Amber Heard and Johnny Depp New Deposition Drama; what role do depositions play in divorce?

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As much as Johnny Depp has tried to keep the happenings of his divorce from Amber Heard under wraps, the media continues to report as their story unfolds. The latest headlines from Johnny and Amber’s divorce indicate that the parties have each set depositions of the other, which may or may not be postponed. Regarding the depositions, each of their attorneys have made varying allegations about the other party. It appears that although Amber showed up for a previously scheduled deposition date, Johnny’s attorneys were unable to take testimony from her because she was in the next room room crying, pacing, screaming, yelling, and laughing the entire time. Of course Amber’s lawyers say that this is completely false. Amber’s “people” also stated that it’s “highly unlikely that Johnny will appear and cooperate” for his upcoming deposition.

It is unlikely that when you think of the divorce process, you associate it with the taking of depositions. That is because depositions may not be as widely used in family as they are in other areas of law, but even so, depositions can be a valuable resource in a contested divorce matter. The following are some facts regarding depositions as they relate to divorce proceedings.

 

What is a deposition?

First, the basics. A deposition is a form of discovery, where a party is asked oral questions by an attorney and answers are given orally and under oath and on the record.  The California Code of Civil Procedure lays out the specific rules that govern depositions and discovery in general, including rules regarding notice of deposition, how long a deposition can last, where a deposition can take place, how many depositions can be taken, the manner of recording deposition answers, and more. Depositions can be taken of the actual parties to the litigation, certain third parties that have information relevant to the litigation, or experts.

Why would a deposition be necessary in a divorce?

Depositions are a great way to gather facts about a case. Different discovery tools are able to elicit different types of questions and information. The goal of depositions is to get the facts from the party being questioned; things that the questioned party has personal knowledge of, such things that he or she has done, seen, heard, or been told. These facts can lead an attorney to finding out any number of things that may be relevant to the issues in a particular case.

Depositions also “lock in” the questioned party to their answers. This can be important if a party flip-flops on answers, as the testimony taken at a deposition can then be used in court to show that the party’s answers are not very credible. The answers may be used as a basis of argument to prove or disprove certain issues in a contested matter.

What if you don’t show up for a deposition?

Amber Heard’s people have stated that they don’t expect Johnny to show up or be cooperative in his upcoming deposition. You should know that if you have been served with a deposition subpoena, there are repercussions of you choose not to comply.  Under the civil code, a person who disobeys a deposition subpoena can be punished for contempt, as well as forced to pay damages. In other words, depositions are not something to take lightly!

Ultimately, if you have been served with a deposition subpoena or anticipate a contested divorce where discovery may be necessary, it is important that you have competent and experienced legal counsel at your side. Please contact us if you are considering a divorce from your spouse, a legal separation, or have questions regarding child custody and visitation. Nancy J. Bickford is the only Certified Family Law Specialist (CFLS) in San Diego County who is also a licensed Certified Public Accountant (CPA) with a Master of Business Administration (MBA). Don’t settle for less when determining your rights. Call 858-793-8884 in Del Mar, Carmel Valley, North County or San Diego.

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