Requests for Additional Documents and Interrogatories In Divorce and Paternity Cases
By Orlando Divorce Attorney Eduardo J. Mejias
Practicing Exclusively Family Law Since 2011
Additional Documents and Interrogatories
As you may already know, divorce litigation is both unpleasant and tedious. One particularly onerous aspect of divorce actions, is the breadth of documents that you may be asked to produce. I have discussed the financial affidavit and mandatory disclosure documents that accompany divorce and paternity litigation cases 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 of additional documents and/or Interrogatories. This is a brief explanation of each:
Request for Production of Documents
In divorce and paternity cases, 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 divorce and paternity 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 divorce 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 divorce 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, or 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”.
Request for Interrogatories
Interrogatories are written questions that must be answered within the same time frames as the Request For Production. Just as with the Request for Production, 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.
Litigants should respond to interrogatories in divorce and paternity cases as concisely as possible. The answers to your interrogatories 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 divorce 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 of documents, about Interrogatories or about anything else about family law, please call AAA Family Law at (407) 260-6001 and schedule an initial consultation. At the consultation (1) you will explain your situation and (2) 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.
Contested Divorce Up To Mediation* $2,400 - $3,600
Uncontested Divorce $1,200 - $1,800
Paternity Cases Up to Mediation* $2,100 - $3,000
*Most cases are settled at the mediation. If the case needs to go trial, the range of attorney retention fees is $2,000 to $4,000.
The actual attorney retainer fee within the range of each type of case depends on its degree of complexity.
For more information on our attorney fees and court costs, including the range of fees applicable to each type of family law case, please see Family Lawyer Retainer Fees.
To find more information on Family Law topics, please go to the Articles section.