06 Jun How Long Do Divorce Depositions Take?
Average Divorce Deposition Timeline
According to the BBC, divorce rates are rising around the world – yikes! Though I have never been married, my parents divorced when I was in high school. I know what an emotional and mental toll the process can be on the couple and the entire family. However, I had no idea how much there was to the legal process of getting divorced. This was something I was recently enlightened upon when talking to a friend of mine who is an attorney. The first thing I learned about was the divorce deposition.
You may be wondering, how long do divorce depositions take? Divorce depositions usually last between two and eight hours, but in some cases, may continue over the course of several days (consecutive or spread out over time). What you say at a deposition is considered testimony, which can be used in later court proceedings.
How long the deposition is can depend on several factors, such as the number of monetary assets in the divorce, the reasoning for the divorce, etc.
The Basics of a Divorce Deposition
By definition, depositions are part of the discovery phase when preparing for a trial. This is the formal process of exchanging information between the parties about the witnesses and evidence they’ll present at trial.
A deposition is an out-of-court statement given under oath by any person involved in the case.
It may be in the form of a written transcript, a videotape, or both. In most states, either of the parties may take the deposition of the other party or any other witness.
During the deposition, attorneys will direct a series of questions toward the witnesses. The witnesses will be asked to respond to every question. The responses will then be recorded in writing. Usually, witnesses asked to participate in a deposition are key witnesses in the lawsuit and connected to one of the parties involved in the lawsuit.
When it comes to a divorce deposition, in particular, your spouse’s attorney will want to take your deposition to gather evidence related to your divorce case. Your attorney and your spouse’s attorney will be present, as well as a court reporter. The court reporter will transcribe all questions, answers, and any attorney objections into an official, written transcript.
It is your right to have a chance to review the deposition. Your spouse also can attend the deposition. During the process, both lawyers have the opportunity to ask questions. However, your attorney most likely won’t be asking questions unless it’s to clarify a problematic response to protect you in the transcription.
Before a Divorce Deposition
Before a divorce deposition takes place, your spouse’s attorney must send you a “Notice of Deposition”. This will contain the deposition date, time, and place. If your spouse’s attorney wishes to videotape you in addition to the written transcribing, he or she will need to include that information in the notice to help you adequately prepare. The notice may also include a subpoena for documents that you will need to bring with you to the deposition.
It should also be expected that before a divorce deposition takes place, you may be asked to answer questions related to the following categories to ensure all legal parties have adequate information to proceed. This all of course depends on the nature of your divorce case.
Divorce Deposition Topics
Divorce deposition topics will include:
- Finances are one of the top concerns during a divorce. Legal representation needs to understand how much income each spouse provides, other sources of income, as well as assets such as property, vehicles, or investments. Ensuring that all financial information is accurate and reported makes sure that the division of marital assets is fair between the two parties.
Financial issues also need to be worked out when both parties have accumulated debt during the marriage. You will likely need to involve an accountant in this process.
- Custody and child care are critical to discuss to establish custody and visitation rights down the road. Questions may include where the children will be while one parent is at work or what the plan of care is within the current living situation. The court’s ultimate priority is to ensure the best outcome for the children.
- Recreational or dangerous activities are also vital for legal counsel to know before a deposition, such as illegal drug use or misuse of alcohol. Anything that will impact the safety of children involved needs to be considered and addressed.
- Specific incidents or dates also need to be communicated to legal counsel. If there was a specific incident or conflict that led to the divorce, such as provable infidelity or domestic abuse, this should be told to one’s attorney as it will affect the division of assets or custody.
- Health may also be asked about because if you have a mental or physical condition that could affect the safety or well-being of children this needs to be addressed. Additionally, your counsel needs to know if you carry life, disability, or homeowner’s insurance and who are listed as the beneficiaries for such policies.
Preparing For a Divorce Deposition
When preparing for a deposition, it’s always a good idea to dress professionally. Even if the deposition isn’t being videotaped, this will give you more confidence and it will show legal counsel that you are capable of presenting yourself appropriately should you need to be put on the witness stand during a trial.
Resist the Urge to Argue
It may be tempting to argue your case during your deposition while your spouse’s attorney asks you questions, but resist that urge. Your deposition is not your trial, but rather an opportunity for your spouse’s attorney to build a case against you.
That will not work out in your favor when the divorce is finalized. Make sure you only answer the questions that are asked of you and do not supply additional information. If applicable, sometimes a simple “yes” or “no” answer is sufficient during a divorce deposition.
Never Rush Your Answers
A divorce deposition is not a fun process, and we know it can be a very nerve-wracking experience. However, you mustn’t rush your answers. There is not a time limit to the deposition. You can pause to collect your thoughts before answering the questions asked by your spouse’s attorney.
You also want to allow time for your attorney to jump in when necessary, such as a question that may be worth objecting to. Some attorneys may attempt to get under your skin so you lash out and say something harmful that will build a case against you later. No matter what, try to stay as polite and professional as possible.
Honesty is The Best Policy
Also, honesty is always the best policy. If you don’t know the answer to a question, do not try to guess. It’s totally acceptable to say you don’t remember; you don’t want to make a statement under oath that can be proven wrong later. Also, if a question asked during a deposition confuses you, make sure to ask for clarification.
Why would a divorce go to trial? After a deposition takes place, sometimes spouses can agree to a settlement and therefore there is no need to go to trial. However, if the couple is unable to resolve differences through a settlement, the two will need to go to trial to resolve any open-ended issues in the divorce.
How long after the trial is divorce final? A divorce is not deemed complete until the judgment is signed by the judge. Lengths of time may vary depending on the state in which a couple is getting the divorce.