In an Illinois divorce, a trial does not happen right away. Instead, it could take over a year to work through the pre-trial process. The bulk of the time is spent on something called discovery. This is when both parties exchange documents and information.
Three parts of discovery
Discovery actually happens in a number of steps. One part of the process is when you and your lawyer will file a request for documents with the other spouse. They also will be sending you their own request. In addition, they can ask specific questions. In divorce cases, these requests for information can pin you down to certain answers that might be contradicted later. Finally, the most involved part of discovery is depositions. This is when you and your spouse sit down in a room with lawyers and answer questions under oath.
The importance of discovery in your divorce case
Discovery is important because it helps set the stage for the divorce trial. The evidence that each spouse learns may be part of their case in front of the judge. It helps glean and distill evidence for later in the case. Lawyers are looking for inconsistencies between trial testimony and what was learned in discovery. Thus, it is critical to be truthful in discovery when asked a question. Those who are caught in a lie, especially when it comes to disclosing assets, can end up in trouble later in the case.
If your divorce case appears that it cannot be settled early, it will likely involve discovery. This is typically a very technical process that must be done according to strict rules. A family law attorney may represent you throughout the divorce process, including by sending your requests to the other side and conducting depositions. The work that your attorney does during discovery may be crucial to the overall success of your case because it might be your only chance to learn key facts.