Interrogatories, Request for Production, Admissions, Inspection
How to Handle Discovery in Divorce
The discovery process in divorce is a crucial tool for finding out the truth about assets and liabilities of both spouses in order to allow the court to make a just order regarding property division, alimony, and child support, among other issues. The legal discovery phase in a divorce lawsuit is governed by the state's civil rules of procedure, which apply whenever you file a lawsuit that is a civil suit, and any applicable local family law court rules. Typically, the responding party has 30 days from the serving of the request to file responses.
After a lawsuit is filed, there are various discovery tools available as a means for getting information admitted into court during the divorce proceedings. The following methods of discovery are available:
- 1. Written interrogatories. These are written questions seeking open-ended types of responses. An interrogatory is a fancy legal term for a question.
- 2. Request for admissions. These are written questions that are answered by being either admitted, denied, or unable to be answered due to a lack of information.
- 3. Request for production. This type of discovery seeks records to be provided, such as income tax returns, employment records, police reports, etc.
- 4. Deposition. An attorney or other court officer must send a subpoena to the party to be deposed. The deposition consists of a oral examination, where the oral responses are recorded, usually by a court reporting service, and transcribed in a transcript that may be introduced as evidence in a trial.
- 5. Request for inspection. When there's a need to see something in person, an inspection request may be made when it's not practical to have the requested items sent. For example, a request for inspection may be used to inspect real property or records that are so voluminous, requesting them through a request for production would be deemed unduly burdensome. The request for inspection must state a reasonable time, place, and manner of making the inspection.
A party may ask for any information that is not privileged and relevant to the subject matter of the lawsuit. There is no precise definition of "subject matter", and therefore it may be subject to a broad interpretation. However, there are situations in which a party can object to answering the request for information being made. The objection must be made in good faith, and not just to avoid answering or keeping the information hidden. The basis for these objections include:
- The information being sought is irrelevant, immaterial, or inadmissible. In order for an objection based on irrelevancy to succeed, it must be proven that the information sought is not reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible information. This objection can be countered if the opposing party claims it will help them in case evaluation, trial preparation, or facilitating the settlement of the case. If there is gridlock, only the court can make the ultimate determination as to whether the question must be answered. Either the party refusing to answer must seek a protective order from the court, preventing the opposing party from further pursuit of an answer to the objectionable question, or the party who put forth the question must seek an order to compel an answer.
- The request is vague, overbroad, or unduly burdensome. An objection made on these grounds asserts that the request is lacking in specificity as to time, place, and/or the subject matter being sought. It must also be shown that the request imposes an undue burden or seeks discovery that is not relevant to the subject matter, therefore, it is related to the relevancy objection. Courts will not allow a request that is it considers being basically a fishing expedition.
- The information being sought is privileged. There are various privileges that may apply, allowing the information to remain confidential, but the most commonly raised one is that of attorney wok product. Attorney work product privilege applies to information that reflects a lawyer's impressions, legal research or theories, conclusions, or opinions. The information being sought must also apply to material prepared in anticipation of litigation or preparation for trial, so it doesn't apply to work done before an attorney was brought into the case, such as the work of an investigator hired by an insurance company prior to a lawyer's involvement. Other types of privileged information include the doctor-patient privilege, priest-penitent privilege, and spousal privilege.
US Legal Forms offers a vast selection of affordable, professionally prepared discovery forms, such as sample interrogatories, request for production, and request for admissions, and deposition forms. Our forms may be previewed before downloading and completed samples are available.