Requests For Production and Interrogatories In Family Law
By Orlando Divorce Attorney Eduardo J. Mejias
Practicing Exclusively Family Law Since 2005
More Disclosure Paperwork
As you may already know, family law litigation is both unpleasant and tedious. Unlike other firms whose websites sugarcoat the situation, AAA Family Law keeps it real. One particularly onerous aspect of a divorce, or a paternity action, is the breadth of documents that you may be asked to produce. I have discussed the financial affidavit and mandatory disclosure documents that accompany family law litigation in The Divorce Disclosure Paperwork.
However, that is just the minimum of what a divorce or paternity litigant can expect to produce. Your opposing counsel may also submit a Request for Production and/or Interrogatories. This is a brief explanation of each:
Request for Production (RFP)
In a family law case, one side may request the other to produce a list of documents within either 30 days (if the request is made after the filing of the original petition) or 45 days (if the request accompanies the original petition). What can your opposing spouse or partner ask for? Basically, any documents that are relevant to the issues in your case that are not protected by a legal privilege.
The Florida Rules of Civil Procedure define “relevant” as any evidence that “tends to prove or disprove a material fact.” Most family law clients underestimate the scope of legal relevancy. Others are even offended for being forced to produce documents that may be several years old. Still, even if the requested document only marginally proves what you earn or can earn, or in a divorce, the presence or value of a marital asset, it’s still relevant. I frequently remind my family law clients that something does not have to be the “smoking gun” to be relevant. It only has to be one brick in the wall.
My clients also ask me: “What if I don’t have this document?” My answer as your family law attorney is: depends on why you do not have it. There are actually two types of non-possession:
If the requested document exists, but you do not have “possession, custody, or control”, you are not obligated to produce it. Examples of this include your spouse keeping the tax returns with him or her, and your bank not being able to produce statements before a certain date.
But if the sought-after document never existed because it just doesn’t apply to you, you can simply respond with “none”.
Interrogatories are written questions that must be answered within the same time frames as the Request For Production. Just as with the RFP, the other side may inquire about anything that tends to prove or disprove a material fact. Responding to interrogatories requires more skill and finesse, though. I usually refine the original responses that my clients write (without altering the truth of their statement) before I file them.
With responses to interrogatories, family law litigants should respond in the most concise manner possible. This is not the forum to elaborate your “side of the story”. Of course, just like with requested documents, if the question is irrelevant or objectionable for another legal reason, the appropriate response is an objection followed by the reason for it. Trust your family law attorney about which interrogatories need to be answered, and what the appropriate answers are.
How We Can Help You
If you have any questions about a Request for Production or Interrogatories in your case, please call AAA Family Law at 407-260-6001 and schedule an initial consultation. At the consultation you will explain your situation and I will lay out a plan of legal action to resolve it. Then I will quote you a fixed retainer fee that you will know before signing any contract of making any payment, not an hourly rate whose total you cannot predict.
For more information on our attorney fees, including the range of fees applicable to each type of family law case, please see Attorney Fees.
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