What Is the Purpose of a Deposition in Divorce?
The divorce process is scary and overwhelming for many spouses because they do not understand the legal procedures that go along with moving a petition through the court system. The mysteriousness of the legal process often increases during the discovery stage of a divorce case, which is the period each side is allowed to request documents, testimony, and other evidence to help support his/her arguments. Depending on the complexity of and conflict in the divorce, this period can last for a substantial amount of time. One type of information-gathering approach that occurs in most legal cases, including divorce, is to take a deposition of a party, witness, or other person who could have knowledge of an issue. A deposition is an informal meeting where each side has an opportunity to ask questions of the person being questioned, and the answers are recorded by a court reporter. Thus, the statements are made under oath, meaning they are true and accurate. Depositions often take place in a conference room or an attorney’s office, and can be intimidating if a person is not familiar with the setup, purpose, or procedure. Depositions can play a pivotal role in the development and resolution of a divorce case.
Overview of Depositions
To simplify, depositions may be viewed as a warm up to the types of questions an attorney will ask at the divorce trial, if the case reaches that stage. Each attorney usually has a prepared list of questions structured to address disputed issues, and follow up questions may be asked by the attorney representing the person being deposed. All responses must be verbal, and slang, like “yeah” or “nope,” is not allowed. The length of the deposition will depend upon the number of questions asked, but they all generally start with basic questions about the person’s age, work history, and education. Questions about living situations may also come up in the context of divorce. Beyond this, the questions will be dependent upon the circumstances of the case, and it is rare for an attorney to object to a particular question. Thus, the person being questioned needs to answer each question truthfully, but he/she will have an opportunity to review a transcript of the meeting and point out inaccuracies. However, note that changing an answer will be brought out in trial and should be avoided. The main thing to remember is to stay calm, not be baited into an emotional reaction by the questioning attorney, and answer the questions accurately.
Why They Matter
The primary purpose of most divorce depositions is to determine the basis for the other side’s claims, which can help an attorney decide if settlement or moving forward to a trial is the best way to achieve an acceptable outcome. In other words, depending on the strength of the presentation and content of the testimony, a trial may not be the most effective way to resolve the divorce. Further, the testimony given at the deposition can be used as evidence, especially if a statement supports the other spouse’s case. Depositions can be expensive and time-consuming, but they can also yield valuable information that helps a spouse to get his/her desired outcome.
Speak a Florida Divorce Attorney
There are many facets to a divorce trial, and depositions can play a key role in the outcome of a case. These meetings can be nerve-wracking from the outside, but having some knowledge about what to expect can make a huge difference. We know the trepidation depositions can trigger, and are here to help you move through it, and all aspects of your divorce, as smoothly as possible. Contact the Tampa divorce attorneys at All Family Law Group, P.A. in Tampa Bay for a free consultation to discuss your case.