What to Expect In A Divorce Deposition
A deposition is part of the larger process known as discovery, which requires parties to disclose all the information they have concerning the issues related to the divorce to encourage settlement. This information includes financial documents like tax returns, pay stubs, and bank records, and your answers to written questions known as “interrogatories”. The deposition typically occurs when most (if not all) of this information has been disclosed.
The deposition is a sworn statement, taken in the office of an attorney and before a court reporter who transcribes everything that is said. Your spouse’s lawyer will ask you questions, and you will be required to answer them. While your attorney may object to questions asked during the deposition, very few questions can be objected to.
It is important to note that depositions are not taken in every case, as they may not be necessary for a favorable resolution. They can also be quite costly depending on the nuances of your case. You and your lawyer will discuss whether it’s necessary to take your spouse’s deposition, as the value of the deposition may or may not outweigh its cost.
Depositions may also not be necessary depending on your case. If custody is not contested, and if the core issue is not identifying and characterizing your respective and joint assets/debt, you may be able to proceed without any depositions.
Lawyers – including yours – take depositions to help them root out information that can encourage settlement, as well as develop a strategy for your case. Additionally, depositions help your attorneys (or your spouse’s attorneys) test how you or your spouse function under pressure from questioning. They can probe the truth and accuracy of statements and assess whether an individual will make a good witness.
Taking the deposition of your spouse also functions to help your attorney develop and prepare cross-examinations of your spouse. Depositions also give your attorney the opportunity to lock in your spouse’s testimony. This way, your spouse may be impeached if their testimony changes during questioning.
Before your deposition, your attorney will meet with you to go over deposition rules and discuss the questions you can anticipate. Don’t be surprised if your lawyer also asks you questions that may be raised by your spouse’s lawyer. Your attorney is likely testing to see how you react and perform under stress.
Your spouse’s lawyer will likely begin by using a friendly, conversational tone. This is because the object of the deposition is to obtain information. This can be a tactic to encourage you to relax and let your guard down. Remember, however, a deposition is not a conversation, and your spouse’s lawyer is not your friend. They’re looking for information to help your spouse’s case. It is advisable to guard your emotions and answer all questions as straightforwardly as possible. This is true even if the lawyer becomes aggressive or asks more difficult questions.
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