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Attorneys Discuss Discovery in Divorce in Chicago


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Every marriage began at some point with two people ready, willing, and able to commit to each other for a lifetime. They were both friends and lovers who charted out their future together. Yet, in the course of building for what is ahead, one spouse or the other may have experienced dissatisfaction, unhappiness, or even infidelity, leading them to make the difficult decision to end their marriage.

Given the nature of divorce proceedings, on top of the added emotional toll, this significant disruption is sure to impact the financial future of both parties and more. With over 30 years of experience, the Chicago divorce attorneys at Nottage and Ward, LLP are here to help you uncover any financial details and other important evidence that will impact what you walk away with in this chapter of your life.

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What Is "Discovery"?

The goal of the discovery process is to identify and define income, assets and liabilities of the parties, as well as any information that may be relevant to determining allocation of parenting time and decision-making. In other words, it is an exchange of information designed to identify income, assets, debts, and information regarding the children.

Discovery can be done formally or informally, depending on the level of contentiousness between the parties or the tone of the divorce process. In informal discovery processes, a simple email request may be followed with handing over relevant information. In more complex or heated situations, however, the formal process may be wise and/or necessary. These may include any one or all of the following:

  • Document Production – Requesting all necessary and relevant documentation from the opposing party, supporting a position on the divorce, financial or economic status, and more.
  • Interrogatories – Sending written questions to the opposing party with a deadline to respond (usually 28 days.)
  • Depositions – Delivering statements under oath in real-time question-and-answer environments, recorded in detail by a court reporter and attended by all divorce attorneys.
  • Subpoenas – Directing document requests to outside institutions with relevant knowledge or information, such as a bank for account records.
  • E-discovery – Gaining information on the parties’ digital life, including computer information, social media information, cellphone information, and possibly more.

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How a Spouse Can Hide Assets in a Divorce

When you are going through a divorce with a bitter spouse, you might be dealing with a soon-to-be former partner who will try to evade the rules when it comes to the division of marital assets. If he or she saw the divorce coming, then the other spouse might have already started preparing for it by researching tactics and trying to hide as much of what should be disclosed as they could. This may include and might not be limited to:

  • Deceptive tax returns and other financial documents
  • Child custodial accounts containing transferred marital funds
  • Complex investment accounts with income not immediately transparent
  • Retirement accounts hidden from the marriage
  • Other sources of cash arranged with family, friends, and business partners
  • Collectibles, antiques, and other memorabilia

A spouse hiding assets in a divorce can be very costly to you if they are not uncovered. Not bringing to light secretive assets affects you in that you will be getting less than what you are entitled to in your Illinois divorce. This is why a thorough discovery process is so vital in your divorce proceedings. Our Chicago divorce attorneys at Nottage and Ward, LLP will do the work expose relevant evidence, moving toward the desired result of what is fair to you as your marriage comes to end.

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Can Social Media Posts Affect Your Divorce?

In this digital age, you need to know how to handle social media during a divorce. Anything you say or do on these online platforms can introduce a whole new layer of evidence during the discovery process, and it may negatively impact you if you are not careful. You will need to talk with a Chicago family law attorney to get a more complete picture of what might be at stake after a post about your divorce, but this may include:

Text messages, email, Facebook Messenger chats, and other digital correspondence may be subpoenaed and investigated. It is best to keep sensitive information private. For example, if you are claiming financial hardship, posting photographs about your tropic vacation may disprove your hardship claim. Inconsistencies between divorce-related information you provide in court in court and what you casually share online will not be favorable to you.

Essentially, much like the rule about not putting anything out in public that you would not like your mom to see, keep in mind that such information may also persuade the judge against you on issues pertaining to your divorce. Also, be mindful that erasing information once a divorce has begun may backfire as well as it could be seen as evidence-tampering and may, ultimately, be recovered anyway. Both your and your spouse’s digital activity can be tracked.

The path to resolution of a divorce case is complex and not one you should travel alone. Depending on the financials and other related matters you will have to sort through, even new information you might learn, the Chicago divorce attorneys at Nottage and Ward, LLP have the experience and skill to help you navigate the discovery process. Call us at (312) 332-2915 and gain the benefit of our decades of experience.

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