Pattern and Non-Pattern Divorce Interrogatories

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Divorce court proceedings can be complex, confusing, and frustrating.  One of the parts of a divorce proceeding that can cause a great deal of frustration is the production of divorce interrogatories, or series of questions that involve various issues that the opposing party may wish to use in the discovery process of the divorce.  There are two different types of interrogatories, pattern interrogatories and non pattern interrogatories, and either type may be issued to you by the other person in the divorce proceeding.  The goal of either type of interrogatory is to uncover information that may be useful later on in the court proceedings.  So, what are the differences between pattern and non pattern interrogatories, and what exactly does the interrogatory process entail?

Understanding Divorce Interrogatories 

The interrogatory process involves you answering questions under oath that deal specifically with various information that the opposing party wants to obtain.  You submit the answers to your questions to the other party so that they can be reviewed and so that they may potentially be submitted to the divorce or family court judge. The answers can then aid the judge as he makes his decision about various parts of the case.  The two types of interrogatories, pattern and non pattern, refer to the nature and scope of the questions that are asked in the interrogatory itself.

  • A pattern interrogatory is a common, pre approved set of questions that is used generically in all family law proceedings that require an interrogatory process.  A pattern interrogatory may have been pre approved or at least reviewed by the state, county, or whatever governing body the family law court falls under, and is generally sort of a “form letter” with basic questions that are required of anyone going through a divorce court proceeding.  These interrogatories are well known to attorneys who practice family law and are a boilerplate solution to the complex issues surrounding discovery of information in a divorce proceeding.
  • A non pattern interrogatory is a set of interrogatory questions that have been generated specifically for the divorce case in hand.  These are often used if there are specific circumstances, assets, or other issues that are involved in the divorce proceedings that will need to be addressed during the discovery process.  Non pattern interrogatories may be used with the understanding that the judge may determine that some of the information asked is not relevant to the case, and may be later thrown out or not considered in the hearing.

Getting Help

When either writing or answering interrogatories, it is a good idea to have a lawyer. Your attorney can help you to determine how best to answer or phrase questions so you can best protect your legal rights during the divorce discovery process. 

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