Requests for Admissions : The Poor Guy’s Depositions

Requests for admissions can be a very effective tool in a family law case and are darned cheap fun. There are many tools for discovery (both sides exchanging information, often financial) in a family law case. Depositions are when either party, or a witness, has to answer questions under oath. This is a great way to get information, nail someone down on an answer, and have tools to impeach them in court if they give a different answer. The downside to depositions; very expensive.  A court reporter, being paid hourly, is there  in addition to the lawyers.  In order to  use it in court  this conversation will get typed up in a transcript, which can run easily into hundreds of dollars.

Requests for admissions are very different. This is a list of statements that the other party must admit or deny. If they do not do either, the Court must treat all of those statements as admitted, or proven true. If the party denies something that turns out to be true,the Judge will be shown that person is not credible and there can be attorney’s fees awarded based on the  dishonesty.  The same is true if the party objects to the statements and the Judge thinks they should have answered them. If the facts are admitted, it is very fast and easy to establish those facts at trial.

It is important that the statements in a Request for Admissions be worded effectively. There cannot be any wiggle room for admitting or denying the statement.  For example if you want to establish that the other spouse has dissipated (used improperly)  marital money for travel with a lover,  you would not use

“You have traveled frequently with M. Doe”..because that does not prove anything about using marital funds

You might use a series of statements that directly involve using marital funds such as

“You have paid money for  expenses related to travel  with M. Doe at least once in the last 12 months”

“You have paid to purchase airfare travel for a trip with M. Doe at least once in the last 12 months”

* “You have utilized Visa # ***1234 during personal travel with M. Doe at least once in the last 12 months”

There can only be one issue per statement so that it is clear what is being admitted or denied.  For example, if the statement is “You have purchased personal meals or travel with marital credit cards” is a poorly worded statement, if the answer is yes, it could be that they have used a joint credit card for meals or travel that is personal  or for entertaining M. Doe. One would arguably be marital and proper, and the other not.

Just as in depositions or other types of discovery, Request for Admissions can cover areas not permitted in court room testimony.  In discovery, any question or request that “might” lead to evidence that could be used in court is permitted, where as in trial only evidence that fits the formal rules of admissibility can be presented. This means that there is very wide latitude when asking questions in Requests for Admissions, and typically if a court believes that they are  intended to get to permitted evidence they will allow them.  The court can limit either the amount of questions or the  subject matter of discovery if those questions are unreasonable or only intended to harass.

If you are on the receiving end of request for admissions, an objection can and should be filed in response to any questions that are unclear, compound, or unreasonable. Otherwise, answer the questions honestly and timely in order not to not suffer the consequences discussed above, and talk to your lawyer about filing your own!

Diana

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9 Responses to Requests for Admissions : The Poor Guy’s Depositions

  1. Vi says:

    Can you guide me to the right place to find an example of questions asked in a request for admissions in a child custody hearing?
    Thanks!!

  2. Diana M. Tennis says:

    You want to use short one sentence statements, usually that you already know the answer to. For example if the person on the other side has a criminal history and it may be difficult to prove if they don’t admit it, you can use:

    You were arrested for DUI between the years 2000-2001
    ___________                                    ______________
    Admit                                                    Deny

    You were arrested in the presence of one of your children on a drug charge in 2003

    ___________                                   ______________
    Admit                                                   Deny

    You have not paid child support since January 2010
    ____________                                  _________________
    Admit                                                    Deny

    The school district the Mother is in is “A” rated……you get the idea

    Remember to have impact it must be things that the judge is going to think are important, and that is not always what the party thinks are important!
    Hope that helps!

    Diana

  3. Dan Schramm says:

    Thanks for the article. I am doing a multi-party case pro se and need to know if the limit on admissions is per case or per party? Thank you kindly.

  4. admin says:

    The rule seems to indicate that for any particular action you can request an aggregate of up to 30 without asking for court permission. Court permission would normally be granted showing good cause, meaning the questions are relevant and leading to admissible information. A supplemental proceeding, like a modification would be considered “new” for discovery purposes. Hope that helps.

  5. Ed says:

    In the first paragraph you state “Depositions are when either party, or a witness, has to answer questions under oath,” You then go on to say how reuests for admissions are cheaper, and I might add special interrogatories. However, neither requests for admission not special interrogatories can be given to a “witness” who is not a party to an action. these witnesses must still be deposed. You didn’t point that out.

    • admin says:

      Good point and you are correct. It is also true though, 90% of all family law litigation does not involve witnesses other than the parties in my experience.

  6. Steve Perez says:

    Im A pro se petitioner/father. The mother is custodial parent,she has an attorney in a visitation case. Do I need to file a motion to submit questions to her or can I just send them certified mail? Do I just serve all parties a copy like other motions? This is Illinois.

    • admin says:

      I would assume Ill. has their “Civil Rules of Procedure” or something like it on line that would give you the rules that exist about Requests for Admissions (they might call it something different). In Florida there is no need for permission.

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