People often remark that “knowledge is power,” and that saying is especially true in lawsuits. One of the most important part of any lawsuit is the discovery process. Discovery is the mechanism that allows attorneys on one side of a case to get information that the other side has that could be relevant to the issues in the case.
Discovery in divorce is somewhat unique because of the relationship between the parties. In most lawsuits, discovery takes place between strangers or people with a business relationship, so they have access to very different pools of information. That is not as true in divorce, where the legal proceeding is taking place between two spouses. Yet, there are still important benefits to divorce discovery.
The Purpose of Divorce Discovery
One of the major reasons to perform divorce discovery is for financial information. Although spouses share finances, many couples place the responsibility to caring for the marital accounting on one member of the couple. Alternatively, some couples simply do not take good care of their finances, so no one has a clear picture of all the marital property. In these instances, the spouses can request information that the other has so that both sides can build a clear picture of the property that needs to be divided.
A related use for discovery is to request information from third parties, such as banks or a spouse's employer. For instance, there may be concerns that a spouse is not being truthful about the amount of money that they are earning or the amount of debt that they are carrying. In those instances, discovery has special tools that may allow people to seek information from other people who can corroborate or disprove a spouse's assertions.
There are a wide range of discovery tools available, some used commonly and others less so. Some of the most common discovery tools are requests for production, interrogatories, and depositions. Requests for production are special requests from one side to another to hand over tangible things, usually, records. For instance, if only one side has access to tax returns from prior years, the other side could request copies of them. Interrogatories are a list of written questions sent from one side to the other that the other side must answer. Depositions are similar in that the other side's lawyers can ask questions of the spouses, but they are conducted through live interviews. Depositions' live nature allows lawyers to ask follow up questions and drill down on contentious or important issues.
Conducting a thorough and complete discovery can be one of the most important parts of a divorce case. If you have questions about this or other parts of the process, contact a skilled Naperville divorce attorney today to learn more.