Divorce lawsuits are started when one spouse files a complaint in court and serves the summons. Each court has rules that detail how its cases should proceed. These rules provide for procedures called discovery. Discovery is the process where both parties of the lawsuit are entitled to request information from the other party. Under the discovery process, the parties can only ask for relevant information; and once requested by your opponent, information in your possession must be disclosed.
A deposition is one of many discovery procedures. The deposition is an opportunity for one party to take the sworn oral testimony of the opposing party. Other discovery tools include the release, the subpoena and the interrogatory. A release is a notarized authorization to obtain information furnished to one party by another party. A subpoena is a formal court document demanding that an individual, business or government entity furnish information in its possession. An interrogatory is a written list of questions that one party furnishes to another for responses under oath.
Who Is Present at a Deposition
In a divorce proceeding, the individuals attending the deposition normally include the spouses, their attorneys and a stenographer who transcribes the proceedings. The attorneys will agree which side goes first. Prior to asking questions, the attorneys will usually make introductory remarks explaining the process to the parties.
To begin the deposition, one attorney will ask questions of the opposing party. For example, the wife's attorney may ask questions of the husband. Once the attorney is done with the questioning, the husband's attorney has an opportunity to ask follow-up questions of his client. During the proceeding, the opposing attorney may object to questions and ask that they be withdrawn or rephrased. If a party doesn't understand a question, he can say so and ask that it be rephrased. In our example, once the husband is done, the wife will be deposed by the opposing attorney. A few days after the deposition, the parties will receive a copy of the transcript and have the opportunity to review and correct their answers.
Nature of the Questions
The purpose of discovery is to get the parties to commit to a set of facts, eliminate issues and to determine what the parties know. It also makes a trial more efficient. At the deposition, attorneys can ask any question that is relevant or that will lead to relevant information. In a divorce, there will usually be questions regarding the spouses' incomes, expenses and net worth. If the case involves abuse, the attorneys may inquire about specific incidents, dates and the nature of relationships.
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