Savvy Tactics For Divorce Court #2 Failure to answer Request for Admissions of Fact and Genuineness of Documents – deadlines and consequences?
Some Discovery failures such as to produce documents, or to answer questions range from the disastrous to the inconsequential. Often it depends upon the lenity of the judge deciding the punishment for non-compliance Yet, Admissions unanswered, or answered incorrectly, represent a hammer blow to the noncompliant party. They do not even permit the judge to give lenity, even if he/she were so inclined!
Failure to answer Request for Admissions and Genuineness of Documents on time and sufficiently fall under what some lawyers would call “shall” rules versus “may” rules. This is critical.
If a rule, a statute, a guiding case, or some other legal mandate indicates: The court “may” do this, “may” punish in this way, or “may” take some other action to impart the consequences for noncompliance those consequences are then in part based upon what the judge thinks is fair. In the case of a “shall” mandate, a “shall” rule, or a “shall” guiding case or statute: The judge is required to take prescribed action no matter how unfair or draconian that may seem to the uninitiated. End of story!!!
Admissions, unanswered or answered incorrectly, require the court to deem those matters admitted after the prescribed time to answer. No parole, go directly to jail, do not pass go, sorry about your luck, Kirk out!!
The only hope the uninitiated lawyer or party stands to get their asses out of hot water with failure to answer Admissions, is to hope that the Admission questions were crafted inartfully making it possible to “wiggle” your way out of them. This is by no means a good plan to rely upon!
I am reminded of the following colloquy: Man #1: “What is our plan?” Man #2: “Run!” Man #1: “Running is not a plan, you idiot! Running is what you do when a plan fails!”
Answering Admissions immediately is the plan! Hoping that you can wiggle out of unanswered or improperly answered Admissions, is what you do when the plan fails.
An excellent policy is to respond to Admissions within 48 to 72 hours . Don’t even come close to missing that deadline. Two decades ago, I knew a divorce and custody lawyer who was presented with the full-on disaster of having not timely answered Admissions. He wiggled out, but I am convinced at least 5 years we’re shaved off his life as a result.
Avoid this mistake at all and any cost!
Tim Conlon Esquire at