During a divorce, it is easy to become overwhelmed by the sheer amount of paperwork and legal requirements that must be managed and met. Few procedures are more likely to provoke this reaction than discovery, simply because the scope of discovery is often very broad. Still, it is not a process most non-attorneys are familiar with, and sometimes, mistakes are made that can drag the experience out even longer.
Information Must Be Divulged
Perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind during the divorce process is that the information requested absolutely must be provided with very few exceptions. Unless such information falls under a privilege such as the one that exists between an attorney and their client or it is confidential or would be too great a hardship to provide (for example, twenty-year old records of a family trip or other joint endeavor), it must be disclosed.
While each divorce is different, it is possible to make reasonable assumptions regarding what will be relevant in your own case. For example, common items sought during discovery include automobile and real estate titles, documents relating to each spouse’s non-marital assets, tax returns, and any relevant social media or personal communications, especially if one spouse is suspected of hiding or dissipating marital assets. If you and your spouse have children, you may need reports from childcare workers or any mental health professionals that see them.
Types of Discovery
The methods by which information may be provided by you or to you are fairly numerous, but some are more common than others. Different attorneys tend to prefer one method or another, but any method is viable as long as the relevant deadlines for the discovery process are met. The most commonly used methods are:
- Written interrogatories, which are questions on paper that must be completed and returned, usually within 28 days;
- Requests to produce or authenticate documents, in which documents can be asked for. If the documents are already in your possession, you can request the other side to confirm their authenticity; and
- Depositions, which are sworn statements given by any interested party.
Subpoenas duces tecum may be used as well, but they are typically reserved for when asset hiding or dissipation is suspected.
Depositions are generally among the most effective methods of discovery. There are two types of depositions in Illinois law: discovery and evidentiary. The latter usually will replace trial testimony, especially of expert witnesses like psychologists or accountants, and must be taken strictly according to the Illinois Rules of Evidence. Discovery depositions are more informal, generally intended as a sort of assessment of the person’s current status.
Need Help Understanding Discovery?
Because so much information is being exchanged, discovery during a divorce can be an overwhelming process. Having an experienced attorney on your side can be the difference between having the information you need and going into the divorce unprepared. Our Kane County divorce lawyers can help you get through the process with much less confusion and worry. Call us today to set up a free consultation.