What is a Deposition in a Pennsylvania Divorce, and Should I Be Afraid of One?
Many clients express fears about their divorce, which is not surprising. There is a tremendous amount of inaccurate information on the Internet. Unfortunately, some people who have gone through a rough divorce post blogs about their experience, which creates the expectation that all divorces will be as catastrophic as the author’s.
One concern our Media divorce lawyers hear is fear about testifying, whether in court or in a deposition. Unless you reach an agreement for an uncontested divorce with your spouse, you might need to engage in litigation. Discovery is part of the litigation process, and depositions are a common discovery technique. Below, we identify what you should expect.
What Is a Deposition?
In a deposition, your spouse’s lawyer gets to ask you questions, which you answer under oath with a court reporter present to record questions and answers. The main purpose of a deposition is to gather information that might be used in the divorce. Depositions can be long, tedious “fishing expeditions,” but this is somewhat unavoidable. Each side must ask questions about what they don’t know, so it sometimes feels like you are being poked and prodded for no real reason. Depositions can last a couple hours or they could last more than a day.
What Information is Covered in a Deposition?
Each is different, but usually a lawyer wants to know about the following:
- Financial information. It isn’t unusual to ask a spouse about any hidden financial accounts, business interests, or investments. This information can come into play with the division of marital property.
- Job information. You might field questions about your work history and education, which can be relevant in determining spousal support.
- A lawyer might ask questions about your relationship with your children, which is important for child custody decisions.
- Physical and mental health. This information can come into play in custody determinations, and lawyers might try to uncover information you haven’t shared with your spouse.
It is important to be prepared to discuss any of the above, no matter how embarrassing it might. For this reason, meet with your attorney to discuss possible areas of questioning.
How Do You Prepare for a Deposition?
Your lawyer can have you review information, such as financial information, so you have a solid grasp of what you are testifying to. Of course, it’s acceptable to say, “I don’t know” if you truly don’t know the answer to a question. Your lawyer can discuss other ground rules, such as not guessing and not volunteering information. You might even answer a few sample questions just to get a feel for the process.
Should You Be Afraid of a Deposition?
Not with the right lawyer sitting beside you. If your spouse’s lawyer starts badgering you, then your attorney can object. A deposition should not be confrontational, though tempers can sometimes flare when everyone gets tired.
It’s also okay if you don’t know everything asked. A lawyer can follow up and provide requested documents, which often contain the information a lawyer is searching for.
At Barbara Flum Stein & Associates, our team puts clients first. We represent men and women in contested divorce in Delaware County and are beside them every step of the way. For information about how we can help, contact us to schedule an initial consultation.