How to Answer Divorce Interrogatories

By Jim Thomas

Interrogatories and depositions are part of the discovery process in a divorce lawsuit. Discovery allows both parties to ask the other side questions, in order to bring out all of the facts in a case. In a deposition, you're questioned directly by the opposing attorney while under oath. Your answers are recorded and can be used as evidence in court. Interrogatories are questions mailed or delivered to you or your attorney by the other party. You have a limited period of time to provide written answers to the questions

Interrogatory Questions

Divorce is governed by state law, and different states have different deadlines for answering interrogatories. Thirty days is typical, but a state such as Rhode Island gives you 40 days. Although states often limit the number of questions the other party can ask to about 30 queries, the questions can have a number of parts and often are written in legalese. Interrogatory questions range from queries about your assets, liabilities, and other financial information, what factual allegations you will make at trial, the identity of your potential witnesses and what exhibits and other evidence you plan to use to support your case.

Deadlines

Even though answering interrogatories can be an onerous chore, don't delay. If you miss the deadline, you lose the right to object to any of the questions, some of which might be improper. In addition, your spouse can file a motion to compel you to provide answers. If you don't respond by the deadline, the court can impose sanctions, such as fines, or even enter judgment for the opposing party.

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Accuracy and Honesty

You will be under oath when you write your answers and sign the interrogatories. So if you aren't truthful, you run the risk of perjury, or lying to the court. Interrogatories should be answered truthfully, accurately, precisely and as completely as possible. Limit your answers to the questions that are asked and don't volunteer any information that the other side doesn't request.

Objections

Some attorneys use interrogatories as a form of harassment. If you are asked questions that you feel are improper, you can file an objection with the court.Grounds for an objection include questions that are argumentative, vague, burdensome, oppressive, overly broad, violate attorney-client privilege or are not likely to yield admissible evidence. Examples of impermissible questions include demands for all of your medical records or your Social Security number. You can choose to object to a question and still respond to it. However, the court is unlikely to believe you are acting in good faith if you object to every question without responding to any of them.

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Tips on Giving a Deposition for a Divorce

References

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Responding to a Divorce by Certified Mail

If your spouse files a divorce petition to initiate divorce proceedings, you must respond to this petition by the deadline to avoid a default judgment. You may file your answer in person with the court clerk or by certified mail. You must also submit a copy of your answer to your spouse or his attorney by certified mail.

Divorce Discovery Process

In between filing for divorce and the final trial, divorcing couples may use discovery to get as much information as possible to help with their case. If issues are up for dispute at the time of trial, each spouse must present evidence to convince the judge to rule in their favor in terms of custody, alimony and related issues. The discovery process helps each spouse accumulate the evidence he or she needs.

Answering a Citation of Divorce

Being served with a divorce citation, or summons, often results in hurt and anger. However, you need to keep a cool head and decide if and how to answer the petition. This answer is a specific document filed with the court, in which you respond to the statements made in the petition. The amount of time you have to respond varies from state to state, but it is usually no more than 30 days.

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