Information and instructions for pro se litigants filing dissolution of marriage (divorce) actions Note: This section is for use or distribution by Sumter County, Florida, Clerk of the Court and other court personnel to all persons who seek a dissolution of marriage but are not represented by an attorney. This packet is for use by persons seeking a non-simplified dissolution of marriage. You may qualify for a simplified dissolution of marriage.

Ask the Clerk's office which procedure is appropriate for you.

  • A PRO SE is a person representing his/her own interests without hiring a lawyer.
  • DISSOLUTION OF MARRIAGE is the term used by Florida's court system for a "divorce."
  • The PETITIONER is the person filing a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage and may be either the Husband or the Wife.
  • The RESPONDENT is the Petitioner's spouse, the person who is being "sued for divorce," and may be either the Husband or the Wife.
  • The CLERK is the Clerk of the Circuit Court for Sumter County and is the official who receives all of the paperwork to be placed in the court file for the Judge during the dissolution action.
  • An AFFIDAVIT is a statement of facts sworn under oath to be true and, if untrue, could subject the person to prosecution for criminal perjury charges if the statements were known to be false when made.

  1. CONTENTS: Some information must be included in every paper you send to the Court. All papers filed in your case MUST have:
    1. The "STYLE" of the case (for example, "IN RE: The Marriage of JANE DOE, PETITIONER, V. JOHN DOE, RESPONDENT"),
    2. The CASE NUMBER, once your case is filed with the Clerk's office.
    3. The NAME, MAILING ADDRESS, and PHONE NUMBER of the party filing the paper, and
    4. Except for the initial Petition, a "CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE" to show that a copy was sent or given to the other person involved in the case on a certain date. The Certificate is usually in the following form:
      "I HEREBY CERTIFY that a true and correct copy of the above paper has been furnished by ____U.S. Mail/____hand delivery/____telefax/____courier to (name of other person) at (address of other person), this _____ day of (month), _____(year).(signature of person submitting paper)."
    1. ORIGINALS: The originals of any papers for your case should be either taken in person or sent by U.S. Mail to the Office of the Clerk of the Court. Submitting papers to the Clerk is referred to as "FILING" the papers with the Clerk.
    2. COPIES:
      1. THE OTHER PERSON (RESPONDENT) must receive a copy of any paper you file with the Clerk. How the Respondent receives that copy depends on what the paper is. Providing a copy of the initial Petition to the Respondent is done by "SERVING" them with, or giving, them the papers through delivery by a deputy sheriff or process server or, in some cases, by publishing a notice in the newspaper. This will be explained in detail below in section (B) "NOTIFYING THE RESPONDENT".
      2. After the initial Petition has been served on the Respondent, copies of any other papers filed in your case may be "served" on the Respondent in less formal ways. At that point, you (or anyone else) may hand deliver the papers to the Respondent, or, you may send the papers through the U.S. Mail. If you use a fax machine to send the papers to the Respondent, you must also send the papers by one of the other ways. If the Respondent has an attorney you would use one of these methods to serve the papers on the attorney instead.
The Clerk's office may not give any legal advice. If you have any other questions, seek the advice of an attorney. By getting an attorney's advice you will protect yourself more effectively.