Board supports family rules rewrite.
A complete rewrite of family law procedural rules aimed at making it easier for practitioners to use them has been endorsed by the Board of Governors.
The board reviewed the amendments presented by the Family Law Rules Committee at its December meeting and voted 45-0 to recommend that the Supreme Court--the next stop for the revised rules--approve them.
Elizabeth Blackburn, immediate past chair of the Family Law Rules Committee and one of the chairs of the subcommittee that spent four years on the rewrite, said one of the main goals was to end all references to the civil procedure rules in the family law rules.
"Many of those [current family] rules just refer back to the civil rules has historically been difficult for our practice area is civil rules would make a change and we're not always aware of it happening in advance or in enough time for us to react. We are bound by that change unless and until we enact a new rule," Blackburn said. "It has happened historically enough times that it has been problematic."
She also said family law has unique demands and requirements, and because of a large number of pro se parties in family cases the rules must be simplified as much as possible. The revised rules still refer to the Rules of Judicial Administration for issues that are common to all practice areas.
Board member Andy Sasso noted the board, at the request of the Supreme Court, is looking for ways to simplify procedural rules and asked if the rewrite accomplishes that goal.
"We believe this does accomplish the simplification, because right now we have three sets of rules. We have family law rules, we have to refer back to civil, and we have the Rules of Judicial Administration. You're flipping through three sets of rules just to figure out what you're supposed to do and that doesn't make a lot of sense to me," Blackburn replied. "We wanted to make it for practitioners that this is where you go."
The rewrite has been previously published in the Bar News for comment and will be published again when the amendments are filed with the court.