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RULES OF THE SUPERIOR COURT OF THE STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE APPLICABLE IN CRIMINAL CASES FILED IN SUPERIOR COURT

 

[Editor’s note: The rules that follow were, prior to October 1, 2013, titled Rules of the Superior Court of the State of New Hampshire. Effective October 1, 2013, these rules applied only in criminal cases filed in Superior Court and in domestic relations cases filed in the Cheshire County Superior Court. Effective December 16, 2013 these rules apply only in criminal cases filed in Superior Court. For civil cases filed or pending in Superior Court on or after October 1, 2013, see the Rules of the Superior Court of the State of New Hampshire Applicable in Civil Actions.]

RULES FOR REGULATING THE PRACTICE IN DOMESTIC RELATIONS.


    172. SCOPE. Domestic relations proceedings are governed by the following Rules of Superior Court. They apply to actions for divorce, annulment, legal separation, custody and visitation rights, child support and separate maintenance, paternity, legitimation, registration of foreign judgments and decrees, uniform interstate family support, and administrative support violations. The Rules of Superior Court regulating the practice at law, where applicable, shall also regulate the practice in domestic relations.


INITIAL PLEADINGS.


    173. PETITION: PARTIES AND SUBJECT MATTER. A domestic relations action shall be commenced by the filing of a petition which shall be captioned "In the matter of...and...", stating the names of the parties. The first name shall designate the petitioner and the second shall designate the respondent. Each petition shall be entitled "Petition for...", stating the subject matter of the action as referenced in Rule 172. All petitions shall state the county and state of residence of the petitioner and the respondent, so far as known.


    174. PETITION: ALLEGATIONS. Every petition in a domestic relations matter shall be dated and signed under oath by the party and shall set forth, in separate paragraphs and as concisely as possible, the specific facts relied upon to constitute grounds for the relief requested and to establish jurisdiction under applicable statute. There shall be set forth, in separate paragraphs, the particular relief sought. No documents shall be annexed to any such pleading except as may be necessary to support prayers for ex parte orders, or as required by court rule or order.


    175. JOINT PETITION. Where the parties agree upon all the specific facts contained in the petition, they may file a joint petition. It shall be signed by both parties under oath before a justice of the peace or a notary public.


    176. TEMPORARY RELIEF. A petition or cross-petition may contain a request for a temporary hearing, specifically identifying the issues for which the filing party seeks temporary orders and the relief requested.


    177. ADULTERY. All petitions and cross-petitions affecting the marriage relation which allege adultery, or answers thereto alleging adultery as an affirmative defense, must contain the name and address of the person with whom the party is accused of adultery, if known, and if not, a statement to that effect. Any fact relied upon under the statutes to excuse service upon such third person must be stated in the petition or cross-petition.


FILING AND SERVICE.


    178. RETURN DAY. Upon the filing of a petition, the court shall issue orders of notice, which the clerk shall attach to the petition. The orders of notice shall name a return day, which may be designated by the filing party to be any day within one to three months from the date of filing. All service shall be completed at least fourteen days before the return day. No service of a joint petition is required.


    179. SERVICE BY SHERIFF. Except where another form of service is mandated or permitted by statute, when the residence of the respondent is known, service of an attested copy of the petition and orders of notice shall be made by a sheriff or deputy within the state, and by an officer authorized to serve similar process outside the state. Proof of out of state service shall be made by a return of the officer under oath, accompanied by an official certificate of his/her official character and authority. Whenever service is made by leaving an attested copy of the petition and orders at the respondent's abode, the return shall state the street and number, or some other description of the abode. This rule shall not be construed to create extraterritorial jurisdiction where it does not otherwise exist.


    180. ALTERNATIVE SERVICE. When the residence of the respondent is unknown, the petition shall state the respondent's last known mailing address, and the name and mailing address of some near relative, if any is known to the petitioner, such facts to be verified by the petitioner's personal affidavit filed with the petition. Service may then be ordered for notice by publication, as follows: in a specified newspaper published at or nearest the respondent's last known place of residence in this state, or otherwise as the court may order, a statement naming the parties, court, and docket number, together with a description setting forth the nature of the petition and the relief sought. This notice shall be so published once a week for three successive weeks, the last publication to be at least fourteen days prior to the return day. Also, the petitioner shall send by registered or certified mail, return receipt requested, a copy of the petition and orders of notice to the respondent and to such relative, and shall file proof thereof. Publication may be waived for good cause shown upon motion requesting alternative service.


    181. WAIVER OF SERVICE. Service of any petition may be waived by the respondent, upon the execution of an appearance and waiver of service, which shall contain the respondent's signature acknowledged before a justice of the peace or notary public, or the signature of an attorney licensed to practice law in this state who is appearing for the respondent. The appearance and waiver of service shall be appended to the original petition when it is initially filed with the court, or to an attested copy of the petition when orders of notice have been issued. No further notice or service shall be required.


    182. ACCEPTANCE OF SERVICE. An attorney licensed to practice in this state, who is appearing for a party, may accept service of any petition and orders of notice from the sheriff.


    183. ENTRY OF RETURN. Returns of service and appearances shall be entered with the court by the return day named in the orders of notice, and no domestic relations case will be heard until proper return or waiver of service has been filed. Where a joint petition or a petition with waiver of service is filed, the return day shall be the date of filing.


RESPONSIVE PLEADINGS.


    184. APPEARANCE. Once duly notified, the respondent shall file or have an attorney file an appearance by the return day specified in the orders of notice. If no appearance is filed within the time prescribed, the facts alleged shall be taken as admitted.


    185. ANSWER AND CROSS-PETITION.  An answer to a petition or a cross-petition is required in cases where the responding party wishes to seek alimony or other affirmative relief, or to assert an affirmative defense; provided, however, that the court may, as justice may require, allow a responding party to seek alimony or other affirmative relief despite the failure to file a timely answer.  In all other cases, an answer may be filed. All answers shall be dated and signed under oath.  A cross-petition must follow the format set forth in Rules 173 and 174.  An answer to a petition, or a cross-petition, shall be filed within thirty days after the return day. Any answer to a cross-petition shall be filed within ten days after filing of the cross-petition.


    186. SERVICE OF RESPONSIVE PLEADINGS. Neither answer nor cross-petition need be served on the petitioner, but rather must contain a certification that the respondent has provided the other party with a copy of the pleading.


EMERGENCY ORDERS.


    187. EX PARTE RELIEF. Emergency orders may be granted without written or oral notice to the adverse party only if it clearly appears to the court, from specific facts shown by affidavit or by the verified petition, that immediate and irreparable injury, loss, or damage will result to the applicant, the children, or property before the adverse party or attorney can be heard in opposition. If the other party is represented or has filed an appearance, normally no relief will be granted without notice to the other party and an opportunity to be heard. Any person against whom such an order is made ex parte shall be entitled to a hearing within five days of a written request.



THIRD PARTY PRACTICE.


    188. INTERVENTION. Any person asserting an interest in the proceedings may seek to intervene as a party thereto upon petition to intervene briefly setting forth that person's relation to the subject matter of the case. Upon petition of a party, any such person may be joined as a party by order of the court notifying that person to appear in the case.


PRETRIAL CASEFLOW MANAGEMENT.


    189. TEMPORARY HEARING. Upon request of either party contained in a petition or cross-petition, or upon motion at any time during the pendency of an action, the clerk shall schedule a temporary hearing. Temporary hearings will be of thirty minutes' duration and conducted upon offers of proof, unless otherwise ordered by the court upon good cause shown. The parties may request a more lengthy hearing by motion setting forth the reasons for said request and the length of time required. Such motions shall be heard at the time of the originally scheduled temporary hearing, if not earlier ruled upon.


    190. STRUCTURING CONFERENCE. At the time of temporary hearing, within 60 days after the return day, or upon order of the court, a structuring order shall issue or a structuring conference shall be scheduled.

    Parties and counsel shall attend the structuring conference. The following matters may be addressed: disputed issues, schedules for discovery and other case preparation, appointment of a guardian ad litem or status of any ongoing investigation, additional conferences with the court, mediation, neutral case evaluation and other alternative dispute resolution, counselling, settlement, or trial. Upon court order or agreement of the parties, a referral to mediation or other alternative dispute resolution procedure shall be made at the structuring conference.

    The court shall issue a structuring conference order which may include deadlines for discovery or filing of motions and dates for additional structuring, status, pretrial, or settlement conferences and motion hearings. In lieu of attending a structuring conference, the parties may file an agreed upon statement, signed by parties and counsel, which includes all the above facts and representations, for approval by the court.


    191. DISCOVERY. Unless established in a structuring conference order, or otherwise upon request and approval by the court, discovery shall close six months following the return day.


    192. PRETRIAL CONFERENCE. At the close of discovery, a pretrial conference will be held. At the pretrial conference, the parties, counsel, and the guardian ad litem will be present and prepared to discuss settlement of all issues in dispute. Prior to the pretrial conference, pro se parties, counsel, and the guardian ad litem shall meet and confer in person with each other. At that time they must exchange copies of their proposed decrees, financial affidavits, and child support guideline worksheets. At the pretrial conference, the parties are required to file the above listed documents as well as pretrial statements which shall include the following information and which may be joint statements:

        A. Brief description of disputed issues.

        B. List of property (including pensions or property interests) in dispute, the values thereof, and whether or not appraisals will be submitted.

        C. Where applicable, a statement of special circumstances warranting adjustment to the child support guidelines, factors justifying an award of sole legal custody or an unequal property division, and factors to be considered in an alimony award.

        D. List of expert witnesses.

        E. List of other witnesses.

        F. Identification of pending motions.

        G. Unresolved discovery issues.

        H. Length of trial.

        I. Status of settlement negotiations or alternative dispute resolution.

        J. Special circumstances (such as out of state witnesses) which will affect trial scheduling.

        K. Whether a record is requested.

    In submitting this information to the court, counsel shall be prepared to discuss realistic expectations as to number of witnesses and length of testimony so that a realistic order on the duration of trial can be established. Except upon motion for good cause shown, witnesses not listed shall be prohibited from testifying at trial. A hearing on the merits, trial management, status, or settlement conference will be scheduled following the pretrial conference. A referral to neutral case evaluation or other alternative dispute resolution options may be made at the pretrial conference.


    193. SETTLEMENT AND STATUS CONFERENCE. Upon request of either party or at the court's discretion, at any time during the pendency of a case, a settlement conference may be scheduled. Counsel, the parties, and the guardian ad litem shall attend.

    At the court's discretion or upon request of either party, a status conference may be scheduled for case management purposes. Pending motions may also be heard at this time at the court's discretion or at the prior written request of either party indicating the motions to be heard and the estimated length of time required. Only counsel and pro se parties must attend the status conference unless pending motions are to be heard.


    194. TRIAL MANAGEMENT CONFERENCE. In cases scheduled for two or more trial days, the clerk shall schedule a trial management conference fourteen days prior to trial or as the court calendar permits. In cases requiring less than two days of trial, the clerk may, with leave of the court, schedule a trial management conference. Only counsel and pro se parties need attend the trial management conference. At this conference, the parties shall be prepared to address the time and manner in which all exhibits to be offered in the direct case of each party or exact copies of them shall be exchanged and marked. The anticipated subject matter, length, and order of testimony will be presented. Except upon motion for good cause shown, amendments to witness lists submitted at the Pretrial Conference shall not be permitted. To the extent possible, evidentiary disputes shall be resolved and legal issues briefed at this time. Issues will be limited and stipulated matters will be identified, the latter to be reduced to written agreement by the first day of trial.


    195. SANCTIONS. Failure to comply with any portion of Rules 190 through 194, or to attend a required conference, may constitute grounds for sanctions, including entry of nonsuit or decree pro confesso, imposition of fines, or such other orders as justice may require.

 

ATTENDANCE OF MINORS.         

195-A.  DEPOSITIONS AND HEARINGS. In any proceedings brought pursuant to RSA chapters 168-A, 458, 458-A, or 460, no minor child shall be deposed or brought to a deposition, brought to court to appear as a witness or to attend a hearing without prior order of the court based upon good cause shown unless in an emergency situation. 

 


REQUIRED DOCUMENTS.


    196. PERSONAL DATA SHEET. At the time of filing any initial pleading or pleading that brings an action forward, the filing party shall, and the responding party may, file a completed personal data sheet. Should a party become aware of any change in addresses, telephone numbers, or employment during the pendency of a case or of any outstanding support order, that party shall notify the court of such change. Access to information contained in the personal data sheet shall be restricted to court personnel, the Office of Child Support, the Guardian ad Litem, the parties, and counsel, unless a party has requested on the data sheet that it not be disclosed to the other party. Any person seeking access to restricted information may file an appropriate motion.


    197. FINANCIAL AFFIDAVIT. At every hearing involving financial matters or property, or as may be required by the court, each party shall file with the court and deliver to the other party prior to hearing a typewritten or legibly handwritten financial affidavit as prescribed by Administrative Order. Upon written request to the opposing party, accompanied by the requesting party's current financial affidavit and made at least ten days prior to the hearing date, the other party shall provide a current financial affidavit within five days of the hearing date. The clerk shall, upon written request of any party, place that party's affidavit in a sealed envelope, which shall not be opened except by the parties, the Office of Child Support, or with leave of court.


    198. UPDATED FINANCIAL AFFIDAVITS IN UNCONTESTED AND DEFAULTED MATTERS. No uncontested final hearing or final hearing where a party is in default will be scheduled in any matter requiring the filing of financial affidavits until both parties have filed current financial affidavits, duly completed. "Current" for this purpose shall mean that the financial affidavits are dated no earlier than thirty days before the date of the request for the hearing. The party seeking final orders shall make reasonable efforts to obtain the financial affidavit of the other party for filing. However, if one cannot be obtained, the moving party may file an affidavit explaining the reason why it has been impossible with due diligence to obtain the other party's financial affidavit.


    199. UNIFORM SUPPORT ORDER. At every hearing in which child support, medical support, or arrears are at issue, the party seeking the order shall file a proposed uniform support order as prescribed by Administrative Order.


    200. CHILD SUPPORT GUIDELINE WORKSHEET. At every hearing in which child support is involved, the party seeking the order shall file a child support guideline worksheet, as published by the Division of Child Support Services, duly completed by either the party or attorney. The other party shall file a child support guideline worksheet if the guideline amount is in dispute. The fact that the parties have agreed to an amount or may be requesting adjustments to the child support guidelines does not suspend this requirement. In cases where the other party has failed to disclose his/her income, a worksheet shall be completed using a reasonable estimate of that party's income.


    201. FORM FOR DECREES AND STIPULATIONS. Agreed upon or proposed decrees must be filed at all temporary or final divorce, legal separation or parenting hearings. Any temporary decree for divorce or legal separation must follow the format set forth in Superior Court Rule 202-C(I).  Any final decree for divorce or legal separation must follow the format set forth in Superior Court Rule 202-C(II).  Any temporary or final decree for parenting actions must follow the format set forth in Superior Court Rule 202-D.  For all final default hearings, the moving party shall provide a copy of the proposed order to the other party at least thirty days before the hearing date.


    202. SIGNING OF STIPULATIONS. All stipulations, agreements, and proposed decrees shall be typewritten and signed by the parties and, if represented by counsel, by attorneys for the parties.  The court may accept handwritten stipulations or agreements provided the parties file a typewritten substitute with the court within ten days. A typewritten substitute does not need to contain signatures.


   202-A. PARENTING PLANS. 

   
(I)  Parenting plans shall be filed in all divorce and legal separation actions where there are minor children, and in all parenting actions.  Parents shall work together to agree upon as many provisions of the parenting plan as possible.  Exceptions to the requirement that parents work together on parenting plans include cases where there is evidence of domestic violence, child abuse, or neglect, or as otherwise excused by the court.  

  
(II)  In any divorce, legal separation, or parenting action in which a temporary parenting order is requested, a temporary parenting plan must be filed at the temporary hearing.

   (III)  A final parenting plan must be filed at the final hearing in any final divorce or legal separation action where there are minor children, and in all final parenting actions.

   (IV)  Parenting plans must be filed in all actions to modify final parenting plans or prior final parenting-related orders issued in divorce, legal separation, or custody actions.

   (V)  Parties may use the parenting plan form provided by the court or may create their own parenting plan. However, parties who create their own parenting plans must adhere to the standard order of lettered paragraphs set forth at Superior Court Rule 202-B, Standard Order of Paragraphs for Parenting Plan.

   (VI)  All parenting plans required by this rule shall be filed as separate documents, signed by one or more parties.

   (VII)  For all actions requiring parenting plans, if a complete parenting plan is not agreed upon by the parties which includes every provision of the Standard Order of Paragraphs for Parenting Plan, a partially agreed-upon parenting plan, signed by the parties, and a proposed parenting plan for the remaining provisions must be filed by each party.


    202-B.
  STANDARD ORDER OF PARAGRAPHS FOR PARENTING PLAN.

  
All parenting plans shall be set forth in the following order of paragraphs.  "N/A" may be used to denote paragraphs that do not apply to a particular situation. 

   
(I)  Decision Making Responsibility

        (1)  Major Decisions

        (2)  Day-to-Day Decisions

        (3)  Other

   (II)  Residential Responsibility & Parenting Schedule

  
     (1)  Routine Schedule

  
     (2)  Holiday and Birthday Planning

        (3)  Three-day weekends

        (4)  Vacation Schedule

        (5) 
Supervised Parenting Time

        (6)  Other Parental Responsibilities

   (III)  Legal Residence of a Child for School Attendance

   (IV)  Transportation and Exchange of the Child(ren)

   (V)  Information Sharing and Access, Including Telephone and Electronic Access

        (1)  Parent-Child Telephone Contact

        (2)  Parent-Child Written Communication

   (VI)  Relocation of a Residence of a Child

   (VII)  Procedure for Review and Adjustment of Parenting Plan

   (VIII)  Method(s) for Resolving Disputes

   (IX)  Other Parenting Agreements Attached



    202-C.
STANDARD ORDER OF PARAGRAPHS FOR TEMPORARY AND FINAL DECREES ON DIVORCE AND LEGAL SEPARATION.

  
(I)  Temporary.  All temporary agreements and proposed decrees shall be set forth in the following order of paragraphs.  "N/A" may be used to denote paragraphs that do not apply to a particular situation. 

  
     (1)  Type of Case

        (2)  Parenting Plan and Uniform Support Order

  
     (3)  Tax Exemptions for Children

        (4)  Guardian ad Litem Fees

        (5)  Alimony

  
     (6)  Health Insurance For Spouse

        (7)  Life Insurance

  
     (8)  Motor Vehicles

        (9)  Furniture and Other Personal Property

        (10)  Retirement Plans and Other Tax-Deferred Assets

  
     (11)  Other Financial Assets

  
     (12)  Business Interests of the Parties

  
     (13)  Division of Debt

  
     (14)  Marital Home

  
     (15)  Other Real Property

  
     (16)  Enforceability after Death

        (17)  Restraints against the Property

        (18)  Restraining Order

  
     (19)  Other Requests

  
(II)  Final.  All final agreements and proposed decrees shall be set forth in the following order of paragraphs.  "N/A" may be used to denote paragraphs that do not apply to a particular situation.

        (1)  Type of Case

        (2)  Parenting Plan and Uniform Support Order

        (3)  Tax Exemptions for Children

        (4)  Guardian ad Litem Fees

        (5)  Alimony

        (6)  Health Insurance For Spouse

        (7)  Life Insurance

        (8)  Motor Vehicles

        (9)  Furniture and Other Personal Property

  
     (10)  Retirement Plans and Other Tax-Deferred Assets

        (11)  Other Financial Assets

  
     (12)  Business Interests of the Parties

  
     (13)  Division of Debt

        (14)  Marital Home

  
     (15)  Other Real Property

        (16)  Enforceability after Death

  
     (17)  Signing of Documents

  
     (18)  Restraining Order

        (19)  Name Change

        (20)  Other Requests



    202-D.
  STANDARD ORDER OF PARAGRAPHS FOR DECREE ON PARENTING PETITION.

   
All agreements and proposed decrees in parenting actions shall be set forth in the following order of paragraphs.  "N/A" may be used to denote paragraphs that do not apply to a particular situation.

        (1)  Parenting Plan and Uniform Support Order

        (2)  Tax Exemptions for Children

        (3)  Guardian ad Litem Fees

        (4)  Life Insurance

  
     (5)  Enforceability after Death

        (6)  Restraining Order

        (7)  Other Requests



    202-E.
  PERSONAL DATA SHEET.

  
At the time of filing any initial pleading or pleading that brings an action forward, the filing party shall, and the responding party may, file a completed personal data sheet. Should a party become aware of any change in addresses, telephone numbers, or employment during the pendency of a case or of any outstanding support order, that party shall notify the court of such change. Access to information contained in the personal data sheet shall be restricted to court personnel, the Office of Child Support, the court-appointed mediator, the guardian ad litem, the parties, and counsel unless a party has requested on the data sheet that it not be disclosed to the other party.


    203. VITAL STATISTICS REPORT. No divorce, legal separation, or annulment will be heard on its merits until there is on file with the court a typewritten vital statistics report, fully completed.  Access to information contained in the vital statistics report shall be restricted to court personnel, the parties, and counsel.


ENFORCEMENT.


    204. CONTEMPT. Attachments or arrests and incarceration for civil contempt may be ordered by the court upon a finding of the violation of any court order, after notice and an opportunity to be heard. Parties may be arrested upon court order and required to post bonds for appearance and compliance with court orders in any case where it shall be deemed necessary. Criminal contempt shall be governed by Superior Court Rule 95.


    205. BAIL. Sheriffs and deputies are authorized to take bail in civil contempt proceedings and shall forward forthwith such bail so taken to the clerk of court issuing the capias.


FINAL DECREES.


    206. NOTICE OF HEARING. All parties, whether they have appeared in the action or not, will be given advance notice of final hearings. In the case of a final default, written notice shall be sent at least fourteen days prior to hearing.


    207. TIMING OF HEARING. No case affecting the marital status will be heard on the merits sooner than thirty days after the return day, unless waived by the court.


    208. EFFECTIVE DATE: UNCONTESTED MATTERS. Decrees in uncontested cases where the parties have filed a permanent stipulation shall become final on the date signed by the judge unless otherwise specified by the court.


    209. EFFECTIVE DATE: CONTESTED AND DEFAULTED MATTERS. In contested cases or upon the default of either party, the decree will not become final until expiration of the appeal period, pursuant to Superior Court Rule 74.


    210. INACTIVE CASES. All domestic relations cases which have been pending for two years without any action being shown on the docket shall be dismissed.


    211. MODIFICATION OF DECREES. No modification of any final domestic relations decree or order will be heard, except upon a petition setting forth the grounds relied upon and the relief requested, which shall be served upon the opposing party. In any post-decree proceeding, the parties shall retain their original designation of petitioner or respondent as was established in the initial petition. Service of such a petition shall be accomplished in any manner permitted under Rules 178 through 183. Any agreement to modify a decree shall be signed by the parties and filed with the court for review and approval, if appropriate. A petition, or service of the agreement, shall not be required. Parties may stipulate to change a decree of legal separation to one of divorce.


GUARDIANS AD LITEM.


    212. [Repealed.]


    213. WRITTEN REPORTS. Reports filed by guardians ad litem in domestic relations cases involving custody, custodial rights, or visitation arrangements for any minor child shall be placed in an envelope marked "CONFIDENTIAL" by the clerk. Such reports shall be made available only to parties in the action and their attorneys. The clerk shall remove the envelope before making the file available to any other individuals requesting access.

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