A divorce deposition is a formal court process used in discovery. The discovery process is the exchange of financial and asset information between spouses. This process can be informal in some uncontested divorces, or it can be a formal, court-ordered process in uncontested and contested divorces. Regardless of which type of divorce fits your circumstances, a Kansas City, KS, divorce lawyer can help you throughout the process.
Deposition is one tool in the formal discovery process that asks questions of each spouse under oath. Questions are asked by the attorney representing the other spouse, and answers are recorded by a court reporter.
The biggest difference between a deposition and an in-court testimony is the lack of a family court judge in the former case. Because of the formality of deposition proceedings, it can feel very overwhelming, especially within the high-stress environment of a divorce. It can be helpful to understand the purpose of depositions and how to prepare for them.
What Is the Purpose of Divorce Depositions?
The information obtained in a divorce deposition is used as court evidence, and it is also information used by attorneys to plan their cases. The main purposes of depositions are:
- To outline each spouse’s knowledge and understanding of the facts of the divorce
- To find answers and evidence that support the other spouse’s side of things
- To know how the divorce is likely to proceed if it goes to court and potentially limit some of the issues handled in court
- To catch a spouse or witness in contempt of court if their in-court testimony contradicts their deposition testimony
Although questions in a deposition typically cover financial property, asset, and debt information, there are several other topics relevant to the divorce that questions may cover. This may include information about your personal life, you and your spouse’s children, and any allegations of abuse or adultery.
Preparing for Deposition
In order to effectively prepare for a divorce deposition, you should have an idea of the questions you will be asked. Review the information relating to the topics that will likely be covered and ensure you know how to answer them truthfully.
Treat the deposition like a serious court appearance. Be aware that you should never lie or convolute your answers in a deposition. Your divorce attorney can help you understand what questions you may be facing and what you are expected to answer.
Important Tips for During a Divorce Deposition
There are several important things to keep in mind as you prepare for a divorce deposition and while you are providing testimony. These tips include:
- Tell the Truth and Answer Clearly
The most important thing to keep in mind during a deposition is to tell the truth. If you lie in deposition, you can be charged. Attorneys will verify the information provided in depositions. Contradictions between information stated in court by you or other witnesses and information stated in depositions can have severe consequences.
It’s also important to be clear and easy to understand when providing answers. The answers should not be confusing or misleading.
- Do Not Provide Excess Information
If the question you are asked can be answered simply, it should be. Never answer more than what you are asked. Answer with complete truthfulness, but do not provide information you only think is relevant if it is not. Do not provide extra information or justification when a one-word response will answer the question.
- Listen Carefully to the Question
Take your time when listening to and answering questions. Many individuals in divorce depositions try to get the process over as quickly as possible. By waiting slightly, you give yourself time to fully consider your answer and for your attorney to object if the question shouldn’t be asked. If you don’t understand the question, ask clarifying questions. This can prevent you from giving extra information.
- Don’t Answer Questions You Don’t Know
If you don’t remember or don’t know the answer to the question you are being asked, say so. Never guess or speculate an answer in depositions.
Q: What Questions Should I Expect in a Divorce Deposition?
A: The exact questions depend on the unique circumstances in your divorce case. In nearly all depositions, there will be questions that relate to financial and property matters, particularly marital assets and finances. An attorney may ask you to value certain assets, list how shared income was used by each spouse, and state who is listed as the beneficiary to your accounts.
There may be questions about your personal health, relationships, and employment. If you and your spouse have children, questions may concern the children’s needs, healthcare, schooling, and other important specifics that may be used to determine a good parenting plan.
Q: How Do I Prepare for a Deposition?
A: The most important thing is to review your case, determine likely questions you will be asked, and reinforce the answers to those questions. Your deposition will likely concern financial and property information in your case. If your spouse has made allegations against you, this will likely be a subject in depositions.
It can be especially useful to talk with your attorney prior to a deposition. Your attorney has likely handled depositions before and may know what to expect. Your attorney also has a deep understanding of your own case and may even know your spouse’s attorney professionally. This can enable you to get a clearer picture of what you can expect during depositions.
Q: What Is the Purpose of a Deposition in a Divorce?
A: The point of a divorce deposition is for each attorney to find out additional information that they need for their side of the case and get these answers under oath. If the divorce goes to court, a deposition gives each attorney an understanding of how the case is likely to proceed.
The statements in the deposition are also submitted to the court as evidence. By having a spouse answer questions under oath, attorneys can use that testimony and hold the spouse in contempt of court if they contradict their deposition statements in court.
Q: Can You Answer That You Don’t Know in a Deposition?
A: Yes, you can answer that you don’t know the answer to a question in depositions if it is true. You should always be truthful when answering questions in a deposition. If you don’t know the answer to a question or can’t remember, you should say so. Keep your answers simple, straightforward, and clear, and do not provide more information than is being asked for.
Prepare With Your Divorce Attorney
The most effective way to prepare for a deposition is with an experienced divorce attorney. Contact Stange Law Firm in Kansas City today for legal guidance during your divorce.