Family lawyers have their work cut out for them lately.

As if huge statutory changes weren’t enough, the Minnesota Supreme Court took this summer’s preternaturally beautiful weather as a sign that now was the time to update the Rules of Civil Procedure and Rules of General Practice as the e-Court’s initiative moves full steam ahead.

And they all took effect July 1st.

But let’s face it. Rule changes are boring.

So rather than confine myself indoors blogging during some of the nicest weather we ever get here in Minnesota, I’ll forgo another monster post and leave you, dear readers, with the top five rule changes every family lawyer should know.

For everything else, you’re on your own.

1. Throw Away Your Notary Stamp

No more notarizing. Minn. Stat. § 358.116 explicitly removed the requirement that documents be notarized, and the family court rules, Minn. R. Gen. Prac. 301 et seq., and the rules of civil procedure have removed notary requirements as well.

Documents we would have notarized, including discovery responses and affidavits, now only need to include the following before the client signature:

I declare under penalty of perjury that everything I have stated in this document is true and correct

EXCEPT stipulated Judgment and Decrees will still need to be notarized consistent with Minn. R. Gen. Prac. 308.04.

2. /S/ignatures

No. You don’t need to sign the document and then scan it as a pdf. For efiled documents, electronic signatures are sufficient.

As reminder, an electronic signature looks like this:

/s/ Michael P. Boulette

This is true for both attorneys’ doing the efiling (think signing motions) and for clients and other non-attorney’s signing affidavits, memos, and other documents. Minn. R. Gen. Prac. 14.04(b).

3. Nobody cares about your fax number. Give us your email.

It isn’t 1987 anymore; no one cares about your fax number.  At least not as much as your email address. Which is why email addresses must now appear on all pleadings. Always.  So go edit your signature block. See Minn. R. Civ. P. 11.01, Minn. R. Gen. Prac. 14.04(b)(1).

4.  Seriously, stop filing bank account numbers.

 This has been a part of our rules for a while, but as a reminder, complete or partial social security numbers, employment identification numbers, and financial account numbers may not be included in any publicly filed court document, including exhibits.  (With the exception that the last four numbers of a financial account may be included to identify a specific account provided those numbers are not the same as the last four of a social security number.)

If these numbers are submitted, it must be on a Confidential Information Form.

Likewise, all tax returns, paystubs, credit card statements, financial institution statements, and check registers must be filed under a Confidential Financial Source Document coversheet. (This does not include statements from permanently closed or “charged off” accounts.) Minn. R. Gen. Prac. 11.03(b).

Each time an attorney or party files a document, they are effectively certifying they have complied with these rules, and removed all this confidential information. If it’s later discovered that they have not, they can be sanctioned. Minn. R. Civ. P. 11.03.

In addition, Minn. R. Gen. Prac. 11.04 now allows the Court to strike from the record any of the above information or documents that are not filed confidentially.

If a confidential document is accidentally submitted, the Court will place them on temporary, non-public status for 21-days. It is then the responsibility of the filing attorney/party to re-file documents with the appropriate redactions, and a formal motion with the court seeking to have the new filing relate back to the original filing (if timeliness is a concern).

5. Page Numbers

Sure, Microsoft Word will put page numbers on your affidavit.  But now all pages in an efiled document should be consecutively paginated, even exhibits.

Practically speaking, this means continuing  pagination onto exhibits via bates stamping. See Minn. R. Gen. Prac. 16.

This is where you get out the firm credit card and spring for Adobe Pro.

Pro Tip: Consider including a table of contents where you’re submitting a large number of exhibits.

Of course, this only begins to scratch the surface of all the new amendments. The complete orders amending the Rules of Civil Procedure are here, and the new Rules of General Practice are here.

Happy reading. I’m going to the fair.

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