Tonight’s very straight forward post about discovery was written by our Marietta family law attorney, Alyssa Blanchard.
Discovery is an important part of litigation. It is an important tool in obtaining useful information regarding your case. In the process of your family law litigation, you can expect your attorney to send out discovery requests to the opposing party and you can also expect to receive discovery requests from the opposing counsel.
There are several discovery tools. Two of the most often used methods in family law are written interrogatories and requests for the production of documents. Interrogatories are a list of questions that you will be required to answer and the request for production of documents will be a list of documents and things that you will need to provide.
Discovery can be an exhausting and time consuming part of your case. You will be required to gather all of the documents requested and to respond to the questions asked of you. You will then provide your responses to your attorney so that he/she may draft the formal responses to be submitted to Opposing Counsel.
There are specific deadlines to respond and consequences should you fail to submit your responses by the deadlines. The opposing counsel can file a Motion to Compel and seek attorney’s fees and sanctions. You can avoid a Motion to Compel and the possibility of having to pay attorney’s fees and/or being sanctioned by simply complying with discovery.
Should you receive a discovery request, here are some things to keep in mind.
Answer each interrogatory fully and in detail. An evasive or incomplete answer will be treated as a failure to answer. O.C.G.A. § 9-11-37(3). When you receive the Interrogatories answer each in full to the best of your ability. If the question is objectionable, your attorney will make the objection. If you do not have a response then state that.
If you do not have the document, don’t stress. You are only required to provide what you have in your possession or what you can reasonably obtain.
Don’t ignore the request. Failure to comply with discovery leaves you vulnerable to a Motion to Compel and possibly paying the other side’s attorney’s fees and/or being sanctioned. The judge can even prohibit you from introducing some evidence.
You have a deadline to meet. If the Interrogatories and Request to Produce are served along with the Complaint, you have 45 days from receipt of the discovery requests to respond. If the discovery request are mailed to you (or sent via statutory electronic service, i.e. email) you have 30 days to respond.
Remember, discovery is just as useful a tool for you as it is for the opposing party. When you find yourself overwhelmed with the task of preparing your responses, remember that the opposing party will have similar requests from your attorney that will allow you to obtain information and evidence that will be useful in resolving your case.