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When Are Subpoenas Necessary in an Illinois Divorce?

 Posted on October 26, 2020 in Divorce

Palatine divorce attorney asset division

Divorces can be difficult, even under the best of circumstances, such as when both spouses come to the mutual decision to part ways. Dividing up property and assets may have its challenges, and in some cases, subpoenas might be necessary during the discovery phase of your divorce. This part of the process involves full financial disclosure by each spouse of all marital and non-marital assets and the income you both earn. If you believe your spouse is not being completely honest, an attorney can use various methods to uncover the truth. According to Illinois law, attorneys are allowed to issue subpoenas, which are basically formal requests from attorneys. The recipients of these legal documents must comply with them by law. The term subpoena means “under penalty.” Subpoenas can play crucial roles in ensuring both spouses receive their fair share of the marital estate.

Discovery Phase

In order to initiate a divorce in Illinois, one spouse must file a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. The receiving spouse (respondent) is required to file a response to the petition. Both parties need to make sure their divorce papers are filed with the court and properly served or delivered to the other spouse. Next, either side can serve discovery requests and the court can issue orders regarding the disclosure of pertinent information and documents.

This exchange of information in the “discovery phase” may include obtaining the following:

  • Documents showing the location, value, and ownership of the couples’ property (homes, vehicles, investments, and business assets)
  • Documents that contain the location, value, and ownership of any separate property
  • Documents proving either spouse’s income and employment (tax returns, employment contracts, W-2s, retirement accounts)
  • Expert witness reports that could affect child custody arrangements, business valuations, or vocational evaluations
  • Emails and other evidence regarding any other issues in the divorce (dissipation of marital assets, child custody arrangements that are in the best interest of the child)

Two Types of Subpoenas

In Illinois divorces, two different subpoenas may be utilized. A subpoena ad testificandum is a request for an individual to appear to testify in court. In many cases, this type of subpoena is issued if someone possesses pertinent knowledge about the case but is not disclosing it. A subpoena duces tecum directs designated parties to bring specific documents with them to their court appearance.

Although many divorces are somewhat amicable, certain situations may warrant issuing a subpoena if one spouse is not cooperating, such as in the below instances:

  • One party has failed to produce the requested information during the discovery process.
  • One spouse cannot access financial records if the other spouse had control over them during the marriage.
  • One party believes that the other spouse is hiding assets.
  • One spouse provided insufficient information.

Contact a Mt. Prospect Divorce Lawyer

Although you may not think it applies to your case, you may be surprised to learn the benefits of a subpoena in your Illinois divorce proceedings. If you and your spouse are struggling to resolve issues, or you suspect he or she is hiding assets, a knowledgeable Hoffman Estates divorce attorney can help. Attorney Nicholas W. Richardson has handled all types of divorce cases and understands the challenges that can be involved in dissolving your marriage. Call our office today at 847.873.6741 to schedule a free consultation.


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