Character referance papers?

Just recieved papers in the mail. My ex is fighting for custody of our children and I answered a set of papers previously about what he was fighting for and to verify dates and times of his lawsuit against me. I figured I would be getting a trial date but I instead recieved a rather lenghthy set of papers asking all sorts of questions about me. My private business, my finances, if I drank or used drugs…all sorts of ridiculous things. It was sent to me by his lawyer and I’m wondering what my rights are? Am I forced to give every little detail about my personal life to his lawyer? Shouldn’t this type of thing be court ordered? And if he wants all this information don’t I have the right to have my ex answer the same questions to me?
Alot of these questions don’t seem relevent to what he is trying to accomplish. Just seems like his lawyer is bombing me with paperwork and if I don’t respond, he will use it against me in court. I’m really not worried about answering the questions but some of the stuff seems like I have a right to privacy. Is this type of thing normal in a custody trial?
I have been away from him with our kids for almost 2 years and we have followed everything in our separation agreement the best we could. He was the one that origionally set up our separation agreement which has visitation that we both agreed to. The only thing that is a factor is the fact that I moved an hour away and he lost one 2 overnights every other weekend.
Now I am remarried and things here seem just great. But now I have no idea what this custody thing is all about and even why he would do this now???

It sounds like what you received is a type of discovery called “request for admissions” or “interrogatories”. You must answer the documents within 30 days of receipt, and may object to any information that is privileged by law (attorney/client or doctor/patient), or irrelevant. The types of questions you reference are indeed relevant to a determination of custody.

You have the right to serve your ex with similar discovery and should do so. I strongly advise you to meet with a lawyer in order that you may properly respond to the lawsuit and the discovery.

Isn’t this the type of thing trial is for? In North Carolina aren’t we ordered to go to mediation before trial to see if trial is even neccesary? I really feel he’s openning a can of worms here. Waste of time and money (which I don’t really have). I strongly feel there are more things that will hurt him by going to trial than would me. They have been in my custody since we separated and he has not experienced having the children on a full time basis only cause he has turned down extra time with them in the past. He has the finances to fight and I feel he believes I can’t get an attorney and because of that, he will win anything he wants.
Is there the posibility that he might drop it if I call his bluff by getting an attorney? Or is it too far along to stop?

Discovery is permitted as soon as suit is filed. It is intended to help prepare the case for trial/mediation. I don’t know if your husband will dismiss the suit if you hire a lawyer, though suit can be dismissed prior to a counterclaim being filed.