In Florida, Family Law does have its own Rules of Procedure. However, a large majority of them mirror the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure. Therefore, as a family law practitioner, or a pro se litigant, one must understand both civil and family law procedure to litigate their case properly. One area that does not really come up that often is one of Affirmative Defenses filed with the Answer to a Petition. If you simply ignore them, the affirmative defenses are deemed denied with no further action needed. However, If you want to “use” later the information of why they are “denied” you must plead your affirmative defenses to their affirmative defenses. This preserves your arguments later. The same as if you know you cannot gain relief for something you do not plead. You cannot use your defense to their affirmative defenses later if you do not respond timely and plead your affirmative defenses in response. It is important for you to discuss with your client the potential reply to the affirmative defenses. Make sure to investigate whether there are facts to avoid them. Also, be sure to reply to those affirmative defenses, when necessary, in a timely response. If you choose not to respond, you may be waiving arguments for your client that may have been fruitful in the trial.
If you need assistance replying to or asserting Affirmative Defenses in your case, we can help.