DISCOVERY in California Marital Proceedings - What Are Requests for Admission?

Q. How do I use Requests for Admission in my dissolution proceeding?

What Are Requests for Admission?

Requests for Admission ("RFA's") can be a useful discovery tool in family law proceedings because they allow parties in divorce and partnership litigation to resolve issues one way or another so that no evidence need be introduced at trial by asking the other party to admit or deny something. This typically involves establishing that certain documents are genuine (i.e., a prenuptial agreement entered into before marriage or a transfer deed or promissory note or copies of documents where original are missing or destroyed). Once this document is admitted as genuine, no further foundational evidence needs to be offered to admit the item into evidence. Other uses include establishing that certain property belongs to the community estate, or that it is one party's separate property. Your questions, or statements of fact or law, must either be admitted or denied by the responding party. If admitted, no further evidence need be offered on the subject issue at any later hearing; the Family Court to take what was admitted to as established. Once admitted, no contradicting evidence can be introduced to disprove it.

Requests for Admission are governed by California Code of Civil Procedure section 2033.010 and the statutes that follow with that code. We have provided some of the more important ones on our Family Code Statutes page.

You are entitled to ask a total of 35 RFA's as a matter of right. But you can ask as many as you need, as long as they are requested for a proper purpose, relevant, not overly burdensome, and you also have executed and supplied the Declaration for Additional Discovery required by CCP § 2033.050.

There is a Judicial Council form that you can use for RFA's, but it is not required. I will upload and link to that form shortly. I also provide my own form that you can modify for your use on our Free Sample Family Law Forms Portal!

Always Combine RFAs with the Civil Form Interrogatories

Another important use for Admission's Requests is that you can combine them with Civil Form Interrogatories, Number 17.1, which requires the responding party to state all facts and evidence that they know of, and other relevant information, for each RFA which they refuse to admit. This can flesh out claims and defenses of the other party that you may be wondering about, and the evidence and witnesses which the other party claims will support them. The answers to these form interrogatories may also establish that a denial of an otherwise undisputed fact, or genuine document, was not in good faith. Often parties will refuse to admit something that should be admitted, so forcing them to explain what evidence justifies that refusal helps set up that their refusal is bogus or in bad faith.

One of the chief benefits of RFA's beyond putting to rest matters that are really not issues (and hence saving the time and money to otherwise prove or disprove them), is that a failure to admit them in good faith gives the Court discretion to award the asking party their legal expenses and costs in producing evidence on those same issues if the Court later decides at trial that they were not reasonably in dispute.

As with some other types of discovery (interrogatories and production requests) the responding party has thirty days to answer (plus five more if you serve them by mail). Make sure you always provide a proof of service signed by a non party with any type of discovery you serve.

If the other party fails to respond to your Requests for Admission, you are entitled to file a motion that the requests be deemed admitted. Other sanctions might be available, like a court finding no evidence challenging the proposed undisputed items may be offered by the other side in later proceedings.

The subject of objections to discovery is a complicated one for another day. Check our search engine to see if I've written about it by the time you've landed here. For more information on Family Law discovery tools, click here.

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