As a Chicago divorce lawyer, I find many people who want to get a divorce in Illinois are confused about handling financial matters. While people generally think they will split some property when they get divorce, financial discovery in divorce is more often a foreign concept. It can lead to some confusion.
Put simply, financial discovery is the process by which each spouse ascertains the financial assets of the other spouse, and the marriage as a whole. Basically, it’s gathering financial evidence. I wrote this FAQ on financial discovery in Illinois divorce to help people understand what will be necessary during a divorce.
Why is financial discovery necessary?
Financial discovery is necessary because – and here is as shocker – often spouses want to hide money from the other spouse when they are getting divorced. For example, maybe there are secret financial accounts, piles of cash, or businesses that need to be divided upon divorce.
Basically, before spouses can split property, they need to know what is there.
What are the types of financial discovery?
There are various types of financial discovery.
- Financial affidavits: Many counties require financial affidavits be during a divorce (unless spouses agree on spousal support, child support, and so forth). In Cook County, Rule 13.3.1 of the Rules of the Circuit Court of Cook County describes when a financial affidavit is required. In a financial affidavit, parties describe their income, expenses and assets under the penalty of perjury. For a copy of the financial affidavit, click here.
- Requests to produce: One spouse can request that the other produce certain documents. For example, bank statements, bookkeeping records from a business, and so forth.
- Written interrogatories: Interrogatories are written questions about financial assets. Illinois has standard martial interrogatories that are used in divorce in Illinois. See Illinois Standard Matrimonial Interrogatories.
- Requests to admit: One spouse can ask the other to admit certain facts. If the facts are not admitted or denied, they are taken as true. Therefore, if one spouse asserts in a request to admit that the other has $2 million in cash, and the accused cash hoarder does not deny it, the judge will assume that person indeed has the $2 million in cash.
What if spouses don’t want to do financial discovery?
Why wouldn’t people want to do financial discovery? First, it is expensive. For example, lawyers have to charge for financial discovery activities. Further, particularly when businesses or retirement assets are involved, financial consultants need to be hired to evaluate the value of the assets.
If my client says the both spouses want to waive financial discovery, I have them include a waiver of financial discovery in their marital settlement agreement (referred to as an “MSA”)
What to do if you have questions about financial aspects of divorce in Illinois.
If you are concerned about financial discovery, you might want to contact an Illinois family law attorney, such as myself. You need to understand what you might be required to do, and what might happen to your assets upon divorce. Contact me, Chicago divorce lawyer David Wolkowitz – I might be able to help.