There are legal tools that exist in the Rhode Island Domestic Relations Rules of Procedure and in virtually every state and commonwealth that a party can use to discover their opponent's claims and what evidence they might have against you.
So what could you use.
In Rhode Island there are several main "Discovery Tools" as I prefer to call them. They are generally as follows:
REQUESTS FOR PRODUCTION OF DOCUMENTS AND THING AND EXAMINATION OF LAND
REQUESTS FOR ADMISSIONS
SUBPOENAS DUCES TECUM
There is an additional one in some jurisdictions that provides in some situations that is a Request for a Mental Health or Medical Examination but it is rarely used in divorce cases as compared to the other tools.
These discovery tools would be used by you or your attorney to find out what your spouse will use against you, the find the strengths and/or weaknesses in your spouse's case, to gain evidence about your spouse's credibility and for other purposes relevant to your case.
Each tool performs in a different way. Today we will address Interrogatories.
Interrogatories are questions that you may send to the opposing spouse that he or she must answer under oath or objected to within a specific time period set forth by the Rules of the Court. The answers may be used not only to discovery aspects of your opponent's case but they also may be used at the time of trial for a variety of purposes that support your case or damage the other spouse's case. In Rhode Island Family Court the number of questions you may ask, including subparts, is limited to thirty (30) unless you obtain approval of the court to ask more questions.
The next article will cover a description of another powerful tool used in divorce cases to learn your opposing spouse's position and to build your own case in the event you are headed for trial or need bargaining leverage for settlement.
In the series of articles to following their descriptions I will give examples of how each particular tool might be used and perhaps even some of the traps to avoid falling into when you are sent a particular set of documents that must be responded to.
Rule 33 of the RI Rules of Prodedure for Domestic Relations governs interrogatory use in divorce and family court cases and it works in conjunction with Rule 26 which relates to the majority of the other "discovery tools" as you will see later.
Rule 33 as of the writing of this posting is as follows:
Rule 33. INTERROGATORIES TO PARTIES
(a) Availability; Answers; Objections. Any party may serve upon any adverse party written interrogatories to be answered by the party served or, if the party served is a public or private corporation or a partnership or association, by any officer or agent, who shall furnish such information as is available to the party. Interrogatories may be served after commencement of the action and without leave of court, except that, if service is made by the plaintiff within twenty (20) days after service upon the defendant, leave of court granted with or without notice must first be obtained. The interrogatories shall be answered separately and fully in writing under oath. The answers shall be signed by the person making them; and the party upon whom the interrogatories have been served shall serve a copy of the answers on the party submitting the interrogatories within forty (40) days after the service of the interrogatories, unless the court on motion and notice and for good cause shown, enlarges or shortens the time. With his or her answers a party may serve specific written objections to particular interrogatories, stating the grounds on which they are based. Failure to serve such objections shall constitute a waiver thereof. Answers to interrogatories to which objection is made may be deferred until an order to answer is entered in accordance with Rule 37(a) upon motion of the interrogating party. Such objections or motion made without substantial justification shall be subject to the sanctions set forth in Rule 37(a).
(b) Scope; Limitations. Interrogatories may relate to any matters which can be inquired into under Rule 26(b), and the answers may be used to the same extent as provided in Rule 26(d) for the use of the deposition of a party. Interrogatories may be served after a deposition has been taken, and a deposition may be sought after interrogatories have been answered, but the court on motion of the deponent or the party interrogated, may make such protective order as justice may require. A party shall not serve more than one set of interrogatories upon an adverse party nor shall the number of interrogatories exceed thirty (30) unless the court otherwise orders for good cause shown. The provisions of Rule 30(b) are applicable for the protection of the party from whom answers to interrogatories are sought under this rule.
(c) Continuing Duty to Answer. If the party furnishing answers to interrogatories shall obtain subsequently information which renders such answers incomplete, amended answers shall be served not later than ten (10) days prior to the day fixed for trial. Thereafter amendments may be allowed only on motion and upon such terms as the court may direct.
[Rule 33 is Accurate as of November 2, 2012]
Bookmark this website for upcoming articles on other Discovery Tools you can use in your divorce that can help give you an advantage.
All My Best to You on Your Journey Through The RI Family Court,
Attorney Christopher A. Pearsall - "The Rhode Island Divorce Coach"™
Affordable Divorce Representation and Coaching for Providence, Kent, Washington and Newport Counties.
Call me for your reduced-cost advice session at (401) 632-6976.