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Preparing for a Divorce Deposition

A divorce can go one of two ways. Either both parties are able to amicably work together and come to a fair and just agreement as to how child custody, asset and property division, spousal support, and other issues should be resolved or there are issues they cannot agree on and their divorce must be litigated through the courts. One of the strongest tools that a divorce attorney has for gathering evidence during this process is the use of depositions. 

The Discovery Process

Once the spouse initiating the divorce has filed the petition to divorce with the court and the other spouse has responded to that petition, both parties – via their attorneys – will then begin the discovery process. Discover is where each side requests and exchanges documents that will help verify the facts that will be used to determine the final divorce decree. These facts are used for negotiations between the parties, as well as evidence presented to the court should a trial be necessary. 

Each side will present the other side with a notice to produce that can include a list of multiple financial documents, such as paystubs, tax returns, bank statements, and more. Attorneys may also issue interrogatories to the other side. Interrogatories are written questions that the other party is required to answer. 

It is not uncommon for a divorce attorney to want more details about the information that the other party has produced or suspect that the other party is being evasive or lying about the information they have provided. Rather than wait until the case goes to trial to make this determination, Rhode Island law allows an attorney to compel the other party to sit for a deposition. 

A deposition is just as serious as trial testimony. The person who is being deposed is sworn in and must answer questions put to them by the other spouse’s attorney under penalty of perjury. Instead of taking place in a courtroom, however, a deposition usually takes place at the attorney’s office, where a court reporter records all questions, answers, and objections. It is then put in written transcript form and can be used as evidence during the trial. 

What Happens During a Divorce Deposition?

If your divorce attorney has received notice that your spouse’s attorney has sent a deposition notice, knowing what to expect can help prepare you and make the experience less stressful. The notice will have the date, time, and location where the deposition is to take place. If there is any kind of conflict with the date and/or time, let your attorney know right away so he or she can notify the other side and they can reschedule to a date that works for everyone. 

Your attorney and your spouse’s attorney will be present at the deposition. Your spouse may be, as well, but they are not required to be present. There will also be a court reporter present who will record your entire testimony. The entire deposition will be recorded by the court reporter, just as it is in an actual courtroom. Some law firms also retain the services of a videographer to record the event. Depending on the issues that are being addressed in your divorce, there may also be other parties present, such as a guardian ad litem if child custody needs to be resolved. 

Once everyone is present, you will be sworn in by the court reporter. Each attorney will take turns asking you questions, although the majority of questions will likely be from your spouse’s attorney. Your attorney has the opportunity to object to any questions from your spouse’s attorney that they feel are not relevant or inappropriate. Your attorney will also be advising you about answering certain questions when needed. 

Other helpful tips to keep in mind during questioning include:

  • Stop and think over each question before you provide an answer.
  • Make sure you understand the question the attorney is asking you.
  • Never guess at your answer. If you don’t remember, say so. If you don’t know, say so.
  • Don’t volunteer any information. Only provide the answer to the question that is being asked. 
  • If your attorney objects to a question the other attorney is asking, do not answer the question until the objection is resolved and your attorney advises you. 
  • No matter how many times or how many different ways your spouse’s attorney asks a question, always keep to your original answer. This is a very common legal ploy attorneys use to try to trip a person’s testimony. 

It is important to remember that your attorney will help you prepare for the deposition beforehand, anticipating what questions your spouse’s attorney will be asking. This is why it is critical to be upfront with your attorney from the beginning of anything your spouse may try to use against you.

Let Our Legal Team Help

If you have made the decision to end your marriage, a Rhode Island divorce attorney from Kirshenbaum Law Associates, Inc. can help navigate you through the divorce process, including negotiations, depositions, and litigation. 

To learn more, call Kirshenbaum Law Associates at 401-467-5300 for a confidential consultation.

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