If you are reading this post, you have probably received a letter or email from me with documents attached called Interrogatories and Request for Production of Documents. This is your first homework assignment in your family law case.
This happens in many family law cases. In fact, it is common in almost any litigation case of any type.
Please read this post and call me if you have any questions about anything in here. We will be in touch soon to discuss this “homework” assignment in more detail.
What Is Discovery?
Discovery is an opportunity for parties to a case to obtain information about each other, such as pay stubs to verify income in a child support case, or work schedules to verify a party’s availability to have visitation in a custody case.
There are different forms of discovery requests, but the two common forms you will typically see in your case are:
- Request for Interrogatories (questions to answer); and
- Request for Production of Documents (documents to produce)
Interrogatory just means “questions”, but we attorneys have to use fancy names for everything! These are formal written questions that we have to answer in a formal written manner. I will take care of drafting the formal answers. I need you to provide me with the factual answers so I can draft the formal responses.
What Do I Have To Do?
You are required to answer the Interrogatories and produce the requested documents, unless the information requested does not apply to you, or you do not have access to such documents.
The point of discovery it to make the parties disclose any evidence that they may want to present in Court. Keep this in mind when completing the questions and gathering the documents. If we didn’t disclose it in discovery, we probably won’t be able to present it in Court.
One of the points of discovery is to encourage cases to settle. The idea is to make everyone lay their cards on the table. If everyone can see what cards the other side has you are more likely to be able to resolve the case without a trial.
The opposing party will also have to respond the discovery request we send them. I have likely sent the opposing party a list of questions that looks very similar to what you must answer.
The Court can also sanction you if you fail to comply with the discovery requests without just cause. Sanctions can include making you pay the other party’s reasonable attorney fees!
When are my discovery answers and documents due?
Typically, your answers and documents are due within thirty (30) days after you are served with the discovery requests. Please note that your attorney will need to assemble and format the answers and documents that you provide, so please send your answers and documents to your attorney as soon as possible.
How do I send my discovery answers and documents to my attorney?
Your Answers to Interrogatories may be sent by e-mail, either typed as an e-mail or attached as a Word Document. Typed answers are preferred because they can be easily revised and formatted by your attorney.
Please give me long and detailed written answers to those questions. Write like you are talking to me – your lawyer. Give me all the gory details. I will take what you write and revise it for your formal answers that go to opposing counsel. Don’t worry about sounding formal or being guarded. Your written answers are for my office only.
Request for Production of Documents
Requested documents may be sent by e-mail, preferably in PDF format. Typically, requested documents are submitted electronically, so providing paper copies of documents is not necessary.
If you are not able to send the requested documents by e-mail, or you do not want to e-mail the documents, you may bring paper copies to our office to be scanned.
Review & Signature
When we have prepared your formal answers, you have to review them and sign them. That will be a formal meeting in my office. We can easily make any changes at that meeting if we have not answered something correctly.
If you are not in Southern Maryland we can do this via mail or email. But it is a LOT better to have you come into the office to discuss these formal answers before signing them.
What is my time limit?
One week please. Two weeks at the most.
Under the Maryland Rules of Civil Procedure, I need to answer these questions in 30 days. I can usually get an extension from opposing counsel, so that is sort of a “soft” deadline.
But I would like you to get me answers in one week if at all possible – in two weeks at most. Then we have time to prepare the formal answers and get you in to review and sign them before the deadline.
As always, please contact me if you have any questions or concerns. And we will be in touch soon to go over those questions and schedule your meeting to sign them.
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