Limited Appearance in Court: Everything You Need to Know

Welcome to our comprehensive guide on limited appearances in court. Whether you’re facing a legal dispute, a business owner, or a representative of a company, understanding what limited appearance entails is crucial. This article will delve into everything you need to know about limited appearances in court.

Limited appearance, also known as special appearance or pro hac vice appearance, refers to a lawyer appearing in court on behalf of a client for a specific purpose without entering a general appearance. This type of appearance typically occurs when a lawyer needs to address a particular issue without submitting to the court’s jurisdiction for the rest of the case.

This guide will explore the reasons for using a limited appearance, the procedures involved, and the potential benefits and drawbacks. We will also provide practical tips and essential considerations when choosing to make a limited appearance. With our expert insights, you’ll gain a better understanding of limited appearance in court and how it can protect your interests.

Stay tuned for valuable information and expert advice in the following sections.

What is a limited appearance in court?

Florida is among the limited number of states that permit attorneys to provide unbundled legal services, wherein they may undertake only specific aspects of a case. This approach is particularly beneficial for individuals who require legal assistance for certain aspects of their case, but do not require full representation.

Examples of unbundled legal services include drafting a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage or Paternity, responding to a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage or Paternity, drafting a Counter Petition, appearing with clients at Mediation, calculating Child Support, creating an Equitable Distribution Worksheet, drafting a Financial Affidavit, researching legal issues, ghostwriting letters, reviewing a Marital Settlement Agreement, and appearing with clients at an Uncontested Final Hearing.

Example of a Notice of Appearance

    IN THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE  _______________________________ JUDICIAL CIRCUIT,

                            IN AND FOR ___________________________________ COUNTY, FLORIDA





This top part is called the caption and should go on top of all your court documents.


After you label your notice, you or your attorney fill in all of the information listed below.

{Attorney’s name} __________________________________________ files this Notice of Limited Appearance on behalf of {name} _____________________________________, [choose one only] (     ) Petitioner       (    ) Respondent, for the following limited purpose(s).

  1. ___ The hearing set for {date} _____________________________, at {time} ___________on the issue(s) of {specify} ______________________________________________________     _.           

The clerk of the above-styled court is requested to enter this notice of record. 

  • ___ To represent [check one only] (   ) Petitioner (    ) Respondent on the following issues throughout the proceedings:
  1. ___ Parental responsibility and time-sharing.
  2. ___ Equitable distribution of marital assets and liabilities.
  3. ___ Alimony.
  4. ___ Child support.
  5. ___ Other {specify}:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

Copies of all future court papers should be served on the undersigned attorney at the address listed and on the [choose one only] (   ) Petitioner (   ) Respondent at {name, address, email address(es), telephone number, and fax number}

This last part, called the certification, where you certify to the court that you sent a copy of the notice to the other attorney or party.                                                                                  

I certify that a copy of this notice of limited appearance was: [check all used]   (    ) emailed

(    ) mailed (    ) faxed (    ) hand-delivered to the person(s) listed below on

{date} _______________________.

Other party or their attorney:



City, State, Zip:                                                             

Telephone Number:                                                    

Fax Number:                                                                 

E-mail Address(es):                                                     

Signature of Attorney

Printed Name:                                                                    


City, State, Zip:                                                                                                                                               

Telephone Number:                                                                                   

E-mail Address(es):                                                                                   

Florida Bar Number:                                                                    


Signature of Petitioner/Respondent

Printed Name:                                        


City, State, Zip:                                                                    

Telephone Number:                              

E-mail Address(es):                                

When is a limited appearance recommended?

Limited scope representation presents a viable solution to the growing population of individuals who are unable to afford legal representation and must therefore represent themselves. While full service representation is optimal, limited scope representation allows for the lawyer and client to restrict the extent of legal services provided to achieve the client’s objectives. A comprehensive written agreement is established between the lawyer and client, outlining the specific scope of legal assistance. This agreement delineates the responsibilities of both parties, including the tasks to be performed by the lawyer and those to be performed by the client. It is important to note that limited scope representation may not be suitable for all legal scenarios or individuals.

Advantages of a limited appearance

There are numerous advantages associated with this type of arrangement. The primary benefit is financial in nature, as limited scope representation is typically more cost-effective and provides greater financial flexibility. Additionally, this arrangement affords a greater degree of control over one’s case and allows for the hiring of a lawyer solely for the specific areas in which assistance is required, assuming the client is confident in their ability to handle the remainder of the case independently. Furthermore, clients have the option of engaging a lawyer for individual tasks prior to committing to a full attorney-client relationship, which can serve as a valuable “test drive” to assess the quality of the lawyer’s work. This arrangement may also facilitate obtaining a second opinion. Given that hiring a lawyer is a significant decision, some clients may feel more comfortable making a less substantial initial commitment to an attorney-client relationship.

Disadvantages of a limited appearance

  • The main one is the converse of one important “pro,” and really depends on how you view the matter overall. Here it is: you remain responsible for the overall case. This means limited scope representation is typically not well suited for a client who would rather not spend his or her time and effort on the matter, does not know precisely what tasks need to be done in the case, is not sure about an overall strategy, or does not wish to claim responsibility for the outcome.
  • There may not be an attorney of record, meaning you will have to keep track of court dates, deadlines, notices, and so forth. Mistakes in these areas can have severe consequences.
  • It may not be a good fit if you are not comfortable communicating with the other side.
  • Lawyers do a great deal of work “behind the scenes.” If you are not entirely sure what a lawyer does on a given case day to day and week to week, you may want to think twice before deciding you don’t need it.
  • If you are a corporation, you should be aware that a corporation is not allowed to represent itself in pro per. A corporation is required to have a lawyer in order to sue or defend a lawsuit.

How to request a limited appearance

In order to request a limited appearance, the attorney will have to complete a form. Luckily, Florida has a standard form that can be found here.

Need more help?

If you have questions about legal representation call attorney Joel Lipinski at 727-643-8964 or complete his contact form below: