Bar News - October 17, 2008
Family Division Rules Updated
Bench/Bar Discussion Group Submits Revisions to Supreme Court
This fall the NH Supreme Court will be issuing an order adopting revisions to several Family Division rules. These revisions are the result of collaborative efforts over the past several months between members of the Family Law Section of the NH Bar and a group of Family Division judges and marital masters. As reported in an earlier edition of Bar News, this group has been working to review the Family Division domestic relations rules approved for use on a temporary basis in October 2007.
The temporary solution combined all pertinent rules in one place rather than make it necessary for practitioners and the public to consult four separate sets of rules, as had been the practice for ten years: the Family Division Pilot Project Rules, District Court Rules, Superior Court Rules, and Probate Court Rules.
According to Family Division Administrative Judge Edwin Kelly, most of the revisions correct inadvertent omissions that occurred when attempting to set the rules forth in plain language.
The bench/bar group that worked on these rules will take up additional topics as they continue their work together. One area under serious consideration is a proposal to include a rule requiring mandatory self-disclosure of financial affidavits and documents pertaining to income, insurance, assets, and the like. Several other states require parties to exchange this information early in marital/parenting cases. Many practitioners have advocated for such an approach as a means of reducing discovery costs to their clients, while at the same time ensuring the timely and accurate sharing of financial information necessary for the resolution of the case.
Judge Kelly reports, "I am pleased with our work to date. Judges, marital masters, and lawyers have generously contributed many hours to this initiative…. In addition to the attention to the domestic relations aspects of our rules, we would also like to focus on the other case-types impacting families as well. In that spirit, the family division is working with the Children’s Law Section to get input on the temporary family division rules governing our other important case types."
The current family division rules can be found on the court’s website at www.courts.state.nh.us. When the Supreme Court adopts the revisions later this fall, the current version of the rules will be updated with the amendments.