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Massachusetts Domestic Relations Procedure Rule 11: Appearances and Pleadings

[Disclaimer]

(a) Signing.Every pleading of a party represented by an attorney shall be signed in his individual name by at least one attorney who is admitted to practice in this Commonwealth. The address of each attorney, telephone number, and e-mail address if any shall be stated. A party who is not represented by an attorney shall sign his pleadings and state his address, telephone number, and e-mail address if any. Except when otherwise specifically provided by rule or statute, pleadings need not be verified or accompanied by affidavit. The signature of an attorney to a pleading constitutes a certificate by him that he has read the pleading; that to the best of his knowledge, information, and belief there is a good ground to support it; and that it is not interposed for delay. If a pleading is not signed, or is signed with intent to defeat the purpose of this Rule, it may be stricken and the action may proceed as though the pleading had not been filed. For a wilful violation of this rule an attorney may be subjected to appropriate disciplinary action. Similar action may be taken if scandalous or indecent matter is inserted. Identical to Mass.R.Civ.P. 11(a)

(b) Appearances.

(1) The filing of any pleading, motion, or other paper shall constitute an appearance by the attorney who signs it, unless the paper states otherwise.

(2) An appearance in a case may be made by filing a notice of appearance, containing the name, address, and telephone number of the attorney or person filing the notice.

(3) No appearance shall, of itself, constitute a general appearance. Identical to Mass.R.Civ.P. 11(b)

(c) Withdrawals. An attorney may, without leave of court, withdraw from a case by filing written notice of withdrawal, together with proof of service on his client and all other parties, provided that (1) such notice is accompanied by the appearance of successor counsel; (2) no motions are then pending before the court; and (3) no trial date has been set. Under all other circumstances, leave of court, on motion and notice, must be obtained. Identical to Mass.R.Civ.P. 11(c)

(d) Change of Appearance. In the event an attorney who has heretofore appeared, ceases to act, or a substitute attorney or additional attorney appears, or a party heretofore represented by attorney appears without attorney, or an attorney appears representing a heretofore unrepresented party, or a heretofore stated address or telephone number is changed, the party or attorney concerned shall notify the court and every other party (or his attorney, if the party is represented) in writing, and the clerk shall enter such cessation, appearance, or change on the docket forthwith. Until such notification the court, parties, and attorneys may rely on action by, and notice to, any attorney previously appearing (or party heretofore unrepresented), and on notice, at an address previously entered. Identical to Mass.R.Civ.P. 11(d)

(e) Verification Generally. When a pleading is required to be verified, or when an affidavit is required or permitted to be filed, the pleading may be verified or the affidavit made by the party, or by a person having knowledge of the facts for and on behalf of such party. Identical to Mass.R.Civ.P. 11(e)

Amended March 5, 2010, effective May 1, 2010.

Reporter's Notes (2010). Rule 11(a) has been amended to require attorneys and unrepresented parties to include their e-mail addresses, if any, on pleadings. The requirement of e-mail addresses already exists in the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (Rule 11(a), as amended in 2007) and in the Rules of the Superior Court (Rule 9A(6)), effective March 2, 2009).

The Advisory Committee Notes to the 2007 amendment to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure state that "[p]roviding an e-mail address is useful, but does not of itself signify consent to filing or service by e-mail." Likewise, the 2010 amendment to Rule 11(a) "does not of itself signify consent to filing or service by e-mail" in civil actions in Massachusetts.