My wife acted as her own attorney (pro se) for a couple months this past summer and learned how to file subpoenas.
She showed up at a hearing with all my financial statements from my personal checking account, which she got by filing subpoenas by herself without alerting my attorney.
Are there charges I can file against her to get her to stop requesting subpoenas? Don't I have to be notified when a subpoena is filed?
It is important to note that both parties are entitled to review relevant financial information, including bank statements.
In a divorce or other domestic relations case, either party is entitled to review certain documents during the discovery process. For example, either party can obtain credit card statements, receipts, bank statements, canceled checks, and other documents regarding the other parties’ finances, by request to the other party or through subpoena.
In Illinois where I practice, subpoenas are issued either by an attorney or the clerk of the court. An examination of the subpoena will show how the subpoena was issued. Our experience is that, generally, a bank will notify the account holder when a subpoena is issued on an account. As you were unaware of the bank disclosing the records, an inquiry to the bank as to what transpired may be warranted.
While either party may use subpoenas to obtain relevant financial information, subpoenas must be filed with the court. The Illinois Supreme Court Rules require any document filed with the court, including subpoenas, to be served on all parties to the case.
When one party fails to serve a copy of a document filed with the court on the opposing party, the opposing party may obtain a copy of the document from the clerk and the court may order the offending party to reimburse the aggrieved party for the cost of obtaining the copy of the documents.
If this is an ongoing matter, and there is a written order in your case stating that your wife was ordered by the court to contact your attorney before using subpoenas, failure to comply with a court order may be sanctioned as contempt of court. Your attorney can review the court file and advise you as to whether there is a basis for the court to sanction your wife.
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Erin Brockhoff is an Associate Attorney in the Belleville, IL office of Cordell & Cordell where she practices domestic relations exclusively. Ms. Brockhoff is licensed in the state of Illinois, and the Southern and Northern Districts of Illinois. Ms. Brockhoff received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and Psychology, magna cum laude, from Miami University. She received her Juris Doctor from the Chicago-Kent College of Law, where she was a member of the Moot Court Honor Society.