In every contested divorce case, there is a discovery process. It's a stage where the spouses exchange or obtain from third parties all documents relevant to their respective claim(s) concerning division of the marital estate, establishing custody and visitation, and setting support (ie. child support or maintenance). The process can be grueling and exhausting at times. Based upon my experience, it's one of pivotal reasons, why a divorce case can linger for months, and in complicated matters, even for a couple of years. Therefore, it's important to navigate through these waters efficiently and correctly.
In Cook County, Illinois (and many other satellite counties) before a discovery process can be inititated, a party requesting certain discovery must first produce a completed Disclosure Statement, along with preliminary supporting documents to verify their income.
The importance of a well prepared 13.3.1(b) Disclosure Statement can be essential to your case. This is a financial balance sheet listing your income, monthly expenses, and assets; and it is signed under penalties of perjury. It is somewhat similar to a financial statement one submits to a bank for a mortgage approval.
Irrespective of whether a spouse earns $300,000.00 or $30,000.00 per year, the court always considers this document with heavy emphasis when addressing temporary and final financial matters. If the disclosure statement is poorly prepared, it can then lead to impeachment of a party's credibility, and other problems. If done well, it can pave a smoother road in establishing an accurate portrayal of one spouse's financial status.
If undergoing a divorce, take the time to correctly fill out this financial statement with your counsel.
It will be a positive step in completing your case more efficiently if you have contested divorce.
Gregory Gancarczyk is an Illinois licensed attorney concentrating in all aspects of Family Law.
Mr. Gancarczyk, is a principal in his firm, Gan Law Group (www.ganlawgrup.com). In 2013 and 2014, he was named by Super Lawyers Magazine as a Rising Star in the area of Family Law, a designation reserved for the top 2.5% of all Illinois attorneys under 40.
Mr. Gancarczyk can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.