After the initial petition for a divorce has been filed, information needs to be exchanged between the parties. This is to ensure that one party is not being cheated. To make sure that the requests made by each party are as reasonable as possible, discovery needs to take place.
Discovery during divorce proceedings can be likened to an investigation. It is usually initiated by the attorneys of each party and can help provide clarity for the parties. Before the divorce is finalized, important issues such as asset distribution and child support need to be settled. If there is any conflict preventing these issues from being settled, discovery helps the attorneys gather evidence to strengthen their case.
How Is the Discovery Process Carried Out?
Your attorney can make use of various methods to request information from the other attorney. However, here are the steps commonly involved in the process of discovery:
1. Formal Disclosure
In Illinois, it is compulsory that there is full financial disclosure between spouses before a divorce can be finalized. Copies of documents such as account records and insurance policies need to be exchanged between spouses. This helps your attorney build a strong case.
These involve open-ended written questions that must be responded to in writing. They are limited to 30 questions and must be responded to within 28 days according to Illinois laws. These questions usually relate to your spouse’s financial or work history.
Subpoenas are mostly used in highly complicated divorce proceedings to gather information from an unwilling spouse. The type of subpoena used is usually subpoena duces tecum which translates to “to bring with you”.
A deposition is a sworn statement or testimony to questions asked by an attorney. It is then transcribed by the court reporter and taken as a fact.
5. Requests for Admission and Production
A request for admission requires a party to admit or deny a fact while under oath while a request for production requires specific documents from the other party.
How Do I Protect My Sensitive Information During Discovery?
In Illinois, the court may grant a protective order during the discovery process to prevent embarrassment, injustice, or oppression. This order can be requested in relation to information considered trade secrets or just any information you do not want anyone other than your spouse to see.
Illinois laws also ensure that your financial information does not become public information. Also, in certain cases after your divorce, you can request that your file be sealed.
Having an experienced attorney can make discovery smooth for you. But you also have to ensure that your documents and information are in order. Requests and interrogatories have a time limit attached to them. And if you are unable to provide the required answers and information, it makes your attorney’s job a lot more difficult.
At Hecht Schondorf, we have highly skilled family attorneys who will treat your case with expertise and privacy. We offer a free consultation for first-timers. Click here to get started today.