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Rhode Island Divorce Tips: Interrogatories

Whether you've been through a Rhode Island Divorce proceeding yet or not, you may have heard this word in other legal contexts.  The word is "Interrogatories".

In a Rhode Island Divorce proceeding you or your attorney may receive Interrogatories that have been prepared by the opposing party.  Interrogatories are questions that must be answered and signed under oath by the party in the divorce (not his or her attorney) before a notary public. 

In a Rhode Island Divorce proceeding you have forty (40) days from the date of service of the Interrogatories to answer or otherwise object to the questions being asked of you.  If you don't answer or object to the interrogatories within the forty (40) day period then generally you will be deemed to have waived any objections you may have to the questions.

The likely result thereafter is that the opposing party or his or her divorce attorney will file a Motion to Compel Answers to Interrogatories and absent a compelling reason you will be ordered to answer the questions.

So what is the tip? 

1)  Don't miss the forty (40) day deadline if you have any objections.  Keep in mind that this is NOT forty (40) business days.  Weekends and holidays are included in the days a party is afforded in  order to respond. 

2)  Make sure you or your attorney put in valid objections within the forty (40) days, especially if some questions are designed purely to harass you.

3.  Use VALID Objections.  For instance, you can't object simply because you don't want to answer the question.  You can't object just because the answer will hurt you.  You can't object simply because it is going to take you considerable time to answer the question. 

Typically objections will be left to your attorney in order to protect you.  However, this is part of your case.  You should know what your attorney is objecting to, why, and what the attorney stated for an objection.

If you have to object on your own. . . "study up" learn the valid objections and then use them appropriately.

Interrogatories are part of the phase of divorce litigation called "Discovery" and interrogatories are only one of several discovery tools.

Discovery is the portion of the litigation where questions are asked and documents are produced so that facts and information may be disclosed so each party can take his or her various positions and prepare for trial if necessary.  It has its pros and its cons as does each method or discovery tool.

For our purposes today this is only about interrogatories.  Make sure you meet your deadline and make sure you pose your valid objections in time or you could find yourself behind the eightball.

Authored by:

Christopher A. Pearsall, Esquire
571 Pontiac Avenue
Cranston, RI  02910
Phone:  (401) 354-2369

NOTE:  The postings on this website are NOT legal advice, DO NOT create an attorney/client relationship and are NOT a substitute for a detailed consultation with an attorney experienced in the state where you have your legal issue.  This site is presented for the convenience of the internet public.

* The Rhode Island Supreme Court licenses all lawyers in the general practice of law and has no procedure for recognition of specialty in any area of law.