When most people think about filing for divorce they worry about having to testify in court. Most cases settle long before anyone ever needs to take the witness stand and testify before the judge. However, most people will have to endure the discovery process. This is the legal process by which both sides gather evidence and build their case.
What is Discovery?
Discovery is a period of time during the divorce case when both sides are allowed to use various legal tools to gather information. The most common discovery tools in Illinois are:
- Document request;
- Written interrogatories;
- Request to admit facts; and
- Subpoena duces teacum.
Each of these tools works differently. Depositions are given under oath. The lawyer for the other side questions one side. Depositions are usually given in a lawyer’s office. Document requests are when one side asks for specific documents such as bank statements, deeds, or anything else that is relevant to the divorce.
Written interrogatories are written questions that the other side answers under oath. A request to admit facts is also a written request, answered under oath where one side admits or denies certain facts. A subpoena duces teacum is a request to a third party to turn over certain documents. This could be issued to a bank, hospital, or any other entity that may have relevant documents.
Why Does Discovery Matter?
Discovery is important because it helps narrow the issues that are in dispute. If one side admits a fact in discovery, that fact does not need to be argued. Discovery is useful to pin the other side down to a single story. If someone changes his or her story at trial from what was said or admitted in discovery, the earlier admission can be used to show dishonesty or faulty memory.
Discovery also matters because Illinois courts have held that if discovery is not conducted, and one side hides assets, then the other side cannot get a modification or a property order later once the deceit has been realized. Sometimes discovery is the only way to uncover accurate information.
Can Discovery be Abused?
The discovery process is not perfect. Once side can make unreasonable demands, or may try and run up the legal bill by making unnecessary requests. However, there are ways to stop abusive discovery requests.
Are you thinking about filing for divorce? You need the advice of knowledgeable DuPage County divorce attorney. Please call Sullivan Taylor, Gumina & Palmer, P.C. today at 630-665-7676 to schedule your consultation.