HOW TO ANSWER DISCOVERY REQUESTS IN VIRGINIA
This article will provide some answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about how to answer discovery requests received by the attorneys at The Hopkins Law Firm:
What are discovery requests?
Discovery requests are questions that are issued in civil or criminal matters to receive answers to questions relevant to a case. They may be issued formally through a Court or informally via letters between parties to a case.
What discovery requests are issued in divorces?
Parties may expect to receive and or issue requests for admissions, requests for interrogatories and requests for production of documents.
- Requests for admissions are simple questions that a party must answer by admitting, denying, or
asserting their fifth amendment rights.
- Requests for production of documents ask a party to provide documentation for any account, property, asset or debt relevant to a marriage.
- Requests for interrogatories are detailed questions relevant to a marriage that a party must answer
to the best of their ability. Some of the interrogatories will mirror the requests for documents; a party may be asked to list bank accounts to answer an interrogatory and then provide bank statements in the request for documents.
Why am I receiving discovery requests?
Discovery requests are usually issued to receive a complete picture of marital finances or custody to finalize an agreement or prepare for an upcoming trial in court. In other circumstances, discovery is issued to inquire about the specifics of fault ground issues such as adultery.
There are so many questions! Do I really have to do these?
The recipient of the requests has an obligation to make a good faith effort to complete their responses/answers to the requests they received as long as the divorce is incomplete. The only way discovery would not have to be answered is if the requesting party formally withdrew their requests or if the parties enter into an agreement after the requests have been issued. The requests are no longer relevant if an agreement is formalized stating the same, and because issuing discovery requests are usually done specifically to complete an agreement or prepare for trial.
If the recipient of discovery has been representing their own interests without an attorney through the process but feels unequipped to answer the discovery questions, seeking legal counsel is the best course of action to take.
When do I have to answer the requests?
Formally issued discovery requests must be answered within twenty‐one days of receiving the requests alone or within twenty‐eight days of receiving a request with a Complaint for Divorce. While a reasonable extension may be requested, the party requesting answers does not have an obligation to grant an unreasonable extension or multiple extensions.
What happens if I answer some but not all of, or none of, the discovery requests?
If an incomplete answer is provided, you may expect to receive what is referred to as a “deficiency
letter”, which lists all missing or incomplete questions that must be remedied within a certain time frame.
If an answer is not provided at all or deficiencies are not remedied, the Court’s intervention may be sought in the form of a Motion to Compel, wherein a Judge would order the questions be answered in an Order to Compel if the motion was granted.
If a Motion to Compel was brought against someone who made no good faith efforts to answer the requests, the party bringing the motion may choose to petition the Court for an award of attorney’s fees in addition to the requests being completed.
There are so many questions, can they really ask this many?
Although there is a limit to how many questions may be asked in discovery requests, receiving them often feels overwhelming, especially for people who are unfamiliar with civil litigation. If you have been issued discovery requests and you do not feel that you are able to properly complete them on your own, The Hopkins Law Firm is ready to help you.
Do I have to provide original documents?
Requests for admissions and requests for interrogatories may have a page that requires a notarized signature. The original notarized signature should be provided with final answers to discovery to the requesting party.
When answering requests for production of documents, copies of documents may be provided. However, they must be complete copies. For example, if a credit card statement has four pages and the first two pages contain the requested information, but the second two pages are partially blank or contain advertisements, all four pages should still be provided.
How can The Hopkins Law Firm help me with my discovery requests?
The attorneys at The Hopkins Law Firm have significant experience with answering and issuing discovery requests. There are some circumstances which would allow for a discovery request to be objected to; by hiring one of the experienced attorneys at The Hopkins Law Firm, clients have peace of mind that every question able to objected to was identified, reducing the amount of answers to be provided. With the assistance of the legal team at The Hopkins Law Firm, you can efficiently and properly respond to discovery, and issue requests of your own if needed.
To schedule a consultation, contact The Hopkins Law Firm today via telephone at 571‐248‐2210 or via email at [email protected] Their team is ready to help you with your unqiue legal needs