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What is Discovery? Also Known as

Interrogatories and Request for Production of Documents

During a lawsuit, either side may choose to do discovery. Discovery is often time consuming and expensive, and somewhat cumbersome, but it allows both parties to have the facts before court, which saves everyone time and money at that stage of the case. There is no real way to make it easier, but we can give you an overview of what it means. A Request for Production of Documents (RPD) requires you or the opposing party to produce various documents to the other attorney. Interrogatories are written questions to a party that must be answered in writing and under oath.

Step One: Assess the Task 

When we receive the discovery request, you will receive a copy. Immediately skim the questions and list of requested documents to decide how much help you will need. This is critical.Feel free to schedule a time to meet with us to answer questions or explain the procedure. We are here to help you. However, depending on your circumstances, it might take less time and be less expensive for you to work with a local professional who regularly assists clients with the gathering and organization of financial records for discovery, preparing budgets and financial affidavits, and coordinating benefits. 

Step Two: Hunting and Gathering

Within two weeks of your receiving the requests, please deliver all the documentation you do have in your possession to us, along with your answers to the questions.

  • Please respond to the questions in writing, ideally by e-mail to our staff, which saves our time and your money. 
  • You don’t need an appointment to drop off documents.
  • Talk with us before you pay for records (such as old bank or credit card statements) because we might be able to modify the request.
  • If requested records are in the possession of the opposing party, or if you do not have the records in your possession after searching for them, please include a note to that effect when you drop off the documents.
  • Feel free to “mark up” a copy of the interrogatories or ideally e-mail your responses to our staff, which saves additional time for preparing the responses.

Step Three: Finalize It

When we receive your answers, we will finalize the “legal” part, such as raising any objections to the question, or working with you to answer the questions that ask about the law. Once you have reviewed the final draft and are satisfied that it is correct and accurate, you must sign the response, which is “sworn” (i.e., you are under oath to tell the truth).  Bear in mind that your answers may be used by the opposing attorney during any cross examination if we are in court. Be certain you are being totally honest. Perjury is a crime, whether spoken or written.

Step Four: Uh oh 

If you fail to promptly and fully respond to discovery requests can lead to sanctions, including an order to pay the attorney’s fees for the other party. The other party can file a motion to compel you to respond, which is a court order. Failure to obey the court order is punishable by contempt of court (i.e., incarceration).

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