This is the written statement made and filed by the Respondent in answer to your Petition. The Answer may admit some of your statements and deny others, or it may admit or deny all of your statements. The Respondent should file the Answer with the Clerk and send a copy of it to you.
If an Answer, Motion, or some other response is not filed by the Respondent within 20 days after the Respondent is served with the Summons and Petition by the Sheriff or process server, or by the date listed in the Notice of Action, you may file a Request to Enter Default asking the Clerk of the Court to enter a Default against the Respondent in your case. A Default, if given, means that the basic statements in the Petition are deemed admitted by the Respondent and no defenses are made, except that the Judge will decide what is in the best interest of the child(ren) on the issues of child custody, visitation, and support regardless of what the Petition states. Even after a Default is entered, the Respondent must still be given notice of any hearings and the final hearing concerning those issues and may appear and present evidence or testimony on those issues.
A form called Request to Enter Default is available from the Clerk’s Office. To have the Default entered, you MUST file a notarized Non-Military Affidavit. The Non-Military Affidavit states that the Respondent is not an active member of the Armed Forces of the United States. Unless you file the Affidavit of Non-Military service, the Clerk will not enter a Default.
A form called a Non-Military Affidavit is available from the Clerk’s Office. If the Respondent is in the Armed Forces, a Default cannot be entered by the Clerk. In that case you would then file a Motion for Entry of Default by the Judge, get a hearing from the assigned Judge's Judicial Assistant, and send a Notice of Hearing to the Respondent. At the hearing, the Judge may enter the Default.
Forms called Motion for Entry of Default by Judge and Motion for Order Setting Final Hearing/Non-Jury Trial are available from the Family Clerk’s Office.
The Respondent may file with the Clerk and serve on you through the mail a Counterpetition for Dissolution of Marriage asking for a divorce, custody of the child(ren), or other things. You will then have to file and serve an Answer to the Counterpetition with the Clerk within 20 days of getting it and send a copy to the Respondent. If you fail to do this, the Respondent may ask for a default against you by the court.
In a contested dissolution of marriage case, the Florida Rules of Civil procedure give you certain rights to get information from the other party, for example, by taking testimony from the person under oath before a Court Reporter or by sending the person written questions, called interrogatories, which must be answered under oath. You should consult an attorney in a contested case to assist you in asking for discovery from the other party, witnesses, employers, etc., concerning the issues of the case. The Judge or the Clerk's Office cannot help you prepare your contested case.