If you’ve watched legal dramas, the term “deposition” may already be familiar to you. While the process of giving a deposition usually looks intimidating in the movies, in reality, it’s not as nerve-wracking as you might think.
What is a Divorce Deposition?
Deposition in a divorce is a sworn statement that you give at your spouse’s attorney’s request (or demand). It is usually given in the presence of your attorney, your spouse’s attorney, a court reporter, and your spouse. You have the same obligation to be truthful during a deposition as you would if you were testifying in a courtroom.
The purpose of a divorce deposition is two-fold. A deposition allows the attorneys to collect extra information as part of the discovery process. Neither side is allowed to withhold evidence or other important information. This is why Colorado - among other states - will enable attorneys to call in witnesses and others to be deposed.
The attorneys also use the deposition to assess what either party intends to say during the potential court hearings and learn your version of events. That being said, some divorce attorneys also attempt to intimidate the deposed spouse. During the deposition, the attorney may ask questions that compel you to make statements favor your ex.
This is why it is crucial to hire an experienced divorce attorney. They will prepare you for a divorce deposition. You can also count on them being there during the process. Your attorney can stop the other party from crossing any legal lines, and you can seek their advice during the process.
If you’ve been summoned to give a deposition, and haven’t hired an attorney, take action immediately. Inform your soon-to-be ex-spouse’s attorney that you will not be proceeding without a family lawyer.
Do You Legally Have to Give a Deposition?
Yes, if you received a deposition summons from your spouse’s attorney, you will have to collaborate. Under the Colorado Rules of Civil Procedure, the notice to attend a deposition must be presented within a reasonable time (around 14 days). A court-appointed officer will have to be present during the deposition to swear you in and perform transcription or recording of the deposition.
While you can request an extension of the deposition date, you’ll need to provide valid justification. Also, continued avoidance of deposition may prompt the other attorney to file a subpoena with the court and serve it to you. Refusing to attend the court under a subpoena can result in extra contempt of the court charges.
Information Provided in a Divorce Deposition
Deposition helps lawyers collect extra information around the case. The divorce deposition questions you will be asked will depend on the particulars of your situation. However, a few subject areas are probably going to be addressed. These are:
- Specific incidents that could impact the resolution of the case: If a family law attorney believes that any events may have an impact on custody, child support, or division of assets, they will ask you for your version of those events and details you remember.
- Your activities and behaviors: The lawyer conducting the deposition may ask you about activities or behaviors such as drug or alcohol consumption. They may also ask you about your conduct during the marriage.
- Your financial situation: You may be asked about your income, assets, and any debts you have incurred. Having this information helps lawyers ensure that property is divided fairly and that any support orders are fair.
- Child care and custody arrangements: If there are children involved, you may be asked questions about your work schedule, when you spend time with the children, and if they spend time with sitters or in daycare. This information may be used to propose custody and visitation arrangements.
Keep in mind that while these questions may seem invasive, your Denver Family Law attorney will likely be deposing your spouse as well. In fact, you may be recruited by your lawyer to write up questions for your spouse to answer. Remember that the goal shouldn’t be to dig for dirt. Instead, focus on gathering information towards a fair resolution.
Sample Divorce Deposition Questions
To help you better prepare, here are several common types of questions asked during divorce depositions:
- Are you employed? How much income have you contributed to the household?
- Did you have any personal debt before marriage?
- How have you contributed to the purchase of the shared asset?
- Have you ever withheld and concealed any income from your spouse?
- How would you describe your relationships with the children?
- Who provides more care to the children?
- What are your current living arrangements?
- How do you plan to ensure that the children maintain their standard routine?
- What is your current employment status?
- What are your standard working hours?
- Do you have any history of substance abuse?
- Do you have any mental or physical health issues?
Don’t be intimidated at being called in for a deposition. It is a normal part of the legal process. Your lawyer will be there to help. And if you don’t have one yet, schedule a call with one of our professionals today.
FAQs about Divorce Deposition
Below are answers to several more frequently asked questions about divorce deposition.
How much does a divorce deposition cost?
The cost of divorce deposition primarily depends on the length of deposition. The process may take under an hour or more if counsel on either end expresses too many objections, or on the contrary — tries to wear you down with multiple questions. Colorado laws cap maximum deposition time at 6 hours at a time. Meaning that would be roughly $1,200+ in attorney fees for one full day of the deposition. But you will also need to factor in the cost of transcription and videotaping (if necessary). These can further increase the deposition cost, $3,000-$5,000 on average.
What questions can not be asked in a divorce deposition?
Similar to giving testimony in court, the opposing counsel cannot make you answer questions that disclose any type of privileged information you have (e.g. as part of the client-attorney relationships) or reworded versions of an earlier answered question, which are asked with the purpose of confusing you. Similarly, you can refuse to answer any questions which prompt you to give legal conclusions.
Who is present during deposition?
At a minimum, four people will be present during a divorce deposition — the deponent, their attorney, opposing counsel, and the court-appointed officer to swear in the deponent. Your spouse can be present as well, should you choose to exchange depositions on the same day.
Can a divorce be settled at a deposition?
Yes. In fact, many attorneys chose to depose the other party with the sole purpose of getting some leverage for divorce settlement negotiations. However, if you cannot reach an agreement after the deposition, all the obtained information can be used as evidence in the court trials.