Writing and Responding to Interrogatories During Divorce
When a divorce between two married people has taken a turn for the worse and both parties are opposing each other in almost every matter, one of the most important procedures that is carried out by either side is the use of divorce interrogatories. Interrogatories are questionnaires that may be submitted to either side in a divorce by the opposing party, and which are legally required to be filled out completely and accurately.
- Failure to complete these forms within 30 days of receipt of the document may result in a contempt of court charge.
- Furthermore, falsifying any information on an interrogatory is typically punishable by a perjury charge, which is a felony in some states.
Any party that receives an interrogatory does have the right, however, to enter an objection to any of the questions that are included in the document that are either irrelevant to the case or simply onerous in nature.
Completing an Interrogatory
Because of the fact that an interrogatory is basically exactly what it sounds like- an interrogation- anyone who is asked to complete one of these documents should answer any question within them as matter-of-factly as possible, not offering any more information than the question requests.
If the question is aggressive or complicated in nature, a simple objection statement may be entered to the effect of, “I, (state name) object to answering this question because (reason stated)” should suffice in the court’s point of view. However, if the question directly relates to the divorce, in most cases it will be required to either answer the question, or produce the documentation requested (most interrogatories request items like copies of tax returns, bank statements, etc).
Because answering the questions in an interrogatory is somewhat intrusive in nature, it is always best to respond to questions that may be designed to embarrass or show fault with the least amount of emotion as possible. Keep every answer truthful, but only express the point of the answer, not a drawn out explanation for it. The opportunity for explanations will come when each party is before the judge.
Common Regulations for Interrogatories
Because of the nature of both divorce and interrogatories, these documents are usually required by law in many states to be of a certain length, due to the fact that some lawyers will create overly extended interrogatories in order to keep the other party distracted trying to complete the document honestly. This can often drag down and burden the court room process, and is generally a simple tactic used to throw the opposition off of its course. The allowed length of the document differs from state to state, so anyone who receives an interrogatory should immediately bring the document to a lawyer to discuss the completion and filing of the document, as well as to determine whether the document itself is legal in nature.
Divorce is rarely pleasant, and if interrogatories are being sent, this means you likely weren't able to communicate without getting the courts involved. As such, it is imperative to get a lawyer to either help you prepare or help you answer the divorce interrogatories so you can ensure your legal rights are protected.