Most issues in an Illinois divorce are governed by the 750 ILCS 5, The Illinois Marriage And Dissolution of Marriage Act. The Illinois Marriage And Dissolution of Marriage Act is not the only body of law that governs an Illinois divorce, however.
The Illinois Code of Civil Procedure “applies…In proceedings in which the procedure is regulated by statutes other than those contained in this Act, such other statutes control to the extent to which they regulate procedure but Article II of this Act applies to matters of procedure not regulated by such other statutes.” 735 ILCS 5/1-108
The Illinois Code Of Civil Procedure provides for all sorts of rules and regulations that sometimes apply to an Illinois divorce. But, often the Code of Civil Procedures does not apply (or barely applies) to an Illinois divorce action.
One the Code Of Civil Procedure’s tools is the Bill Of Particulars.
A Bill Of Particulars is “[a] written statement or specification of the particulars of the demand for which an action at law is brought, or of a defendant’s set-off against such demand, (including dates, sums, and items in detail,) furnished by one of the parties to the other, either voluntarily or in compliance with a judge’s order for that purpose.” Black’s Law Dictionary (10th ed. 2014)
In layman’s terms, a Bill Of Particulars is a more detailed pleading. The point of a more detailed pleading is so that the responding party can adequately and accurately answer the pleading.
“The object of a bill of particulars is to supply a deficiency in a pleading…It is where the allegations of a pleading are wanting in details, that the opposite party is entitled to a bill of particulars.” Hemingway v. Skinner Engineering Co., 254 NE 2d 133 – Ill: Appellate Court, 2nd Dist. 1969
Pleadings need to be clear because the respondent is required to answer a pleading.
“Every answer and subsequent pleading shall contain an explicit admission or denial of each allegation of the pleading to which it relates.” 735 ILCS 5/2-610(a)
If a pleading’s allegation is not answered, that allegation will be considered admitted by the Respondent.
“Every allegation, except allegations of damages, not explicitly denied is admitted, unless the party states in his or her pleading that he or she has no knowledge thereof sufficient to form a belief, and attaches an affidavit of the truth of the statement of want of knowledge, or unless the party has had no opportunity to deny.” 735 ILCS 5/2-610(b)
Therefore, it’s imperative that a pleading be specific enough to answer properly without improperly admitting or denying the allegation.
To request a Bill Of Particulars In Illinois, a Respondent may file a Demand For A Bill Of Particulars before the Respondent’s Answer is due.
“Within the time a party is to respond to a pleading, that party may, if allegations are so wanting in details that the responding party should be entitled to a bill of particulars, file and serve a notice demanding it. The notice shall point out specifically the defects complained of or the details desired. The pleader shall have 28 days to file and serve the bill of particulars, and the party who requested the bill shall have 28 days to plead after being served with the bill.” 735 ILCS 5/2-607(a)
Failure to file a Bill of Particulars after a Demand For A Bill of Particulars may cause the petition to be dismissed for being impossible to properly answer.
“If the pleader does not file and serve a bill of particulars within 28 days of the demand, or if the bill of particulars delivered is insufficient, the court may, on motion and in its discretion, strike the pleading, allow further time to furnish the bill of particulars or require a more particular bill to be filed and served.” 735 ILCS 5/2-607(a)
Is the pleading that governs an Illinois divorce, a Petition For Dissolution of Marriage, ever subject to a Demand For A Bill Of Particulars?
An Illinois Petition For Dissolution Of Marriage must contain certain allegations in order to be sufficient in order to obtain a Judgment For Dissolution Of Marriage.
“The complaint or petition for dissolution of marriage or legal separation shall be verified and shall minimally set forth:(1) the age, occupation and residence of each party and his length of residence in this State;(2) the date of the marriage and the place at which it was registered;(2.5) whether a petition for dissolution of marriage is pending in any other county or state;(3) that the jurisdictional requirements of subsection (a) of Section 401 have been met and that irreconcilable differences have caused the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage;(4) the names, ages and addresses of all living children of the marriage and whether a spouse is pregnant;(5) any arrangements as to support, allocation of parental responsibility of the children and maintenance of a spouse; and(6) the relief sought.” 750 ILCS 5/403(a)
It is tough to imagine a Petition For Dissolution Of Marriage where any of the 6 required factors would be so vague as to be sufficiently answerable.
Furthermore, an answer of “neither admit nor deny” to any of these allegations is sufficient until further information is gathered via discovery. Discovery is the collection of information which will allow the respondent to sufficiently answer the pleading with greater specificity on a future date (if necessary)
Therefore, any Demand For A Bill Of Particulars in an Illinois divorce case should be met with a Motion To Deny Bill Of Particulars. Bills of Particulars just aren’t necessary with an Illinois divorce’s broad pleading requirements coupled with the capacity of discovery to properly answer any divorce pleading in due time.
“If the party on whom a demand for a bill of particulars has been made believes that the party demanding it is not entitled to the particulars asked for, he or she may move the court that the demand be denied or modified.” 735 ILCS 5/2-607(c)
Bill Of Particulars And Motions In Illinois
While a Petition For Dissolution Of Marriage may be an inappropriate target for a bill of particulars, other filings which require great specificity may require a more detail from the Respondent.
A motion to terminate maintenance due to cohabitation would numerous factual elements to be included in the body of the motion for the opposing side to properly prepare an answer and subsequent defense to the allegations in the motion.
Bills of particular are for pleadings not motions. 735 ILCS 5/607 only refers to bills of particular in relation to pleadings.
“A pleading…consists of a party’s formal allegations of his claims or defenses.” In re Marriage of Wolff, 355 Ill. App. 3d 403, 407 (Ill. App. Ct. 2005)
A pleading is a “cause of action, counterclaim, defense, or reply.” 735 ILCS 5/2-603
“As used in this Section, “pleadings” includes any petition or motion filed in the dissolution of marriage case which, if independently filed, would constitute a separate cause of action, including, but not limited to, actions for declaratory judgment, injunctive relief, and orders of protection.” 750 ILCS 5/105(d)
Most motions will not qualify as a pleading and, therefore, are not subject to a bill of particulars.
The better defense to a motion which needs adequate factual detail is discovery. The discovery will show you what they will prove. If the vague motion-filer is being coy with discovery, depose them or file a motion in limine to keep any undisclosed evidence out of their hearing.
If the vague motion-filer does not have sufficient facts to base their motion upon, they will be subject to sanctions. “The signature of an attorney or party constitutes a certificate by him that he has read the pleading, motion or other document; that to the best of his knowledge, information, and belief formed after reasonable inquiry it is well grounded in fact” Ill. Sup. Ct. R. 137.
If you are filing a Demand For A Bill Of Particulars in your Illinois divorce, you are doing something wrong. If your opponent has filed a Demand For A Bill Of Particulars…there is something wrong with their understanding of Illinois divorce law. But, you will still have to answer their wrongheaded Demand For A Bill Of Particulars within the 28 days the statute allows.
If you need to answer a Demand For A Bill of Particulars in your Illinois divorce, contact an experienced Chicago divorce attorney to properly eliminate this pointless filing.