Under New Jersey law, depositions are allowed in all types of civil cases including divorces. A deposition is essentially a recorded interview where a party in a divorce answers questions while being under oath. In most instances, the deposition takes place in a conference room at a law firm where your attorney will be present and your spouse’s attorney will ask the questions.
What Happens at a Deposition?
A divorce case can be emotionally and financially challenging for both spouses regardless of who initiated the legal proceedings. For many, the idea of being required to participate in a deposition is especially stressful if they do not know what to expect.
The most important thing to remember is that you are being asked questions under oath, which makes it critical for each answer to be truthful. If you do not understand a question or if you did not hear what was asked, be sure to request clarification before answering so that your answer is both honest and accurate.
Prior to your deposition, your New Jersey divorce lawyers will review the types of questions that will likely be asked, including:
- Background: Most depositions begin with general background questions such as name, date of birth, address, educational background and work history.
- Marital Property: Depending on the size and nature of the marital estate, you could be asked questions regarding the existence and balances of financial accounts, the purchase and subsequent improvement to real estate, the lease or purchase of vehicles, and the existence of any retirement benefits including Individual Retirement Accounts, pensions, and 401(k) accounts.
- Debts and Liabilities: Oftentimes, there are a fair number of questions that pertain to debts and liabilities. It is common for attorneys in a divorce case to inquire about charge card statements, individual purchases, cash advances as well as any outstanding mortgages, liens or loans. If the question asked is inappropriate or not allowed under New Jersey law, your attorney will make a formal objection on the record.
- Children: If you and your spouse have children, you can expect that much of the focus will be on child-related questions regarding which parent acts as the primary caregiver and an inquiry will be made with respect to proposed parenting schedules. Additional questions will likely cover child support and other child-related expenses like educational costs and uninsured medical expenses.
Tips for Divorce Depositions
As you prepare for your deposition, there are a few things to keep in mind:
- Listen: Because your answers are critical in a deposition, it is important that you listen carefully and allow the attorney who is asking the questions to fully complete what they are saying before you begin to answer. Be sure not to interrupt the attorney by starting your answer too soon.
- Respond: Limit your answers to the questions that were specifically asked. Do not volunteer additional information. Instead, provide a succinct and honest answer to the questions asked by your spouse’s attorney.
- Emotions: A divorce case is filled with emotions and it can be very difficult to be in a conference room with your spouse and his or her attorney. Remain calm and polite toward everyone in the room at all times. If you feel that you are becoming agitated or need to take a break, speak calmly to your attorney and request a short pause so that you can get a drink of water or maintain your composure.
The experienced divorce attorneys at Helmer, Conley & Kasselman, P.A. are familiar with divorce depositions and will make any necessary objections on your behalf during this difficult process. Call our office today to review the specifics of your case and develop a strategy that protects the interests of you and your children.