De Novo Equitable Distribution Trials

The parties should follow the general Courtroom Procedures, and prior to presenting evidence at a De Novo Equitable Distribution Trial, counsel and/or the parties (where parties are unrepresented) must confer with one another to make a good faith effort to limit the scope of the trial, by entering into a written stipulation of facts identifying all relevant facts which are agreed upon and identifying with specificity those issues of fact which have not been agreed upon.

Presumably the parties have already appeared before a Master, and a Master’s report has been issued which has identified most, if not all, of the assets, as well as various facts relevant to the Court’s final determination (i.e.: length of marriage, marital health of the parties, tax consequences, etc.). Counsel and the parties may wish to use that report to help them focus on the stipulation that they will jointly present to the Court. If at the beginning of the trial it appears that a good faith effort to complete the written stipulations has not been made, counsel and/or the parties will be sent to another room, on the day of the hearing, to begin working on the project, until the project is completed. 

All documents, either party intends to offer into evidence, in their case in chief, must be identified and shown to the other party at the time of the pre-trial conference. The parties shall exchange and pre-mark each exhibit, and provide the Court, at the beginning of the trial, a list of all exhibits which have already been exchanged, together with a copy of all of those exhibits. In addition, thereto, the parties will provide the Court with a written list of assets with identifying information concerning each asset in a format similar to the format used by the Master in the Master’s Report. In addition to those two documents, the parties will provide the Court with a written Stipulation of Facts.