By: Justin M. Smigelsky, Esq.
Discovery, the process by which litigants may acquire information relevant to issues in dispute, is often the most-expensive and most-important part of the contested divorce process. Although it is not required that a party serve discovery demands upon his or her adversary, a waiver of discovery or a failure to pursue available information may cause pertinent information to go undetected, affect the fairness of a Marital Settlement Agreement, and impact the Court’s ability to reach an equitable result in the unlikely event that the divorce matter goes to trial. Accordingly, it is essential that all relevant information be pursued through discovery so that the litigant may make informed decisions and prove his or her position as to any issue in dispute.
Interrogatories, written questions served upon the other party which must be answered under oath, are probably the most-informative and most-popular discovery device. Pursuant to the Rules of Court for the Chancery Division, Family Part, “Interrogatories as to all issues in all family actions may be served by any party as of course” in accordance with Rule 4:17, which applies to Interrogatories for civil practice in New Jersey Courts. It is important to note that, despite the language of the Court Rules, Interrogatories in matrimonial litigation are ordinarily only an available discovery method in the pretrial context, and a Court Order is required for discovery in post-judgment motion practice.
With respect to the information sought by way of service of Interrogatories, parties to a divorce will ordinarily serve Interrogatories requesting information regarding asset identity and value, finance, custody, visitation, cohabitation, retirement plans, employability, standard of living, etc. In light of the requirement that the parties to a divorce provide financial disclosures by way of exchanging Case Information Statements, it is imperative that the Interrogatories be carefully crafted to request further or more adequate financial disclosure than as set forth on the Statement.
In sum, it is crucial that the Interrogatories propounded in divorce litigation include inquiries that are specifically tailored to the particular circumstances of the case; for example, information regarding parenting style and personal background may be more relevant in the event of a custody dispute, while information regarding education and employable skills will be most appropriate when an award of alimony is anticipated.
If you have any questions in regards to the divorce process, your Marital Settlement Agreement, alimony, child support, or family law, you may wish to consult with an experienced family law attorney. This article is for information purposes only, and is neither legal advice nor the creation of an attorney client relationship.
Justin M. Smigelsky, Esq. / Timothy J. Little, P.C. / 2016 / All Rights Reserved
Timothy J. Little, P.C. is a full-service law firm with offices in Woodbridge and Chesterfield, New Jersey. Timothy J. Little, P.C. represents individuals, families and businesses throughout New Jersey including Middlesex County (Old Bridge, Woodbridge, Sayreville, East Brunswick, Spotswood, Perth Amboy, Dunellen, Colonia, Sewaren, Iselin, Avenel, Fords, Keasbey, Menlo Park, Port Reading, South Amboy, Monroe, Edison, Carteret, Cranbury, Helmetta, South River, Milltown, Highland Park, Jamesburg, Laurence Harbor), Monmouth County (Hazlet, Aberdeen, Matawan, Keyport, Cliffwood Beach, Middletown, Freehold), Union County, Ocean County, Somerset County, and Burlington County. If you have any questions or concerns regarding family law or divorce, please contact the attorneys at Timothy J. Little, P.C.