Family Law

Tips on Answering Requests for Admission

By Kristina Otterstrom, Attorney
How to avoid some discovery traps when answering requests for admission.

What Are Requests for Admission?

Like interrogatories, requests for admission are used to gather information from your spouse (or other parties) during the divorce discovery process. A request for admission is a written document, issued by one spouse to the other. Each individual request for admission basically states a fact, which the responding spouse is required to admit or deny.

For example, a request for admission might say “ Admit: That on January 1, 2001, you used marital funds to pay off the loan on the home located at xxx address.” Your response to this must either "admit" or "deny" the allegation. This is different than an interrogatory or document request, which ask you to provide information. The purpose of requests for admission is to resolve certain issues in your case, so they don’t have to be argued at trial.

Similar to answering other types of discovery, it’s imperative that you respond to admissions properly and thoroughly because your responses can impact the rest of your divorce. Below are some specific tips for answering admissions completely, while still protecting your own claims.

Responding Is Mandatory

You are required to respond to any discovery request, but responding to requests for admissions is especially important. If you fail to respond to a request for admission, it may be deemed admitted. For example, if you fail to respond to your spouse’s request for admission asking you to admit you had an affair, your spouse can claim you had an affair at trial even if you didn’t.

Verify Your Responses

You must sign your responses front of a notary. This is called a verified signature. Your failure to sign or include a verified signature on responses to requests to admission is almost as bad as not responding at all. Your spouse could file a motion (request) asking a judge to deem the requests admitted based on your missing signature.

Respond on Time

There are strict deadlines that apply to requests for admission. Generally, the rule is you must respond within 30 days, but your deadline may be shorter or longer depending on the discovery rules where you live, and/or any special arrangements you’ve made in your case. A late response is tantamount to no response. Your spouse can seek you have the requests for admission deemed admitted if you fail to respond on time. In some cases, a judge could deny your spouse’s request and let you amend the responses. Regardless, a tardy reply could cost you additional attorney’s fees and courtroom time. You can avoid all that extra trouble by submitting your responses on time.

Admit the Truth

Don’t be tempted to lie just to cover up embarrassing information. For example, if your spouse asks you to admit an uncomfortable fact like your hospitalization for depression or that you’ve been accused of child neglect, you should be truthful. A judge will eventually discover your lie. Even worse, your spouse could seek attorney’s fees down the road if a judge finds that you unreasonably denied a request for admission and required your spouse to prove the fact you denied. Denying a fact you should have admitted could also result in perjury charges and prevent you from testifying in your divorce.

Object When Appropriate

You may be bothered by some of your spouse’s requests, but you can only object to questions when you have a legal basis to do so. For example, if you can respond to some part of the request for admission, you must respond although you can object to the rest of the question. When you don’t have enough information to answer a request for admission, your response must show that you’re making a reasonable effort to find out more information so you can properly respond.

Questions for Your Attorney

  • Is there a limit on how many requests for admission I have to answer?
  • What objections can I make to a request for admission?
  • What happens if I admit something I shouldn’t? Can I amend my response within a certain amount of time?
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