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Thursday, January 3, 2008

RULE 5:5. Pretrial Procedures and Discovery in family cases

RULE 5:5. Pretrial Procedures and Discovery in family cases

Family cases and divorce cases in New Jersey are governed by the Court Rules set up by the NJ Supreme Court. An attorney involved in divorce and family cases needs to be aware of the current rules.
The following is a portion of the NJ Court Rules which apply to all family cases:


5:5-1. Discovery

Except for summary actions and except as otherwise provided by law or rule, discovery in civil family actions shall be permitted as follows:

(a) Interrogatories as to all issues in all family actions may be served by any party as of course pursuant to R. 4:17.

(b) An interrogatory requesting financial information may be answered by reference to the case information statement required by R. 5:5-2.

(c) Depositions of any person, excluding family members under the age of 18, and including parties or experts, as of course may be taken pursuant to R. 4:11 et seq. and R. 4:10-2(d)(2) as to all matters except those relating to the elements that constitute grounds for divorce.

(d) All other discovery in family actions shall be permitted only by leave of court for good cause shown except for production of documents (R. 4:18-1); request for admissions (R. 4:22-1); and copies of documents referred to in pleadings (R. 4:18-2) which shall be permitted as of right.

(e) Discovery shall be completed within 90 days from the date of service of the original complaint in actions assigned to the expedited track and within 120 days from said date in actions assigned to the standard track. In actions assigned to the priority or complex track, time for completion of discovery shall be prescribed by case management order.

5:5-2. Case Information Statement

(a) Applicability. The case information statement required by this rule shall be filed and served in all contested family actions, except summary actions, in which there is any issue as to custody, support, alimony or equitable distribution. In all other family actions, a case information statement may be required by order on motion of the court or a party.

(b) Time and Filing. Except as otherwise provided in R. 5:7-2, a case information statement or certification that no such statement is required under subparagraph (a) shall be filed by each party with the clerk in the county of venue within 20 days after the filing of an Answer or Appearance. The case information statement shall be filed in the form set forth in Appendix V of these rules. The court on either its own or a party's motion may, on notice to all parties, dismiss a party's pleadings for failure to have filed a Case Information Statement. If dismissed, said pleadings shall be subject to reinstatement upon such conditions as the court may deem just.

(c) Amendments. Parties are under a continuing duty to inform the court of any changes in the information supplied on the case information statement. All amendments to the statement shall be filed with the court no later than 20 days before the final hearing. The court may prohibit a party from introducing into evidence any information not disclosed or it may enter such other order as it deems appropriate.

(d) Income Tax Returns. Following the entry of a final judgment, the court shall order the return to the parties of any income tax returns filed with a case information statement under this rule.

(e) Default; Notice for Equitable Distribution, Alimony, Child Support and Other Relief. In those cases where equitable distribution, alimony, child support and other relief are sought and a default has been entered, the plaintiff shall file and serve upon the defaulting party, in accordance with R. 1:5-2, A Notice of Application for Equitable Distribution, Alimony, Child Support and Other Relief, not less than 20 days prior to the hearing date. The notice shall include the proposed trial date, a statement of the value of each asset and the amount of each debt sought to be distributed, a proposal for distribution and a statement whether plaintiff is seeking alimony and/or child support and, if so, in what amount and a statement as to all other relief sought. Plaintiff shall annex to the notice a completed and filed Case Information Statement in the form set forth in Appendix V of these Rules. Where a written property settlement agreement has been executed, plaintiff shall not be obligated to file such a notice. When the summons and complaint have been served on the defendant by substituted service pursuant to R. 4:4-4, a copy of the Notice of Application for Equitable Distribution, Alimony, Child Support and Other Relief Sought shall be filed and served upon the defendant in the same manner as the summons and complaint or in any other manner permitted by the court, at least twenty (20) days prior to the date set for hearing. The notice shall state that such notice can be examined by the defendant during normal business hours at the Family Division Manager's office in the county in which the notice was filed. The notice shall provide the address of the county courthouse where the notice has been filed.

5:5-3. Financial Statement in Summary Support Actions

In any summary action in which support of a child is in issue, each party shall, prior to the commencement of any hearing, serve upon the other party and furnish the court with an affidavit or certification in the form set forth in Appendix XIV of these Rules. The court shall use the information provided on the affidavit or certification and any other relevant facts to set an adequate level of child support in accordance with R. 5:6A. In summary actions to determine the support of spouse, each party shall, prior to the commencement of any hearing, provide the opposing party and the court with an affidavit or certification of income, assets, needs, expenses, liabilities, and other relevant facts to assist the court in determining the issue of support. Such affidavit or certification shall be preserved for appellate review but shall not be filed.

Conclusion If involved in family court matters, immediately schedule an in-office appointment with an experienced attorney. Don't rely on a real estate attorney, or a family member who simply attended law school. When your future is on the line, hire a knowledgeable attorney.

The above information is a brief outline of Court Rules an attorney will review in applicable Family cases. If Kenneth Vercammen's office is unable to handle a case because it is outside our area, we often can refer individuals to experienced attorneys you can consult.

KENNETH VERCAMMEN & ASSOCIATES, PC ATTORNEY AT LAW 2053 Woodbridge Ave. Edison, NJ 08817 (Phone) 732-572-0500 (Fax) 732-572-0030

TRIAL AND LITIGATION EXPERIENCE In his private practice, he has devoted a substantial portion of his professional time to the preparation and trial of litigated matters. He appears in Courts throughout New Jersey several times each week on many personal injury matters, Criminal and Municipal/ traffic Court trials, Probate hearings, and contested administrative law hearings.

Mr. Vercammen served as the Prosecutor for the Township of Cranbury, Middlesex County and was involved in trials on a weekly basis. He also argued all pre-trial motions and post-trial applications on behalf of the State of New Jersey.

He has also served as a Special Acting Prosecutor in Woodbridge, Perth Amboy, Berkeley Heights, Carteret, East Brunswick, Jamesburg, South Brunswick, South River and South Plainfield for conflict cases. Since 1989, he has personally handled hundreds of criminal and motor vehicle matters as a Prosecutor and now as defense counsel and has had substantial success.

Previously, Mr. Vercammen was Public Defender for the Township of Edison and Borough of Metuchen and a Designated Counsel for the Middlesex County Public Defender's Office. He represented indigent individuals facing consequences of magnitude. He was in Court trying cases and making motions in difficult criminal and DWI matters. Every case he personally handled and prepared.

His resume sets forth the numerous bar associations and activities which demonstrate his commitment to the legal profession and providing quality representation to clients.

Since 1985, his primary concentration has been on litigation matters. Mr. Vercammen gained other legal experiences as the Confidential Law Clerk to the Court of Appeals of Maryland (Supreme Court) with the Delaware County, PA District Attorney Office handling Probable Cause Hearings, Middlesex County Probation Department as a Probation Officer, and an Executive Assistant to Scranton District Magistrate, Thomas Hart, in Scranton, PA.

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