Normally, while your case is pending, your attorney and your spouse’s attorney will serve “interrogatories” on one another’s client. Interrogatories are written questions that must be answered within 30 days. The information sought regards property, debts, expenses, children and anything else relevant to your dissolution. If the interrogatories contain objectionable questions, please discuss them with your attorney before you attempt to answer them. Some questions, even though they may seem unpleasant, must be answered.
Interrogatories should be answered fully to give the opposing counsel (and later the court) a clear picture of the marital debts and assets, separate debts and assets, and issues regarding the children. Remember, mis-statements or omissions may cross you up at the time of trial and may ultimately hurt your case. In addition, any false or incorrect answers may be used at trial or in a deposition to discredit you and to demonstrate why you should pay a portion of the other party’s attorney fees.
Requests for Production
In conjunction with the interrogatories, requests for production of documents may be forwarded by your spouse’s attorney or by your own attorney. These requests require the other party to produce documents that will help in analyzing the case. This is normal and routine. You now should begin collecting financial documents that may be of help in documenting the financial history of the marriage and the parties.
Make notes for yourself and for your attorney as to where tax returns and financial records are located. If you have access to bank account records, tax settlements and financial statements, obtain copies of them for your attorney. We will provide you with a list of documents that you should collect and provide to your attorney.
Depositions often are taken in dissolution cases. A deposition consists of an attorney asking you, your spouse or another person questions, under oath, before a court reporter. Both attorneys will be present and both spouses may attend. The purpose of a deposition is to obtain testimony relevant to the issues of the case before going to trial. The knowledge of the facts and issues can then be used in preparing for trial, especially preparing for cross examination of witnesses.
During the deposition, the Court reporter records the questions and answers verbatim. Therefore, your answers must be verbal. If you are unsure of an answer to a particular question, say so. Do not speculate. If you are asked a “yes” or “no” question, your answer should be either “yes” or “no,” not “yes but…” Remember to help your attorney as much as possible in advance of any deposition by revealing to him or her all information that you have to ensure that your rights are fully protected. If your deposition is scheduled, your attorney will prepare you for it well in advance of the taking of your deposition.