The Oklahoma discovery process in a divorce is the time where both sides have an opportunity to gather information from a third party. The focus is to obtain information in preparation for settlement or trial.
An Oklahoma divorce law outlines the scope of the information that can be requested.
“Parties may obtain discovery regarding any matter, not privileged, which is relevant to the subject matter involved in the pending action, whether it relates to the claim or defense of the party seeking discovery or to the claim or defense of any other party, including the existence, description, nature, custody, condition and location of any documents, electronically stored information or other tangible things and the identity and location of persons having knowledge of any discoverable matter. It is not a ground for objection that the information sought will be inadmissible at the trial if the information sought appears reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence.” 12 O.S. § 3226 (B)(1)(a)
There are various methods of discovery that a party can utilize, though the following is a list of the most common methods:
1) Deposition upon oral examination;
2) Deposition upon written questions;
4) Requests for Production; and
5) Requests for Admission.
This article concerns the latter three options; depositions will be discussed in a separate article.
Interrogatories are a set of written questions propounded by one party and required to be answered by the opposing party under oath within 30 days, except the Respondent does not have to respond any sooner than 45 days from the service of the petition and summons.
You are limited to 30 interrogatories per party in the case, unless a written stipulation is reached or the court authorizes. There is a statutory procedure for requesting additional interrogatories, and this procedure must be followed before the additional requests are made.
“No further interrogatories will be served unless authorized by the court. If counsel for a party believes that more than thirty interrogatories are necessary, he shall consult with opposing counsel promptly and attempt to reach a written stipulation as to a reasonable number of additional interrogatories. Counsel are expected to comply with this requirement in good faith. In the event a written stipulation cannot be agreed upon, the party seeking to submit such additional interrogatories shall file a motion with the court (1) showing that counsel have conferred in good faith but sincere attempts to resolve the issue have been unavailing, (2) showing reasons establishing good cause for their use, and (3) setting forth the proposed additional interrogatories.” 12 O.S. § 3233 (A)
Requests for production of documents compel the opposing party to produce certain documents in his/her control. Like interrogatories, the response to this request must be provided within 30 days except the Respondent does not have to response any sooner than 45 days from the service of the petition and summons.
A party is also limited to 30 requests for production unless a specific procedure is followed, similar to what is required for requesting additional interrogatories.
If a party is requesting to inspect an item, that request has to meet the requirements of 12 O.S. § 3233 (B)(3) and the request:
a. Shall set forth and describe with reasonable particularity the items to be inspected either by individual item or by category;
b. Shall specify a reasonable time, place and manner of making the inspection and performing the related acts; and
c. May specify the form or forms in which electronically stored information is to be produced.
Requests for Admissions are essentially true/false statements. Like Interrogatories and Requests for Production, there is a limit of 30 Requests for Admission, unless the court authorizes otherwise.
“The matter is admitted unless, within thirty (30) days after service of the request, or within such shorter or longer time as the court may allow, the party to whom the request is directed serves upon the party requesting the admission a written answer or objection addressed to the matter, signed by the party or by his attorney, but unless the court shortens the time, a defendant shall not be required to serve answers or objections before the expiration of forty-five (45) days after service of the summons and petition upon him.” 12 O.S. § 3236 (A)
The only proper answer to a Request for Admission is either:
2) Deny; or
3) No answers because there is a valid objection.
Request for Admission are used to help narrow areas of dispute in a case.
If you are a man facing divorce in Oklahoma, please consult with a divorce lawyer in your jurisdiction to ensure your rights are protected.
Cordell & Cordell has offices and family law attorneys located in Oklahoma City and Tulsa and licensed to practice throughout the state should you seek additional information or possible legal representation.