When filing for divorce, it may feel as though you are drowning in paperwork. From tax returns to your child’s doctor bills, a party to a divorce proceeding may be required to submit a large number of documents. These documents are used to gain insight into how the couple or family functions financially. Each party’s counsel will request documents from opposing counsel and work with their own client to obtain necessary documents to provide to the other side. This process is called discovery. If one party does not supply all the documents necessary to the other party, the proceeding can take much longer and be much more costly to both of the parties. It can seem exhausting when asked to compile such a large amount of information, but these documents play a critical role in the outcome of every divorce proceeding.
The exact documents required will depend upon what the opposing counsel requests. Each party sends the other a Request to Produce, a document outlining the financial materials necessary for submission. While each Request to Produce is different depending on the individual circumstances of the parties, overall the documents requested are generally very similar.
When requesting financial documents for the discovery process, attorneys may request documents going back for multiple years. This is done to ensure that both the attorneys and the court can view the average financial status of the parties. For example, perhaps one year a party to the proceeding was laid off and the income they reported on their income taxes was significantly lower than the year prior, or perhaps one party received a promotion and is now earning much more than they did previously. By requesting that parties provide multiple years of financial information the parties and the court can assess more realistic perspective of the financial status of each party.
If our case continues without a settlement for a long period of time or if you are scheduled for trial, you may also be required to update the documents as the proceeding moves forward. Divorce proceedings can unfortunately sometimes be lengthy, especially when the parties are unable to come to agreements. For this reason, parties may be required to supplement their financial documents seasonably to provide for the most current information. An attorney may request you provide updated paycheck stubs or credit card statements to show how money is being spent during the ongoing proceeding. A common request to be updated is each party’s Financial Affidavit. A Financial Affidavit is a standardized form issued statewide in the state of Illinois. Financial Affidavits require an individual to report not only their monthly income, but also their monthly expenses.
A Financial Affidavit is just one of the many documents you may need to provide. Some additional documents commonly requested are listed below.
- Federal & State Income Tax Returns
- Paycheck Stubs
- Bank Statements
- Credit Card Statements
- Mortgage/Loan Agreements
- Social Security, Disability, or Unemployment Compensation Documents
- Pension or 401k Plans
- Tuition or Medical Bills for Children
- Annuity or Life Insurance Policies
- Stock Certificates
- Appraisals of Assets
- Copies of Canceled Checks
It is important to remember that although it may seem daunting to compile these materials, in the end, it is to your benefit to submit everything that has been requested. If documents are not submitted, the other party can file with the court to require submission and, depending on the situation, ask the court to require you to pay attorney’s fees for the time spent pursuing discovery.
Compiling all the necessary documents is just one of the many aspects of a divorce proceeding. It is important that each step is taken with extra care to protect an individual’s interest moving forward.
If you have questions about a divorce case or how your financial status may affect a future proceeding, contact Sherer Law Offices at (618) 692-6656 for more information.
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