Oftentimes, divorce cases settle out of court through mediation or before the start of a trial through negotiations of the divorcing parties. But sometimes, a divorce case may go to trial. Prior to a trial, the parties are entitled to discovery of information from the opposing side. Discovery is the process of gathering facts and information after a lawsuit has been filed in court. There are several methods of obtaining information from the opposing party, provided the information is “relevant” to the claims or defenses raised by the divorcing spouse. Discovery requests may include answering written interrogatories or subpoenaing bank statements.
If the divorce is extremely contentious and it seems that trial is inevitable, then the parties may go ahead and schedule depositions to try to depose the divorcing spouse (the deponent) for questioning. There may be several reasons for deposing your spouse, specifically to uncover information that may possibly not be clear from the documents obtained during discovery which could be used at trial. The deposition is conducted under oath in front of a court reporter, who transcribes the statements into a transcript, which may be used to examine the deponent at trial, so people must be truthful and avoid perjuring themselves.
The deponent must respond to the questions as if they are in trial. Prior to the deposition, the deponent’s attorney will try to prepare their clients to keep the responses concise or respond by stating a simple yes or no to the questions. At the start of the deposition, questions can be very general regarding the deponent’s background information, then move to specifics regarding the marriage, children, employment and financial history, assets, parenting matters, whether there was a history of violence or abuse, or questions geared toward the legal grounds alleged in the divorce complaint.
If a custody is at issue, the questions may be tailored to deal with the children or parenting issues. The attorney may ask whether the parent uses drugs or alcohol, information regarding the parental bond with the children, criminal or driving record, employment history, previous marriages or divorces, whether they’ve had shared custody in the past, and any current visitation problems following entry of any temporary orders.
If there are financial issues and the parties are litigating over the assets or how the marital estate is to be divided, the deposition can also serve as a tool to ask about accounts that may be hidden, which financial institution money may are housed, if there were investments made during the marriage, or if there has been any transfer of money or ownership of assets leading up to the divorce. Also, the opposing attorney may ask the deponent’s interpretation or understanding of financial documents that the attorney obtained during discovery.
What happens if you decline to answer a question? If the spouse’s attorney is being rude or asking questions in a vague manner, then the deponent’s attorney may object to the form of the question or have it rephrased and then the deponent will be obligated to respond. If depositions get heated, the parties may take a recess. If a party refuses to respond, the opposing attorney may need to seek court intervention to resolve the dispute, which happens at times if the deposition gets contentious.
The Weber Law Office: Working With Our Clients to Defend Their Depositions or Conduct Depositions to “Uncover” More Information Prior to Trial
Please call Kansas Divorce Lawyer at The Weber Law Office, P.A. at (316) 265-7802 for more information regarding the deposition process. The deponent may be asked any question that is relevant to the divorce. Don’t get caught off guard by tough questions or hire us to do the questioning on your behalf prior to an impending divorce trial.