There are two main purposes for obtaining a divorce. The first purpose is to dissolve the marriage, and the second purpose is to distribute marital property. Many divorcing parties are aware of all of the marital assets, however, there are also many parties that choose to keep their assets separate throughout their marriage, and they are thus not aware of all of the marital assets. The courts in Illinois require the parties to be made fully aware of each other’s assets prior to entering into a divorce agreement, and the process that the parties use to obtain this information is called “discovery”.
Some divorces have minimal, voluntary discovery, where both parties submit current account statements, form 13.3.1 disclosure statements and other documentation showing what their assets are, on a voluntary basis. Other parties do not want to disclose their assets unless their hand is forced, and for those types of cases we issue formal discovery. The most common discovery that is issued is a request for documents as well as a request for answers to interrogatories. The documents requested are typically financial account statements, retirement statements, credit card bills, mortgage statements and any other financial documents that show what each party has. The interrogatories are typically questions regarding what assets the parties have. Once served, the responding party has twenty-eight (28) days to respond.
Once the parties turn over their documents to each other, the attorneys and parties review the other parties’ statements and documents to make sure that all assets are accounted for. Sometimes it will appear that an account hasn’t been disclosed and those statements will be requested. Other times the parties may need to update their account statements, if the litigation is continuing. Discovery is a very useful process when used correctly. However, it can also be an expensive process if the parties are non-compliant, or, if there are many accounts that have to be reviewed. Overall, discovery is an important process that all divorcing parties need to go through at some level in order to be certain that the divorce agreement they are entering in to is not unconscionable, whether it is turning over a 13.3.1 disclosure and pay stubs, or turning over years of bank account statements. Our attorneys are seasoned in discovery collection and issuance, and if you are uncertain about your and your spouses’ assets and are going through a divorce, call our attorneys to set up a consultation.