Family law in Utah, especially divorce cases, often involves a lot of motion practice. I have previously posted on the important role that domestic relations commissioners play in Utah family law cases. Each family law case is assigned a Judge and a Commissioner. The Commissioner hears a very wide variety of motions, especially before the case is ready for trial. Only the Judge, however, can make an ultimate decision at trial on the case. See my prior posts from August 20th and 21st, 2015.
In family law cases in Utah, the old rule for Motion practice was that a motion and its supporting documents needed to be filed and served on the opposing party, along with a notice of hearing, at least 14 days prior to the hearing date. Then, the responding party needed to file and serve a response at least five business days prior to the hearing. The moving party could then file and serve a reply to the response at least three business days before the hearing.
A countermotion could be filed along with the responding party’s response.
There has been a seismic change in these rules, however. I hereby set forth the relevant portions of these changes below, reproduced from the newly written Rule 101 of the Utah Rules of Civil Procedure, regarding motion practice before court commissioners. This new rule went into effect on November 1, 2015.
(b) Time to file and serve. The moving party must file the motion and any supporting papers with the clerk of the court and obtain a hearing date and time. The moving party must serve the responding party with the motion and supporting papers, together with notice of the hearing at least 28 days before the hearing. If service is more than 90 days after the date of entry of the most recent appealable order, service may not be made through counsel.
(c) Response. Any other party may file a response, consisting of any responsive memorandum, affidavit(s) or declaration(s). The response must be filed and served on the moving party at least 14 days before the hearing.
(d) Reply. The moving party may file a reply, consisting of any reply memorandum, affidavit(s) or declaration(s). The reply must be filed and served on the responding party at least 7 days before the hearing. The contents of the reply must be limited to rebuttal of new matters raised in the response to the motion.
(e) Counter motion. Responding to a motion is not sufficient to grant relief to the responding party. A responding party may request affirmative relief by way of a counter motion. A counter motion need not be limited to the subject matter of the original motion. All of the provisions of this rule apply to counter motions except that a counter motion must be filed and served with the response. Any response to the counter motion must be filed and served no later than the reply to the motion. Any reply to the response to the counter motion must be filed and served at least 3 business days before the hearing. The reply must be served in a manner that will cause the reply to be actually received by the party responding to the counter motion (i.e. hand-delivery, fax or other electronic delivery as allowed by rule or agreed by the parties) at least 3 business days before the hearing. A separate notice of hearing on counter motions is not required.
Old habits die hard, which is why I characterized these changes as “seismic.” But, rules are rules and these are important ones to know and follow (at least until the next seismic shift occurs).
Because rule changes like this happen from time to time, it is often advisable to seek the advice of an experienced family law attorney in helping you to navigate the intricate and sometimes byzantine corridors and labyrinths of Utah family law.
This material should not be construed as legal advice for any particular fact situation, but is intended for general informational purposes only. For advice specific to any individual situation, an experienced attorney should be contacted.