Florida Rules of Civil Procedure 1.370; Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure 12.370
One can limit the expense of litigation and cost of discovery by effectively using Requests for Admissions.
A party may ask any other party to admit the truth of any matter stated in the written request within the scope of discovery. A party is limited to 30 requests including subparts without approval of the court or the other party. It is important to know, that If the party does not serve a timely response , they are deemed to have been admitted .
The better practice is to timely respond to the request as follows:
(1) Admitting the request; or
(2) Denying the request; or
(3) Giving specific reasons why the request cannot be admitted or denied; or
(4) Stating a proper objection to the request, such as privilege, improper form, relevancy.
Responses must be signed by the attorney or a party if that party is pro se. Requests made under Family Law Rules requires that each request comply with Rule 12.280(a).
An item admitted is conclusively established in the pending action however, a request for a purely legal conclusion is improper. For example, a request that states; Do you admit or deny that you were negligent; is improper. The effect of an admission is similar to that in a pleading. After an admission, no further proof is necessary, and the admission need not be introduced into evidence. The admission is binding upon both parties.
Keep in mind, that If a party does not admit the truth of the matter requested and it is later proven, the requesting party may apply for an order that the answering party pay reasonable expenses, including attorney fees , incurred in making the proof. Again, if the answering party does not file a timely response, the requests are deemed admitted.
Example One :
The following Request was made in a Post Judgment proceeding, where the Former Wife had remarried an extremely wealthy man. The Former Husband was a government employee, without sufficient to funds to carry on the litigation. However, the attorney for the Former Husband had reason to believe that the new Husband had placed his new wife’s name on several banking accounts, all in out of state banking institutions. The Former Wife was evasive when answering the standard interrogatories. So, the attorney for the Former Husband merely used that language in the interrogatory and placed into 6 separate Requests, at $ 500,000 intervals, starting at $500,000.
1. Do you admit or deny , that as of March 1, 2018, that the balance , in all financial accounts ( checking, savings, money markets , credit union accounts or other cash management accounts ) in which you have a legal or equitable interest regardless of whether the interest is or was held in your name individually , in your name with another person or in any other name , exceeds $500,000.
The attorney for the Former Wife had no choice but to admit to all six Requests, which proved she had interests in financial accounts exceeding $3,000,000. With those admissions, the attorney for the Former Husband was then able to set hearings on all his motions involving the issue of ability to pay.
Example Two :
A Father woke up to a text, from the Mother of his 5 year old son , that she and his child, had moved into a an apartment with her new boyfriend in Tallahassee, Fl. His counsel filed an Emergency Motion to Return of Minor Child and a Motion for Contempt . As well, he filed the following Request for Admissions.
1. Do you admit or deny that on March 15, 2019, that you and the minor child moved your principal residence to Leon County, Florida .
2. Do you admit or deny that prior to March 15, 2019, that you and the minor child’s residence was located at 8700 Coral Way Miami, Florida in Miami-Dade County Florida .
3. Do admit or deny that your residence in Leon County, Florida is more than 50 miles from your previous residence in Miami-Dade County, Florida.
4. Do you admit or deny that the Respondent has been declared the Father of your minor child, in the Final Judgment of paternity of February 15, 2018.
5. Do you admit or deny that prior to March 15, 2019, you did not have a written agreement of the Respondent, to change your residence from Miami-Dade County, Florida to Leon County, Florida.
6. Do you admit or deny that prior to March 15, 2019, you did not have permission of the Court to change your residence from Miami -Dade County to Leon County, Florida.
7. Do you admit or deny that three days later, on March 18, 2019 , you sent a text to the Respondent notifying him that you and the minor child had moved to Leon County, Florida.
8. Do you admit or deny that the aforementioned text was the first time that the Respondent was made aware of your change of residence to Leon County, Florida.
9. Do you admit or deny that attached Mediated Settlement Agreement was signed by both parties on February 1, 2018.
10. Do you admit or deny that paragraph 12, of the attached Mediated Settlement Agreement refers to Fla. Statute 61.13001, entitled Parental Relocation with a Child .
11. Do you admit or deny that attached Mediated Settlement Agreement was approved by Court in a Final Judgment of Paternity of February 15, 2018.
12. Do you admit or deny that you and the minor child’s change of residences on March 15, 2019, to Leon County, Florida, violated your Mediated Settlement Agreement of February 1, 2018 which was approved by the court on February 15, 2018.
13. Do you admit or deny that you and your minor child’s change of residence on March 15, 2019 to Leon County Florida, violated Fla. Statute 61.13001.
Although one could argue that Requests 12 and 13 were objectionable, the attorney for the Mother admitted all but Request #8. The matter was settled prior to the hearing on Respondents Emergency Motion to Return Minor Child and Motion for Contempt.
Request for Admissions can be a valuable tool when properly used in your litigation practice.
Credits: Trawicks Florida Practice and Procedure; 2011-2012 Edition Issued in November 2011 by Henry P. Trawick Jr.