Florida Considering Attorney Parental Leave Which Could Impact Foreclosure Cases

The Florida Bar Board of Governors is considering an amendment to the Rules of Judicial Administration that would require Courts to grant a continuance in litigation when the request is based on parental leave.  A party opposing the request will be required to show “good cause” to deny the continuance.

The rationale for the amendment is to (i) prevent lawyers from being forced to turn away cases due to childbirth, (ii) prevent lawyers from being required to attend judicial proceedings against doctor’s orders, and (iii) prevent lawyers from missing the birth of their children. The rule will apply to both women and men and will also apply to adoption.

The proposed rule provides as follows:

RULE 2.570. PARENTAL LEAVE: A motion for continuance based on parental leave of the lead attorney in the case shall be granted if made within a reasonable time after learning the basis for the continuance unless substantial prejudice to the opposing party is shown. Three months shall be the presumptive length of a continuance granted for parental leave absent good cause for a longer time. If the court denies the requested continuance, the court shall state on the record the specific grounds for denial. If the motion for continuance is challenged by an opposing party proffering a basis for a claim of substantial prejudice, the attorney seeking the continuance shall have the burden of demonstrating the lack of substantial prejudice to the opposing party.

The “Committee Notes” explain that the profession is committed to parental leave and to the importance for attorneys to be able to balance work and family. The rule provides a strong presumption that a continuance for parental leave, generally not exceeding three months, will be granted when the request is made within reasonable time after the basis for the continuance is reasonably discernible.  Substantial prejudice to an opposing party could be the need for emergency or time sensitive relief that would be unreasonably delayed by a continuance, or the fact that many continuances have already been granted and the substantial rights of the parties may be affected.

Lender attorneys will be well served to understand the rule to assure that the rule is properly applied.