In divorce cases in Illinois, the two most popular methods of discovery include Interrogatories and a Notice to Produce Documents. Under Illinois Supreme Court Rule 213, your opposing attorney can send you certain questions that you must respond to within 28 days, called “Interrogatories”. These questions typically revolve around your financial circumstances over the last 3-5 years; however, if custody or visitation is an issue in your case, you may receive interrogatories tailored to that issue instead. The purpose of “discovery” is to “discover” information that may be helpful to your case should you proceed to trial.
The second popular method of discovery is a request to produce documents, or a “Notice to Produce”. This document requests that you produce financial records back to a certain date. Usually the date is 3-5 years back, but it depends upon the circumstances of your case. The records include bank statements, tax returns, credit card statements, mortgage statements, documents relating to the purchase or sale of large property or real property, and more. These documents allow you to see what assets and liabilities your spouse has.
Parties may choose to waive formal discovery to save costs. However, it is very important that you are fully apprised of all of your spouse’s assets and liabilities prior to entering into a Judgment for Dissolution of Marriage. Some parties choose to fill out and exchange 13.3.1 disclosure forms; others will voluntarily exchange financial information in an informal setting and consult with their respective counsel regarding their findings. These are great ways to try and save attorney’s fees and costs, particularly if you plan to proceed in an uncontested cause. However, if you plan to proceed as a contested divorce, you will have to complete the discovery process.