Reviewing divorce deposition sample questions or scripts is helpful when going through divorce proceedings. Continue reading for an ultimate guide with tips to help you prepare and understand the divorce deposition better.
Divorce proceedings require a number of steps, and depositions are usually one of them. These required depositions can be challenging and may even add extra pressure to both parties.
Going through a divorce is lengthy, stressful and sometimes emotionally unbearable since both parties do not really know what to expect. Thus, understanding what a deposition is and how to handle it effectively will help lower your stress level and make cooperation easier between one party and their lawyer.
What Exactly Is a Deposition?
A deposition is a sworn and compelled statement that a court reporter takes outside of a courtroom. A deposition is compelled because you did not raise your hand and ask to sit for a divorce deposition, and it is sworn because the court reporter will ask you to raise your hand and to swear to tell the “truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.” This happens in one room with the court reporter, your attorney, your spouse (in most cases), and their attorney.
Depositions may occur in the attorney’s office who asks for testimony, the court reporter’s office, a conference room or other places. During the deposition proceedings, a court reporter will transcribe all of the questions and answers made throughout the meeting. The script will include any reports or statements from the opposing attorney, as well as any testimonies from the parties or their witnesses.
Even though depositions take place outside of a courtroom, a lawyer will still be able to use them during the trial, and a court reporter will be there to record everything that happens. It is critical to prepare all necessary information before your divorce deposition. By doing so, you will firmly build your case and increase your chances of getting what you want in the settlement.
Why Do Divorce Lawyers Force Depositions?
Divorce lawyers require deposition to learn more about what you or your spouse might say during your court hearings. You can view depositions as “discovery weapons” that allow the opposing lawyer to talk to you and try to pressure you directly. You can expect the opposing lawyer to elicit facts that will be favorable and valuable to their client, i.e. your spouse.
There is a limited number of questions that a lawyer can ask in front of the judge. A deposition in divorce cases, meanwhile, allows the lawyers to ask almost any question which might lead to some “special discoveries” or relevant evidence.
Even though the opposing attorney will try to make you feel somehow uncomfortable, there is nothing to worry about as long as you receive proper legal guidance, assistance and support.
Divorce Deposition Timings
Divorce depositions cannot take place before filing for divorce. You need to file a divorce case for your attorney to set and schedule a divorce deposition. Moreover, only one party can voluntarily sit for a deposition at any given time.
In most cases, depositions take place before trial due to several reasons:
- There is a substantial agreement regarding the necessary facts of the case in some cases, and the only problem is to reach a settlement between parties. Thus, depositions might not be fundamental and will turn out to be a waste of time and money.
- It is better to get over with the “discovery” process before sitting for a divorce deposition, where a party will have more time to gather all necessary documents during a divorce proceeding and before trial. This way, the divorce lawyer will have to “fill in the blanks” and save time and stress. Keep in mind that a party only gets one chance at deposition (unless unusual circumstances occur); thus, it is best to be fully prepared.
Divorce Deposition Questions
Divorce deposition questions vary greatly from one case to another. Below, we will be discussing five of the most common divorce deposition questions. Take note, however, that your lawyer might come up with other questions that are not discussed here but are relevant to your lawsuit.
Expect that your spouse’s attorney might ask you to complete some written questions (or interrogatories) before or after the divorce deposition. As its name indicates, written interrogatories are those which you answer in writing and under oath.
There’s nothing special about these questions, and they might be similar to those that the opposing attorney asked you during a recorded verbal witness statement.
If minor children are involved, it is possible that you will have to answer questions regarding the amount of time that you and your spouse spend with the children and how strong the relationship is between the children (if more than one are involved). The most challenging part of a divorce deposition is visitation and custody matters since they are very sensitive issues. Divorce attorneys might ask the following:
- What does home feel like for the children?
- Do any of the children have special needs?
- What school do the children attend?
- Who cares for the children?
- How much time does each parent spend with the children?
- What is the relationship between the children and their parents?
- How do parents interact with the children?
Answers to these questions will help the judge set a clear and final parenting plan. The judge’s primary concern is always the best interests and well-being of the children.
Another example of divorce deposition questioning is your financial situation. It is an essential element in any divorce case, especially when the division of assets, properties, or debts is included. In case one party suspects that the other is providing false information, a deposition may be the solution to help both parties make crucial decisions regarding their financial matters. Questions that you will face will be related to monthly living expenses, earning capacity, job history, experience, professional training, assets, debts, whether the unemployed spouse made any effort to find a suitable job and others like these.
If property matters are involved in your case, expect questions about how you acquired each property, how you paid for the property, whether you signed a deed and others like these.
Make sure to prepare all financial documents to support your statements. The opposing lawyer will ask you about maintenance payments, child support payments and other necessary information.
Sometimes, your living situation or your marriage type may be relevant to the court. For example, if you’re in a covenant marriage, you must answer how long you and your spouse have been living separately. You might also need to disclose your plans after the divorce, so the court can decide what is best for your children. Sometimes the present living environment might not be suitable for your children.
Physical and Mental Health
Your physical and mental state may also be relevant to your case. Thus, you must disclose any relevant information so your attorney can prepare to defend you during divorce hearings. These questions might include how your physical and mental state affect your decision-making and the ability to care for your children or support them financially.
Personal Life and Activities
You might think that your personal life is off-limits during a deposition in divorce proceedings, but unfortunately, this is not the case. You will have to explain what activities you engage in and how you spend your free time. This is important since your activities might affect your children and your overall divorce case. These recreational activities include drugs, excessive alcohol usage or any other dangerous and reckless activities, so to appropriately address the situation, don’t hide any of this information from the lawyer, as he will be your only savior during a deposition.
Top Tips on How To Win a Divorce Deposition
Divorce depositions are very stressful and case-specific, so it is essential to understand the complete divorce deposition outline and process. Work closely with your attorney and trust whatever legal advice they give you.
Here are a few tips to increase your chances of winning a divorce deposition:
1. Listen Carefully to Each Question
Very often, you think that you understand the question entirely and rush with your answers. Sometimes, questions can be tricky and designed to trap you in a corner. Attorneys are wise and will do their best to push you to disclose any valuable information that will help your opponent’s case.
Listen carefully to the entire question before answering. If you can’t understand the question properly, ask the attorney involved to repeat or rephrase their question. Do not be afraid to say that you don’t know the answer to a question and avoid giving random answers. Answer honestly and move on to the next question.
Avoid giving false statements as this will be used against you and you might even face criminal charges. It will also hurt your credibility with the court.
2. Do Not Provide Any Extra Information
Remember that a deposition is not a trial. Thus, you don’t have to volunteer and provide extra or unnecessary information to prove your point. If you give too much information, it might hurt you during the trial. Just make sure to answer questions concisely, truthfully and in an effective manner.
Please discuss with your attorney what they expect you to answer. Remember that your attorney is there to protect you and your interests, so make sure to consult with him about what information you should and should not disclose.
3. Keep Your Tone and Manners Positive
The opposing attorney will look for any weaknesses that can help bring you down, so if your attitude is aggressive, angry, over-emotional or combative, then the opposing lawyer will use this against you. They will seek to take the case to trial while proving that you won’t behave well in a courtroom.
Therefore, keep your tone and manners polite, professional, and kind. The opposing lawyer will then realize that you’re capable of behaving well in court, and taking the case to trial is not to their advantage.
- Divorce depositions are a set of questions that you are obliged to answer during the course of your divorce. While the whole process may be stressful and hectic, it is only designed to elicit the truth from all parties concerned.
- Sometimes, you might face a difficult situation where too much information comes out. Take your time discussing with your lawyers the necessary steps to handle any obstacles.
- Divorce depositions are set just before the trial, so you will have plenty of time to gather all the essential information and evidence. Profit from the time you have and prepare yourself to prove your claim and address any issues effectively.
The unique advantage of divorce depositions is that it is the only time you’ll find yourself sitting in the same room with your attorney, spouse and opposing attorney. Do not underestimate this opportunity, as it may be an effective way to discuss a settlement for your case that is acceptable to you and your spouse.
This might also be your only chance at attempting to come up with an informal resolution before any additional attorney fees arise when preparing for the trial.
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