(a) Summons and Subpoenas.
(1) Summons. Upon the filing of a dependency petition, the clerk shall issue a summons. The summons shall require the person on whom it is served to appear for a hearing at a time and place specified not less than 72 hours after service of the summons. A copy of the petition shall be attached to the summons.
(2) Subpoenas. Subpoenas for testimony before the court, for production of tangible evidence, and for taking depositions shall be issued by the clerk of the court, the court on its own motion, or any attorney of record for a party. Subpoenas may be served within the state by any person over 18 years of age who is not a party to the proceeding. In dependency and termination of parental rights proceedings, subpoenas may also be served by authorized agents of the department or the guardian ad litem. Except as otherwise required by this rule, the procedure for issuance of a subpoena by an attorney of record in a proceeding shall be as provided in the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure.
(3) Service of Summons and Other Process to Persons Residing in the State. The summons and other process shall be served upon all parties other than the petitioner as required by law. The summons and other process may be served by authorized agents of the department or the guardian ad litem.
(A) Service by publication shall not be required for dependency hearings and shall be required only for service of summons in a termination of parental rights proceeding for parents whose identities are known but whose whereabouts cannot be determined despite a diligent search. Service by publication in these circumstances shall be considered valid service.
(B) The failure to serve a party or give notice to a participant in a dependency hearing shall not affect the validity of an order of adjudication or disposition if the court finds that the petitioner has completed a diligent search that failed to ascertain the identity or location of that party.
(C) Personal appearance, either physically or by audio-video communication technology, of any person in a hearing before the court eliminates the requirement for serving process upon that person.
(4) Service of Summons and Other Process to Persons Residing Outside of the State in Dependency Proceedings.
(A) Service of the summons and other process on parents, parties, participants, petitioners, or persons outside this state shall be in a manner reasonably calculated to give actual notice, and may be made:
(i) by personal delivery outside this state in a manner prescribed for service of process within this state;
(ii) in a manner prescribed by the law of the place in which service is made for service of process in that place in an action in any of its courts of general jurisdiction;
(iii) by any form of mail addressed to the person to be served and requesting a receipt; or
(iv) as directed by the court. Service by publication shall not be required for dependency hearings.
(B) Notice under this rule shall be served, mailed, delivered, or last published at least 20 days before any hearing in this state.
(C) Proof of service outside this state may be made by affidavit of the person who made the service or in the manner prescribed by the law of this state, the order pursuant to which the service is made, or the law of the place in which the service is made. If service is made by mail, proof may be in a receipt signed by the addressee or other evidence of delivery to the addressee.
(D) Personal appearance, either physically or by audio-video communication technology, of any person in a hearing before the court eliminates the requirement for serving process upon that person.
(5) Service of Persons on Active Military Duty in Dependency Proceedings. In the case of a person an active military duty, service completed pursuant to subdivision (a)(3) or (a)(4) of this rule must be in compliance with state and federal laws.
(b) Diligent Search.
(1) Location Unknown. If the location of a parent is unknown and that parent has not filed a permanent address designation with the court, the petitioner shall complete a diligent search as required by law.
(2) Affidavit of Diligent Search. If the location of a parent is unknown after the diligent search has been completed, the petitioner shall file with the court an affidavit of diligent search executed by the person who made the search and inquiry.
(3) Court Review of Affidavit. The court must review the affidavit of diligent search and enter an order determining whether the petitioner has completed a diligent search as required by law. In termination of parental rights proceedings, the clerk must not certify a notice of action until the court enters an order finding that the petitioner has conducted a diligent search as required by law. In a dependency proceeding, if the court finds that the petitioner has conducted a diligent search, the court may proceed to grant the requested relief of the petitioner as to the parent whose location is unknown without further notice.
(4) Continuing Duty. After filing an affidavit of diligent search in a dependency or termination of parental rights proceeding, the petitioner, and, if the court requires, the department, are under a continuing duty to search for and attempt to serve the parent whose location is unknown until excused from further diligent search by the court. The department shall report on the results of the continuing search at each court hearing until the person is located or until further search is excused by the court.
(c) Identity of Parent Unknown.
(1) If the identity of a parent is unknown, and a petition for dependency, shelter care, or termination of parental rights is filed, the court shall conduct the inquiry required by law. The information required by law may be submitted to the court in the form of a sworn affidavit executed by a person having personal knowledge of the facts.
(2) If the court inquiry fails to identify any person as a parent or prospective parent, the court shall so find and may proceed to grant the requested relief of the petitioner as to the unknown parent without further notice.
(d) Identity and Location Determined. If an inquiry or diligent search identifies and locates any person who may be a parent or prospective parent, the court must require that notice of the hearing be provided to that person.
(e) Effect of Failure to Serve. Failure to serve parents whose identity or residence is unknown shall not affect the validity of an order of adjudication or disposition if the court finds the petitioner has completed a diligent search.
(f) Notice and Service of Pleadings and Papers.
(1) Notice of Arraignment Hearings in Dependency Cases. Notice of the arraignment hearing must be served on all parties with the summons and petition. The document containing the notice to appear in a dependency arraignment hearing must contain, in type at least as large as the balance of the document, the following or substantially similar language: “FAILURE TO PERSONALLY APPEAR AT THE ARRAIGNMENT HEARING CONSTITUTES CONSENT TO THE ADJUDICATION OF THIS CHILD (OR THESE CHILDREN) AS A DEPENDENT CHILD (OR CHILDREN) AND MAY ULTIMATELY RESULT IN LOSS OF CUSTODY OF THIS CHILD (OR THESE CHILDREN).” Any preadoptive parents of the children and all participants, including the child’s foster parents and relative caregivers, must be notified of the arraignment hearing.
(2) Notice of Assessment of Child Support. Other than as part of a disposition order, if the court, on its own motion or at the request of any party, seeks to impose or enforce a child support obligation on any parent, all parties and participants are entitled to reasonable notice that child support will be addressed at a future hearing.
(3) Notice of Hearings to Participants and Parties Whose Identity or Address are Known. Any preadoptive parents, all participants, including foster parents and relative caregivers, and parties whose identity and address are known must be notified of all proceedings and hearings, unless otherwise provided by law. Notice involving emergency hearings must be that which is most likely to result in actual notice. It is the duty of the petitioner or moving party to notify any preadoptive parents, all participants, including foster parents and relative caregivers, and parties known to the petitioner or moving party of all hearings, except hearings which must be noticed by the court. Additional notice is not required if notice was provided to the parties in writing by the court or is contained in prior court orders and those orders were provided to the participant or party. All foster or preadoptive parents must be provided at least 72 hours notice, verbally or in writing, of all proceedings or hearings relating to children in their care or children they are seeking to adopt to ensure the ability to provide input to the court. This subdivision shall not be construed to require that any foster parent, preadoptive parent, or relative caregiver be made a party to the proceedings solely on the basis of notice and a right to be heard.
(4) Service of Pleadings, Orders, and Papers. Unless the court orders otherwise, every pleading, order, and paper filed in the action after the initial petition, shall be served on each party or the party’s attorney. Nothing herein shall be construed to require that a plea be in writing or that an application for witness subpoena be served.
(5) Method of Service. When service is required or permitted to be made upon a party or participant represented by an attorney, service shall be made upon the attorney unless service upon the party or participant is ordered by the court.
(A) Excusing of Service. Service is excused if the identity or residence of the party or participant is unknown and a diligent search for that person has been completed in accordance with law.
(B) Service by Electronic Mail (“e-mail”). Service of a document by e-mail is made by an e-mail sent to all addresses designated by the attorney or party with either (a) a copy of the document in PDF format attached or (b) a link to the document on a website maintained by a clerk.
(i) Service on Attorneys. Upon appearing in a proceeding, an attorney must designate a primary e-mail address and may designate no more than two secondary e-mail addresses to which service must be directed in that proceeding. Every document filed by an attorney thereafter must include the primary e-mail address of that attorney and any secondary e-mail addresses. If an attorney does not designate any e-mail address for service, documents may be served on that attorney at the e-mail address on record with The Florida Bar.
(ii) Exception to E-mail Service on Attorneys. Service by an attorney on another attorney must be made by e-mail unless the parties stipulate otherwise. Upon motion by an attorney demonstrating that the attorney has no e-mail account and lacks access to the Internet at the attorney’s office, the court may excuse the attorney from the requirements of e-mail service. Service on and by an attorney excused by the court from e-mail service must be by the means provided in subdivision (c)(6) of this rule.
(iii) Service on and by Parties Not Represented by an Attorney. Unless excused pursuant to subdivision (f)(5)(B)(iv), any party not represented by an attorney may serve a designation of a primary e-mail address and also may designate no more than two secondary e-mail addresses to which service must be directed in that proceeding.
(iv) Exceptions to E-mail Service on and by Parties Not Represented by an Attorney.
a. A party who is in custody and who is not represented by an attorney is excused from the requirements of e-mail service.
b. The clerk of court must excuse a party who is not represented by an attorney from the requirements of e-mail service if the party declares on Florida Rule of General Practice and Judicial Administration Form 2.601, under penalties of perjury, that the party does not have an e-mail account or does not have regular access to the Internet.
If a party not represented by an attorney is excused from e- mail service, service on and by that party must be by the means provided in subdivision (f)(6).
(v) Format of E-mail for Service. All documents served by e-mail must be attached to an e-mail message containing a subject line beginning with the words “SERVICE OF COURT DOCUMENT” in all capital letters, followed by the case number of the proceeding in which the documents are being served. The body of the e-mail must identify the court in which the proceeding is pending, the case number, the name of the initial party on each side, the title of each document served with that e- mail, and the sender’s name and telephone number. Any e-mail which, together with its attachments, exceeds five megabytes (5MB) in size, must be divided and sent as separate e-mails, numbered in the subject line, no one of which may exceed 5MB in size.
(vi) Time of Service. Service by e-mail is complete on the date sent and must be treated as service by mail for the computation of time. If the sender learns that the e-mail did not reach the address of the person to be served, the sender must immediately send another copy by e-mail or by a means authorized by subdivision (f)(6).
(6) Service by Other Means. In addition to, and not in lieu of, service by e-mail, service may also be made upon attorneys and parties not represented by an attorney by any of the means specified in this subdivision. If a document is served by more than one method of service, the computation of time for any response to the served document must be based on the method of service that provides the shortest response time. Service on and by all parties and participants who are not represented by an attorney and who are excused from e-mail service, and on and by all attorneys excused from e-mail service, must be made by delivering a copy of the document or by mailing it to the party or participant at their permanent mailing address if one has been provided to the court or to the party, participant, or attorney at their last known address or, if no address is known, by leaving it with the clerk of the court. Service by mail is complete upon mailing. Delivery of a copy within this rule is complete upon:
(A) handing it to the attorney or to the party or participant,
(B) leaving it at the attorney’s, party’s or participant’s office with a clerk or other person in charge thereof,
(C) if there is no one in charge, leaving it in a conspicuous place therein,
(D) if the office is closed or the person to be served has no office, leaving it at the person’s usual place of abode with some person of his or her family above 15 years of age and informing such person of the contents, or
(E) transmitting it by facsimile to the attorney’s, party’s, or participant’s office with a cover sheet containing the sender’s name, firm, address, telephone number, and facsimile number, and the number of pages transmitted. When service is made by facsimile, a copy must also be served by any other method permitted by this rule. Facsimile service occurs when transmission is complete.
(F) Service by delivery is deemed complete on the date of delivery.
(7) Filing. All documents must be filed with the court either before service or immediately thereafter. If the original of any bond or other document is required to be an original and is not placed in the court file or deposited with the clerk, a certified copy must be so placed by the clerk.
(8) Filing Defined. The filing of documents with the court as required by these rules must be made by filing them with the clerk, except that the judge may permit documents to be filed with the judge, in which event the judge must note the filing date before him or her on the documents and transmit them to the clerk.
The date of filing is that shown on the face of the document by the judge’s notation or the clerk’s time stamp, whichever is earlier.
(9) Certificate of Service. When any attorney certifies in substance:
“I certify that a copy hereof has been furnished to (here insert name or names and addresses used for service) by (e-mail) (delivery) (mail) (fax) on …..(date)……
the certificate must be taken as prima facie proof of such service in compliance with this rule.
(10) Service by Clerk. When the clerk is required to serve notices and other documents, the clerk may do so by e-mail or by another method permitted under subdivision (c). Service by a clerk is not required to be by e-mail.
(11) Service of Orders.
(A) A copy of all orders or judgments must be transmitted by the court or under its direction to all parties at the time of entry of the order or judgment. No service need be made on parties against whom a default has been entered except orders setting an action for trial and final judgments that must be prepared and served as provided in subdivision (c)(11)(B). The court may require that orders or judgments be prepared by a party, may require the party to furnish the court with stamped addressed envelopes for service of the order or judgment, and may require that proposed orders and judgments be furnished to all parties before entry by the court of the order or judgment. The court may serve any order or judgment by e-mail to all attorneys and parties not represented by an attorney who have not been excused from e-mail service.
(B) When a final judgment is entered against a party in default, the court must mail a conformed copy of it to the party. The party in whose favor the judgment is entered must furnish the court with a copy of the judgment, unless it is prepared by the court and with the address of the party to be served. If the address is unknown, the copy need not be furnished.
(C) This subdivision is directory and a failure to comply with it does not affect the order or judgment or its finality or any proceedings arising in the action.