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When proceeding in a divorce case pro se, how do I file a discovery request?

Pittsburgh, PA |

My wife has an attorney. I do not. I recieved an interrogatory questionnaire. When I asked him for disclosure from my wife, her lawyer responded, "I have no affirmative obligation to give you anything absent a discovery request." How do I file for a discovery request?

Attorney Answers 5


  1. It is really next to impossible to proceed pro ce in a contested divorce case. If you cannot afford an attorney, there are many legal aid projects that deal with domestic issues. Good luck.


  2. If you are not going to use an attorney then you should find your local rules or court and look under disocvery, there will be the examples in their, take care.

    Legal disclaimer: The response given is not intended to create, nor does it create an ongoing duty to respond to questions. The response does not form an attorney-client relationship, nor is it intended to be anything other than the educated opinion of the author. It should not be relied upon as legal advice. The response given is based upon the limited facts provided by the person asking the question. To the extent additional or different facts exist, the response might possibly change. Attorney is licensed to practice law only in the State of Massachusetts. Responses are based solely on Massachusetts law unless stated otherwise.


  3. I agree with other counsel. I would suggest that you contact the bar association in Allegheny County to determine if you qualify for reduced services. There are forms available on line for discovery, but the requests must've relevant and tailored to your case, so it is not possible to provide you with this information in this venue.

    My response is based solely on the limited information contained in the question. It is not meant to substitute your attorney's advice.


  4. You should consult an attorney about filing discovery in your matter. There are very few programs that assist litigants with a contested divorce that involves the division of property in Allegheny County. There are a number of programs though that do offer free consultations.

    This answer is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. This Q&A forum does not create an attorney/client relationship. If you have a legal concern that is important to you, I urge you to consult with an attorney. For those who are concerned about their ability to afford legal assistance, the ACBA's Lawyer Referral Service may help: http://www.acbalrs.org


  5. I agree with the other attorneys who are urging you to get at least some legal advice regarding proceeding with discovery. If you really can't afford an attorney, and you're not able to get alimony pendente lite or other funds to help you with attorneys' fees, you may find someone who will do what's called a "limited representation." It is not the absolute best way to handle a divorce, but it may at least get you through the discovery process so you can make some decisions. Limited representation would involve having someone analyze your financial/discovery situation, and then ghost-write interrogatories and/or requests for production for you to serve on your wife. However, that attorney would not enter a formal appearance on your behalf, nor be responsible for your case beyond preparing the documents and advising you when needed. (Many attorneys will not do something like this as they believe it's analogous to handing someone a scalpel and a map of his appendix, and then having him do his own surgery.)

    If you find someone who is willing to do this for you, or even if you figure out on your own how to prepare interrogatories and other discovery requests to serve on your wife through her counsel, the next question is what you do with the information when it's presented to you. Can you analyze it on your own? At that point, you should have good legal advice again, so you can figure out what kind of settlement would be appropriate in your case. You would also want someone to look over any settlement agreements for you, or represent you in court if it doesn't settle and goes to hearing.

    What puzzles me about the reply that you got from your wife's attorney is that you are absolutely entitled to your wife's financial information -- most likely the exact same type of information they asked of you, so why is her lawyer playing hardball and making you go through formal discovery to get it when he could just as easily send it to you by request? Maybe you two got off on the wrong foot initially, or maybe that's just the way he is. In any event, it doesn't bode well for you to be able to work with this guy, so it's an extra red flag that you should consider hiring counsel.

    If my answer was helpful to you, I would appreciate if you would mark it either "helpful" or "best answer" if you feel that applies, as AVVO gives us rating points based on feedback. Thank you! Please note that the above answer is not to be construed as legal advice. It is my personal opinion based on your question, and it was given without obtaining the detailed information that I would normally request in order to render comprehensive legal advice. I advise you to consult with a local attorney of your choosing to obtain specific legal advice. The fact that I answered your question does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and me.

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