What is a Divorce Deposition?
A divorce deposition is a tool used during what is called the discovery process. Discovery is that phase that starts before trial, wherein the parties exchange information between each other. A divorce deposition is basically a meeting between the two parties to a divorce. It has two main purposes, which are:
- To uncover documents and/or information that are relevant to the topics which will be discussed in the divorce case
- To obtain statements that can be used as evidence in trial
Depositions are a necessary part of any divorce proceeding. The information obtained from depositions will form the basis of the analysis in the upcoming trial or hearings. Many important decisions may be based on the information from depositions, such as those related to child custody/support, and property divisions.
Who May be Present at a Divorce Deposition?
Generally speaking, the persons present at a divorce deposition include: the parties (the spouses seeking divorce), their respective lawyers, and a court reporter who will transcribe the question and answer sessions. In some instances, a “guardian ad litem” (expert witness) may be present in order to observe the deposition and later evaluate the testimonies of the parties. A judge is usually not present at divorce depositions.
In addition, any person who might be called as a witness in the trial may be requested to appear at the deposition. They will also be interviewed by the opposing party. Persons who are requested to be at a deposition will usually receive a “Notice of Deposition” which formally requests their presence at the deposition.
At a divorce deposition, the person who is being interviewed (deposed) is called the “deponent”.
What Type of Information is Exchanged during Divorce Depositions?
Each divorce deposition will be different depending on the issues that will be raised in the divorce proceedings. For example, some divorce cases will focus more on property issues, while other may focus more on witness credibility. In general, depositions will touch upon the following types of information:
- General Information: This may include information about the parties, such as their name, contact information, profession, education, and their relationship to the various parties
- Specific Events and Dates: Sometimes the outcome of a divorce case will turn on a specific event, such as an act of infidelity or an authorized transfer of property. Such events will usually be discussed in detail in order to gather facts for the case
- Witness Information: Witnesses will be thoroughly interviewed to obtain their name, identity, profession, and their role in the case. Expert witnesses will be deposed in order to verify their certification and abilities
- Information Previously Reviewed: The deponent may be asked if they whether they have spoken with anyone in preparation for the deposition. They may be asked whether they have previous knowledge of various events, persons, or dates. However, and confidential information should not be disclosed, such as information that is subject to the attorney-client privilege.
- Documents: Deposition is also a time where the parties can request documents from the other party. Documents that were previously exchanged are also frequently discussed during depositions. However, documents should not be brought to the deposition unless they have been specifically requested by the other party through the Notice of Deposition or a Deposition Subpoena.
Some examples of questions that are commonly asked at a divorce deposition include:
- “What is your name, age, and profession?”
- “During marriage, did your partner take care of your children’s needs?”
- “Do you and your partner have any shared accounts, such as a joint bank account or a shared trust?”
Thus, the questions that are posed in a deposition can range from very broad to very specific. While you don’t have to disclose any confidential information, it is best if you answer questions in a manner that is cooperative and forthcoming. You should communicate in a manner that demonstrates your ability express the truth as clearly and accurately as possible.
Do I need a Lawyer for a Divorce Deposition?
If you have filed for divorce, you should work closely with a family lawyer. Your attorney will be able to counsel you and prepare you for depositions and other types of meetings. In addition, your attorney can help you compile all the documents and information that will be used during trial. Divorce laws vary widely by state, so be sure to ask your lawyer if you have questions about the laws of your area.
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Last Modified: 06-17-2011 11:08 AM PDT
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