I try to remember what it was like being a family law practioner by allowing discovery up until seven days before trial; briefs three days before trial; information from the internet; expansion of the seven day order time frame, etc.
However, the highly contentious nature of divorce proceedings mandates other rules to help me make the right decision. i.e. If there is going to be a trial, I do have some very specific rules in my scheduling order . . .
If there are more than ten items of disputed property, the parties shall prepare a joint list of disputed property, with any agreed upon values and encumbrances, for entry as court Exhibit #1. If there is more than ten items of unsecured debt to be divided, the parties shall prepare a joint list of unencumbered debt to be divided, with any agreed upon dollar amount owed, for entry as
#2. Court Exhibit
Non-compliance with requested discovery of exhibits or witnesses by this date shall bar introduction of said exhibits or witnesses at trial.
Three (3) days before trial the parties shall file with the judge’s office and opposing party a brief covering all issues to be decided; applicable law; statements to be introduced under MRE 803(24); Court Exhibits (if applicable) and proposed division of property and debt, with proposed findings of fact regarding their assets and incomes, including mathematical calculations. Exhibits shall be attached to the Judge’s copy and the opposing party’s brief but, to avoid identity theft, shall not be filed with the court.
This type of procedural requirements were recently upheld in Engerman v Engerman, unpublished opinion per curiam of the Court of Appeals, issued [7/7/2011] (Docket No. 295687). In Engerman the Court of Appeals remanded to the circuit court to make specific findings of fact regarding the value of the financial accounts encompassed in the property division. In do so the Court recommended the trial court order: “both parties to prepare detailed proposed findings of fact regarding their assets and incomes, including mathematical calculations.”
Finally, please remember that non-compliance can result in loss of evidence, costs being assessed, adjournment of the trial or other delay.