Rule 12.070. Process
(a) Issuance of Summons.
(1) In General. On the commencement of the action, including proceedings to modify a final judgment, summons or other process authorized by law must be issued immediately by the clerk or judge under the clerk’s or the judge’s signature and the seal of the court and delivered for service.
(2) Contents of Summons. All summons in family law matters must be patterned after Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure Form 12.910(a) and must specifically contain the following language:
WARNING: Rule 12.285, Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure, requires certain automatic disclosure of documents and information. Failure to comply can result in sanctions, including dismissal or striking of pleadings.
(b) Service; By Whom Made. Service of process may be made by an officer authorized by law to serve process, but the court may appoint any competent person not interested in the action to serve the process. When so appointed, the person serving process must make proof of service by affidavit promptly and in any event within the time during which the person served must respond to the process. Failure to make proof of service will not affect the validity of the service. When any process is returned not executed or returned improperly executed for any respondent, the party causing its issuance must be entitled to such additional process against the unserved party as is required to effect service.
(c) Service; Numerous Respondents. If there is more than 1 respondent, the clerk or judge must issue as many writs of process against the several respondents as may be directed by the petitioner or the petitioner’s attorney.
(d) Service by Publication. Service of process by publication may be made as provided by statute.
(e) Constructive Service.
(1) For constructive service of process on the legal father in any case or proceeding to establish paternity which would result in termination of the legal father’s parental rights, the petitioner must file an affidavit of diligent search and inquiry that conforms with Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure Form 12.913(c). If the legal father cannot be located, he must be served with process by publication in the manner provided by chapter 49, Florida Statutes. The notice must be published in the county where the legal father was last known to have resided. The clerk of the circuit court must mail a copy of the notice to the legal father at his last known address.
(2) For constructive service of process in any case or proceeding involving parental responsibility, custody, or time-sharing with a minor child, the petitioner must file an affidavit of diligent search and inquiry that conforms with Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure Form 12.913(c). If the responding party cannot be located, the party must be served with process by publication in the manner provided by chapter 49, Florida Statutes. The clerk of the circuit court must mail a copy of the notice to the party’s last known address.
(3) For constructive service of process in all other cases, an affidavit of diligent search and inquiry in substantial conformity with Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure Form 12.913(b), must be filed.
(f) Domestic, Repeat, Dating, and Sexual Violence, and Stalking Proceedings. This rule does not govern service of process in proceedings for injunctions for protection against domestic, repeat, dating, and sexual violence, and stalking.
(g) Copies of Initial Pleading for Persons Served. At the time of personal service of process a copy of the initial pleading must be delivered to the party on whom service is made. The date and hour of service must be endorsed on the original process and all copies of it by the person making the service. The party seeking to effect personal service must furnish the person making service with the necessary copies. When the service is made by publication, copies of the initial pleadings must be furnished to the clerk and mailed by the clerk with the notice of action to all parties whose addresses are stated in the initial pleading or sworn statement.
(h) Service of Orders. If personal service of a court order is to be made, the original order must be filed with the clerk, who must certify or verify a copy of it without charge. The person making service must use the certified copy instead of the original order in the same manner as original process in making service.
(i) Fees; Service of Pleadings. The statutory compensation for making service shall not be increased by the simultaneous delivery or mailing of the copy of the initial pleading in conformity with this rule.
(j) Pleading Basis. When service of process is to be made under statutes authorizing service on nonresidents of Florida, it is sufficient to plead the basis for service in the language of the statute without pleading the facts supporting service.
(k) Service of Process by Mail. A respondent may accept service of process by mail.
(1) Acceptance of service of a petition by mail does not waive any objection to the venue or to the jurisdiction of the court over the person of the respondent.
(2) A petitioner may notify any respondent of the commencement of the action and request that the respondent waive service of a summons. The notice and request must:
(A) Be in writing and be addressed directly to the respondent, if an individual, or to an officer or managing or general agent of the respondent, or other agent authorized by appointment or law to receive service of process;
(B) Be dispatched by certified mail, return receipt requested;
(C) Be accompanied by a copy of the petition and must identify the court in which it has been filed;
(D) Inform the respondent of the consequences of compliance and of failure to comply with the request;
(E) State the date on which the request is sent;
(F) Allow the respondent 20 days from the date on which the request is received to return the waiver, or, if the address of the respondent is outside of the United States, 30 days from the date on which it is received to return the waiver; and
(G) Provide the respondent with an extra copy of the notice and request, including the waiver, as well as a prepaid means of compliance in writing.
(3) If a respondent fails to comply with a request for waiver within the time provided herein, the court may impose the costs subsequently incurred in effecting service on the respondent unless good cause for the failure is shown.
(4) A respondent who, before being served with process, timely returns a waiver so requested is not required to respond to the petition until 60 days after the date the respondent received the request for waiver of service. For purposes of computing any time prescribed or allowed by these rules, service of process will be deemed effected 20 days before the time required to respond to the petition.
(5) When the petitioner files a waiver of service with the court, the action must proceed, except as provided in subdivision (k)(4) above, as if a summons and petition had been served at the time of filing the waiver, and no further proof of service shall be required.
(l) Summons; Time Limit. If service of the initial process and initial pleading is not made upon a respondent within 120 days after filing of the initial pleading directed to that respondent, the court, on its own initiative after notice or on motion, must direct that service be effected within a specified time or must dismiss the action without prejudice or drop that respondent as a party; provided that if the petitioner shows good cause or excusable neglect for the failure, the court shall extend the time for service for an appropriate period. When a motion for leave to amend with the attached proposed amended petition is filed, the 120-day period for service of amended petitions on the new party or parties must begin upon the entry of an order granting leave to amend. A dismissal under this subdivision shall not be considered a voluntary dismissal or operate as an adjudication on the merits under rule 12.420(a)(1).