For those going through a divorce who already have a Rhode Island
Divorce Lawyer, this may be something you have come across. It is
called "template discovery". It is not a practice that I participate
in. Some divorce lawyers will justify the practice by stating that
template discovery is necessary to prevent a claim by the client of
legal malpractice on their part. I completely disagree.
I am, however, getting ahead of myself. It is best that I explain what "template discovery" is.
During the course of any litigation process, including divorces and
separations, their are certain procedural rules that allow for methods
to be used to "discover" the other party's position, asset, etc. These
methods are best referred to as "legal tools" that are afforded to
litigants and their attorneys.
One such tool is called "Interrogatories". These are simply questions
that must be answered under oath or objected to by the person to whom
they have been sent within forty (40) days of the date they were sent.
The date they were sent is known as the date of certification and it is
contained in a formal "Certification" clause at the bottom of the
interrogatories and other forms of discovery. Interrogatories are
limited to thirty (30) in number unless a party obtains permission of
the Rhode Island Family Court.
Another such discovery tool is called a Request for Production of
Documents and Other Things. This is a document prepared and sent to an
opposing party for him or her to produce documents and other relevant
things for inspection within twenty (20) days of the date the request
was sent as set forth in the "Certification" or to object to the
production based upon a legal basis or privilege. Requests for
Production of Documents are unlimited in number and may be sent in
numerous sets. Although the Rhode Island Domestic Relations Rules of
Procedure required only that you produce the documents and other things
for copying and inspection (presumably at the opposing party's
expense), litigants typically produce copies of the documents and other
things to the extent possible and mail their to the opposing party to
their divorce attorney.
Another discovery tool provided by Rule 36 of the Rhode Island Rules of
Domestic Relations Procedure is called a Request for Admissions. In
this document a divorce litigant is ask to admit either the
truthfulness of a particular statement or the genuineness or
authenticity of a particular document. Litigants who receive a Request
for Admissions have only ten (10) days from the date of Certification
on the document to object to the request based upon a legal ground or
privilege and only twenty (20) days to file their formal response to
the requests that are not properly objected to. Failure to file the
objections in a timely fashion, and failure to file a response within
the (20) days is considered a waiver of objection and the genuineness
of documents and statements are deemed admitted.
Depositions are also a discovery tool that may be used in the Rhode
Island Family Court but permission of the court must first be obtained
before a deposition may be taken and depositions are not pertinent to
Now that you understand a bit more about the discovery tools available
in a Rhode Island Divorce proceeding you will better be able to
understand the concept of "template discovery".
Template discovery is usually reserved to Interrogatories and Requests
for Production of Documents. In essence the divorce attorney has
created a set of Interrogatories and/or Request for Production of
Documents as a "template". In other words, the Interrogatories and/or
Request for Production of Documents contain every question and every
request that the attorney might want to ask in ANY divorce case. Now a
portion of the Interrogatories and the Requests for Production might
well relate to your case. In fact it is possible that that all might
relate to your case. However, these are templates that were created
months or even years ago to be used over and over again. Generally
they are given to a secretary the caption is changed to put the name of
you and your spouse, the Docket number is changed and the date of
Certification is filled in differently.
Now, I must admit that as a divorce attorney this is economical. You
have one set of each document and you send it out in every case. It
saves enormous time for the attorney. Yet here is the kicker. If each
of those documents took 2 hours to create, even if it was 10 years ago,
you'll find in some cases that you as the client are charged 4 hours
for these Interrogatories and Request for Production of Documents. Do
you find that fair? I certainly don't.
Take a look at the Interrogatories and Request for Production of
documents that were sent to your spouse by your attorney. Do they
relate specifically and ONLY to your divorce issues or do they ask for
a bunch of things that don't relate to your situation at all? If they
don't, call you divorce attorneys and get your bill. How much were you
charged for "preparing' those documents? If you see several hours of
time on your bill and the discovery isn't specific to your case, you've
been a victim of "template discovery" a method used by some divorce
attorneys to make extra money without doing the work.
Divorce is hard enough without your own attorney taking advantage of
you. In closing, there is one more thing you may want to consider.
Did your divorce attorney ask your permission before sending out this
If you've been taken advantage of in the manner described above, ask yourself, don't I deserve better?
Christopher A. Pearsall, Esquire
PEARSALL LAW ASSOCIATES
571 Pontiac Avenue
Cranston, RI 02910
Phone: (401) 354-2369
Attorney Pearsall's practice is focused almost exclusively in the areas of Divorce and Family law.
CALL (401) 354-2369 now to schedule for your low-cost, no obligation legal consultation!
NOTE: The postings on this website are NOT legal advice, DO NOT create an attorney/client relationship and are NOT a substitute for a detailed consultation with an attorney experienced in the state where you have your legal issue. This site is based on Rhode Island and is presented for the convenience of the internet public.
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Copyright 2008 - Christopher A. Pearsall and Pearsall Law Associates (All Rights Reserved.)