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What is a Bill of Particulars in Illinois Divorce and Child Custody Cases?

Article written by Illinois & Iowa Attorney Kevin O'Flaherty
Updated on
October 28, 2019

In this article we answer the question, “what is a bill of particulars in Illinois divorce and child custody cases?”  In divorce and child custody cases, it is not unusual for one party to make general and vague allegations against the other. Illinois law allows the respondent to request a bill of particulars from the party making the allegations. The bill of particulars is a written document in which a party has to explain the allegations in his/her complaint, or petition, in more detail. We explain how to respond to vague allegations in a petition for divorce or child custody, how to request a bill of particulars and how to prepare a bill of particulars.

How to respond to vague allegations in a petition for divorce or child custody

A bill of particulars is a tool that the respondent can use to figure out exactly what the other party is claiming happened.  If there is a complaint filed by one party and a counter-complaint filed by the other party, both parties may request a bill of particulars against each other. This bill provides more detail and allows for each party to better prepare their defense for depositions or trial.

Upon receipt  of a bill of particulars, the receiving party will have 28 days to complete and return.  In turn, the party who requested the bill shall have 28 days to file aresponsive pleading after being served with the bill.

If the bill of particulars is not received within 28 days of the demand, or if the bill of particulars delivered is insufficient, then the other party may be able to file a motion to dismiss the claim. It will be up to the court then to either strike the pleading, allow further time to furnish the bill of particulars or require a more particular bill to be filed and served.

How to request a bill of particulars in Illinois divorce and child custody cases

You can request that the other side provide a bill of particulars by sending a written “demand for a bill of particulars.” In your demand for a bill of particulars, you will ask the other side to provide more details with respect to their allegations. Make sure you point out the specific allegation that you want the other side to expand on and make sure he or she knows what other information or explanation you need. If you are not specific enough when you request a bill of particulars, the other party might not respond and will instead object to your request.

How to prepare a bill of particulars

When you receive a request for a bill of particulars, take time to read it over very carefully and then read your complaint. Think about what it is you need to provide the judge to support your allegations. In the bill of particulars that you write up, you need to  provide specific details explaining the allegations you have made. It is especially helpful if you can include any dates and times.

The bill of particulars should be as broad and complete as possible in order to be able to prove your case. The failure to allege some important fact may prevent you from proving the facts needed to meet the burden of proof. Make sure you are truthful and accurate in your bill of particulars because any inconsistencies between what you include in the bill and testimony that you give in a deposition or trial can be used to damage your credibility and your case. If there are certain incidents that happened for which you cannot recall details and others where you can vividly remember details, you may decide to only include the ones to which you know that you can testify.

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