Q: I am in the middle of a divorce. A couple of days ago, my attorney sent me an email with an extremely long document attached, entitled interrogatories and request for production of documents. Do I really have to answer all of these questions? They seem very invasive, and my spouse already has all of this information. What is going on?

A: Interrogatories and requests for production of documents are part of what is known in the legal world as discovery. They are commonly utilized in all types of litigation, not just divorce. The purpose of discovery in divorce cases is to document assets, liabilities, and personal property, as well as to understand the other party's potential defenses or point of view if the case actually goes to trial. Interrogatories are questions that a party is required to answer under oath. If the interrogatories are on file, and it is later discovered after the divorce that a party concealed assets from the other, the misrepresentation is documented. It can be a major chore to answer these materials. Sometimes an attorney will accept a sworn affidavit testifying to any assets and liabilities in place of formal document discovery. But in most cases, if the interrogatories are served, the attorneys will expect them to be fully answered.

Talk to your attorney about any interrogatories you receive. In many cases, some of the questions are objectionable, and your attorney will tell you which ones are proper and which ones may be subject to legal objection. After you have provided your rough draft answers to your attorney, he or she will refine them and put in the appropriate objections if necessary. While it is a cumbersome process to answer interrogatories, if your case actually goes to trial, you and your attorney will ultimately be better prepared for trial or mediation if you have answered any discovery materials thoroughly. You should also discuss with your attorney whether he or she plans to conduct formal discovery of your opponent. In the legal world, what goes around comes around.

For more information about discovery of evidence in a Michigan divorce case, click here.