procedure is not always
as easy as it sounds. There are many books written by lawyers for non-lawyers
and you will be best prepared by reading everything you can find and
getting legal advice from an attorney BEFORE you go to your hearing.
The Family Law Pro Se Project is authorized to give
you basic forms and procedural information only. We cannot give legal
advice or advise you on courtroom tactics. If you are unsure about how
to proceed, we strongly encourage you to seek legal advice. If you have
any further procedural questions please call 727-582-7200 for St. Petersburg
section cases, or 727-464-3288 for Clearwater section cases. Thank you.