Interrogatories are another part of the discovery process that are used to help the individual to learn the facts that are the basis for, or support, a pleading with which they have been served by the opposing party. They are also one of the most commonly used methods in the discovery process. They are used primarily to determine what issues are present in a case and how to prepare a responsive pleading or a deposition.
They are used to obtain relevant information that a party has regarding a case, but they cannot be used to obtain privileged communications (legally protected from discovery). Interrogatory questions must be carefully crafted and be specific to obtain the relevant response.
A party can seek information that is within the personal knowledge of the other or that might necessitate a review of their records in order to answer. No party can be compelled to answer interrogatories that involve matters beyond their control. When questions are not valid, consist of multiple requests, or have material issues with their construction, a party may object to the question (thus not answering) until a court determines if the question is valid or not.
There are two types of interrogatories
- Form interrogatories
- Special interrogatories
Form interrogatories are general questions that are used in nearly every case. There are different form interrogatories that can be used in different cases. Special interrogatories are questions that are prepared by an attorney that ask specific questions about the case.
The following are examples of possible Interrogatories (seeking information about income for support purposes) that may be seen in a divorce:
- For each of your present employment, self-employment, business, commercial, or professional activities, state the following:
- How often and on what days you are paid.
- An itemization of your gross salary, wages, and income, and all deductions from that gross salary, wages, and income.
- Any additional compensation or expense reimbursement, including but not limited to overtime, bonuses, profit-sharing, insurance, expense account, and automobile or automobile allowance.
- If you are the owner, participant, or alternate payee in any pension, profit-sharing, deferred compensation, or retirement plan, state the following:
- The name of the plan, along with the name and address of the plan administrator or trustee.
- A description of the plan.
- The account balance of any money held for your benefit.
- The location and last valuation date of said asset.
- List all accounts, including checking, money market, brokerage, or any other investments that you have had any legal or equitable interest in within the last three years.
- State the location of all safes, vaults, or other similar depositories in which you maintained property at any time during the last three years.
- List all other assets that you own, have an interest in, or have the use or benefit of, not listed above, including but not limited to all real and personal property.