In a divorce or custody case, Requests for Production of Documents is a commonly used discovery tool.
Requests for Production of Documents is provided for by the rules of civil procedure in both Illinois and Iowa, and allows for a party to make the other party produce documents that are relevant to the case. Commonly requested documents include financial documents (tax returns, paystubs, bank statements, retirement account statements), child-related documents, social media posts, text messages, emails, etc.
Different documents serve different purposes in a divorce or custody case. Some documents are useful to show what is the child’s best interests in terms of custody and physical care. Other documents can help a party prove what financial resolution to the case is proper. Still other documents may be used to show that the other party has been untruthful during the case. Each case is unique, so the right documents to request in each case will vary. A large part of an attorney’s role in a divorce or custody case is determining what evidence to obtain so as to prepare the case.
The definition of “relevant” is rather broad under the discovery rules in Iowa or Illinois. Thus, it is often possible to use Requests for Production of Documents to obtain documents that a person who is not familiar with the legal system might think are not something that would need to be disclosed. At the same time, it is also possible to object to Requests for Production of Documents that are overly broad or otherwise improper. Handling such objections properly is important, as failing to object in a timely fashion can prevent a person from being able to object, and improperly objecting can subject a person to a Motion to Compel (along with the sanctions that can accompany such a Motion).
Handling Discovery properly in a divorce or case case can be the difference between a favorable outcome and an unfavorable outcome. Requests for Production of Documents is one of the many discovery tools that should be used in a comprehensive fashion to obtain the information that is needed to prevail in court or obtain the most favorable agreed settlement possible. As such, a person who is involved in such a case is well advised to work with their attorney to properly handle discovery.