In this article, we explain Discovery in Illinois divorce and child custody cases. We will cover things to remember about the discovery process as well as 5 different methods for Discovery: Request for Production, Interrogatories, Request for Admissions, Depositions, and Subpoena Duces Tecum.
Discovery provides a complete understanding of the issues and facts. It occurs after you have filed for divorce or child custody—it is the “investigation” phase, and one of the most significant steps in the divorce or child custody process. It is the exchanging of information.
Many spouses know very little about the entirety of their family’s finances, debts, assets, employment bonuses and wages. Discovery allows opposing parties to request information from one another, as well as additional parties if necessary. It is used to determine the value of assets, income, debts and other aspects of the case. It is evidence, and provides proof when there are contested issues. There are five different methods for Discovery:
Throughout the Discovery process your attorney may utilize one or all of the different methods to get the information necessary to strengthen your case.
Not only will you be seeking Discovery, the opposing party will also be requesting Discovery. Your attorney will request information from you, review the information, and submit the information to the opposing party. By providing your attorney with as much of the relevant information needed you create a better case, and assist your attorney in laying out realistic expectations for your case.
Discovery can be time intensive, and may feel overly invasive, but is critical in negotiating a settlement, or preparing for trial. By preparing for the process you will feel more stable as you move forward through the divorce process.
Shortly after filing a petition or counterclaim for divorce or child custody your attorney will begin the Discovery process. Discovery is the gathering of information from the opposing party. There are five different methods of obtaining information in a divorce or child custody case. This includes:
Only parties to the action can answer interrogatories. However, your attorney can help you by coaching you on using language that is more favorable as long as the answer is truthful and not deceptive. Your attorney may also object to the form of the question if it is burdensome, unfair, or difficult to understand. After answering the interrogatories your attorney may put them in typed form. You will then sign an oath verifying all the answers you provided were true and correct.
In Illinois interrogatories are limited to 30 questions, and the responding party has 28 days to reply.
In the state of Illinois a party has 28 days to provide the requested documents after they have received notice of the request. There is no limit on the number of documents that can be requested.
After receiving the documentation of the other party, based on the review of the documentation, your attorney may request additional documentation or information.
In Illinois admission are limited to 30 unless the parties agree to more. The responding party has 28 days to reply. In Illinois you must provide a Warning which states the following: “WARNING: If you fail to serve the response required by Rule 216 withing 28 days after you are served with this document, all the facts set forth in the requests will be deemed true and all the documents described in the request will be deemed genuine.” This statement needs to be in bold 12 point font, and assists with ensuring admissions are provided in a timely manner.
Statements from depositions can be submitted to the court as admissions for trial, or to contradict testimony of a witness at trial. If a witness is deposed, and fails to appear for trial, the deposition may be used in place of the live testimony.
Depositions can be costly in a divorce. You will pay for the attorney, the court reporter, and the transcript of the deposition.
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