Types of Divorce Motions in Florida

By Brenna Davis

A motion is a formal written request submitted to the court, seeking an order on a specific aspect of a case. These orders commonly compel the other party to do -- or not do -- something, but a party to a divorce can also file a motion requesting a deviation from standards such as child support guidelines. Divorces are adjudicated by the family law division of the Florida court system. Parties to a divorce should file motions in the same county in which the original divorce petition was initiated.

Temporary Motions

Motions for temporary orders are often filed shortly after a legal separation but prior to a divorce trial. These types of motions often ask the judge to schedule an emergency hearing. Rulings on these motions last until the final divorce decree is issued or until the judge issues an order revoking the motion. A party involved in a Florida divorce might file a motion for temporary spousal support, temporary custody, or a temporary order of support for minor children.

Protection and Injunction

Divorce proceedings are often highly contentious. One spouse may threaten the other or begin selling property to avoid giving it to the other spouse. There are several motions designed to prevent this. A common one is a motion for a protective order, which prevents one spouse from going within a certain distance of the other spouse. Parties may also file motions for injunctions. Injunctions stop the other party from doing something. Examples of injunctions include injunctions that prevent a spouse from leaving the state of Florida with the children, selling assets or moving bank accounts.

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A motion for child support is often filed with the initial divorce proceeding -- and child support in Florida, like in other states, is considered a fundamental right of children. Thus the issuance of child support is always considered in divorce cases. However, there are also other motions available regarding child support. The payer of child support may file a motion requesting a reduction in child support or requesting to abolish child support altogether. The party filing these motions must support them with financial documents and language demonstrating why child support should be reduced or abolished. A party may also file a motion for spousal support, which is also known as alimony.

Child Custody

When minor children are involved in a divorce, the parents must resolve issues of custody. The person who originally files for divorce must file a parenting plan along with the petition. Other common motions in child custody cases include a motion seeking permission to move with minor children and the motion to appoint a guardian ad litem. This motion requests that the judge appoint someone to represent the child's best interests. Motions for temporary visitation are also common when one parent is preventing the other parent from seeing the child. In some cases, parents file motions for psychological evaluations either of the other parent or of the children. The judge may then order that one or both parties, or their children, undergo psychiatric evaluation.

Discovery and Continuance

Discovery is the process by which one party obtains information and evidence about the other party, and is accomplished primarily through written interrogatories and oral depositions. If one party refuses to cooperate with discovery, the other may file a motion to compel that party to appear at a deposition, answer interrogatories or provide documents. Parties may also file motions to extend discovery time and motions to continue hearings. Continuances delay hearings.

Contempt and Default

When one party does not respond to the other party's filings with the court, the filing party may file a motion for default judgment. If the motion is granted, the party wins by default. However, judges tend to allow extra time to respond to pleadings in divorce cases, particularly when there are children involved, so a default judgment is relatively rare. When an order is issued in a divorce case, failure to comply with the order constitutes contempt. Either party may file a motion for contempt to sanction the other party. Sanctions for contempt include fines and jail time. In custody cases, repeated violations of custody orders can result in custody modifications.

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What Is a Preliminary Divorce Hearing?


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