Family Law

Tips on Answering Divorce Interrogatories

By Kristina Otterstrom, Attorney
How to help your case through the discovery process.

What Are Interrogatories?

During the discovery process, both spouses have the opportunity to ask questions, request documents, and conduct depositions to obtain evidence in support of their claims. Interrogatories are written questions submitted by one spouse to the other. You or your spouse will have to provide written answers to the other’s interrogatories. Below are some tips for preparing interrogatory responses, which can impact the rest of your divorce.

Respond Truthfully

You should answer each interrogatory honestly, even if it involves an uncomfortable topic. For example, you should respond truthfully to an interrogatory asking about your hospitalizations for depression. If you lie in your response to an interrogatory, your fib could come back to haunt you during a deposition or when testifying at trial.

Submit Your Responses on Time

There are deadlines for responding to interrogatories. Depending on where you live, you may have 30 days to respond. Do not delay in submitting your responses. A court can sanction you if you fail to respond to written discovery requests on time. However, if an emergency arises that prevents you from responding, as a good divorce client, you should notify your attorney or your spouse’s attorney immediately and ask for additional response time.

Answer Every Interrogatory

You're obligated to respond to each and every interrogatory. A missed response to an interrogatory can end up costing you. Specifically, in some circumstances, your spouse can file a motion to compel your response to an interrogatory and seek attorney’s fees because you failed to respond initially. To protect yourself, you should submit an answer to each interrogatory or provide a valid objection, which identifies the reasons you can't answer.

Save the Sarcasm

Although interrogatories come from your spouse (or your spouse’s attorney), you should resist the urge to provide sarcastic or offensive responses. Your written responses to interrogatories aren’t private communications between you and your spouse, and you should respond as if you were being questioned during a deposition or before a judge. In certain situations, your responses to interrogatories could end up as evidence during your trial. Even if you’re offended by your spouse’s questions, if they're reasonable, you should submit an appropriate response.

You Can Object When Appropriate

When an interrogatory is inappropriate, irrelevant, offensive, or unfairly burdensome, you don't need to answer it. An attorney can advise you on how to submit a proper objection. A carefully worded objection may help you get out of answering an inappropriate question. However, keep in mind that your spouse can ask the court to review your objection, and in some cases, you’ll be required to answer the interrogatory.

Questions for Your Attorney

  • Is there a limit on how many interrogatories I have to answer?
  • Can I object to an interrogatory if it requests my personal medical information?
  • What are the grounds for objecting to an interrogatory?
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