What is the Purpose of a Deposition in a Divorce?

The purpose of a divorce deposition is to find out what will be said or testified to in court during the divorce proceedings.

In a divorce, there are different issues to address. This includes the grounds for divorce, custody, child support, division of marital assets, and debt division.

To be as prepared to litigate these issues as possible, we would need to have facts and documentation related to these issues. The tool used to gather this information is called the Discovery process.

Discovery is a phase in a court case wherein either side may request to obtain information from the other spouse that is likely to lead to relevant evidence. A form of discovery is a deposition.

What is a Divorce Deposition?

A divorce deposition is a more informal setting than trial or a hearing, wherein one party solicits the testimony of another party or witness. This is a fancy way of saying everyone involved in a case sits around a table and gets to ask each potential witness questions, and you get the chance to answer questions that you feel could support your case to lead to a better divorce agreement.

This typically happens in a law office and not in a courtroom. The person being deposed, however, is sworn under oath so the testimony should be truthful and can be used in court. You will be answering questions related to your side of the divorce case, so there are a few tips that will help you answer the questions from your spouse’s attorney a little more clearly.

Why are Divorce Depositions Important?

This discovery tool is useful as one party can gather the testimony of the other before going to trial or a hearing. It can be used to gain facts known to the deposed party but not the party deposing.

The benefit of having information before a hearing or trial is that there is no element of surprise the day of the event. Each side is usually aware of what the other will be using to present their case.

Another use is to hold the deposed party accountable for what they testify to. So, if the party makes one statement in a divorce deposition but changes their statement at trial, they can be shown as dishonest, inconsistent, or unreliable.

For example, in pleadings for divorce in Arkansas, the most common ground for divorce is general indignities.

Now, the fact that one’s spouse states that the other made their life so intolerable that they could no longer live in the marriage is not alone a sufficient statement to be granted a divorce.

What Kinds of Questions Will be Asked?

What were the conditions exactly that made their life intolerable? This is a question that can be asked in deposition so that there is a more precise picture of that person’s claim.

Divorce depositions can also be used in cases where people disagree over who should have custody of children.

Divorce depositions are a great time to get all the information from the other side about why he or she thinks a certain custody situation should be ordered. Why is it best for the kids? What evidence is there to support that?

A Divorce deposition will gather relevant information so that the party is aware of details not given through pleadings and it helps the parties prepare for settlement or trial on the issues questioned.

Are the Divorce Attorneys Present During the Deposition?

The divorce deposition is typically held at the office of the spouse’s attorney requesting the testimony. The person being deposed will have their divorce attorney present to ensure that the questions being asked by the opposing attorney are relevant to the case.

You and your attorney should have prepared in advance for the deposition so that there are no surprises. Typically, some of the topics covered would be your financial situation, child custody (if there are minor children involved), physical and mental health, how you spend your personal time (recreational activities), your current living situation, and any specific events or dates that are important to the case.

It’s important that you tell the truth. There is a lot riding on a divorce case, and any lies told can hurt your credibility. I’m some cases, any failure to disclose information truthfully could lead to a person losing child custody or you could even face criminal charges, depending on the severity of the topic.

As mentioned before, you should have prepared well in advance with your divorce attorney. Part of that preparation should have been for you to better understand the environment of the deposition.

Depositions can be emotional and stressful, so the better prepared you are, the better the process will be.