Discovery Issues in Divorce

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Discovery Issues in a Chicago Divorce

When you go through a divorce, everything has to be put on the table to ensure a settlement that is fair to both parties. The legal means to get everything out in the open for lawyers and the court to look at is called discovery. It’s an exchange of information between the spouses and their attorneys. It’s not uncommon for detailed financial documents to be one of the leading discovery issues in divorce.

A divorce lawyer steeped in practical financial knowledge and real-world legal experience is there to fight for you in your settlement. Call Arami Law at (312) 584-6355 or contact us online to set up a consultation.

How Discovery Works in a Chicagoland Divorce

The division of assets in a Chicagoland divorce is governed by Illinois’ principle of equitable distribution. This does not require that assets be split 50/50, straight down the middle. But the law does call for equity, and a settlement can only be equitable if the full financial picture is known.

Financial affidavits are the basic building block of discovery in a divorce. Each person will disclose what assets they have. The person who has a 401(k) at work needs to disclose what’s currently in that account. The spouse that inherited a vacation house in Wisconsin or a retirement home in Arizona needs to list that on their affidavit.

An affidavit is given under penalty of perjury. In the state of Illinois, a perjury conviction can get someone up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000. It’s important for spouses to be thorough and candid.

Sometimes thoroughness and candor are not always achieved. Other times they are, but the financial issues are complex enough for there to still be heated disputes. 

Here’s just a sampling of the controversies that can arise:

  • One of the spouses owns a business and the value of that business is the source of considerable tension in the property settlement discussion. The non-owning spouse believes the value of the enterprise will increase greatly in the years ahead. The non-owning spouse further believes this deserves consideration, in light of the time and money poured into the business when the couple was still married. Getting all relevant financial documents may prove important to helping expert witnesses determine the true value of the company.
  • One of the spouses is suspicious of their soon-to-be ex. They know the other spouse opened up a P.O. Box recently and want to know why. With high-asset couples, one of the tactics that might be used to “hide” income from the other spouse, would be the establishment of new bank accounts or investment portfolios abroad. Discovery is aimed at flushing that out.
  • Financial discovery and child custody are two distinct parts of a divorce settlement. But if financial discovery reveals that one of the parties took out a separate credit card and ran up lavish expenses, it doesn’t bode well for that spouse when it comes time to settle who takes care of the kids.

These examples are just a drop in the bucket of what can be revealed. Financial discovery involves the review of everything from property deeds, employment records, 401(k) accounts, stock portfolios, insurance policies, W-2 and 1099 forms, business invoices, valuation documents, and more.

To get the equitable settlement you deserve, it’s imperative to have a divorce attorney who understands both the law and the complexities of finance. Before Arami Law’s founder, Kourosh Arami, Esq., became a lawyer, he obtained a degree in economics from Northwestern and an MBA from Loyola University. Attorney Arami understands finance. He knows how to analyze documents and–just as important–he knows what questions have to be asked. He can help you with the common discovery issues that arise in a divorce.

Call Arami Law today at (312) 584-6355 or contact us online to set up a consultation.

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