The term “divorce deposition” sounds much more ominous than it really is. Simply stated, it is a tool used by attorneys to obtain information from both parties during a divorce. The deposition is a formal interview conducted by court personnel like an attorney or a paralegal.
Depositions are not unique to family law, and while you may hear the term “divorce deposition”, that simply refers to a deposition that is being used in a divorce case. They are used for discovery in almost all areas of law where a transcript of testimony is necessary.
Depositions are usually held in an attorney’s office—the interview is conducted under oath and is documented by a court reporter. Statements made under oath are sworn to be true; lying, falsifying, or misleading statements will compromise the case and can be prosecuted as a felony. The penalty is up to 5 years in prison and a $125,000 fine.
Depositions are often used during pre-trial discovery to document each party’s sworn testimony regarding the case. Depositions usually seek to uncover information regarding income, assets, debts, and the desired outcome of the opposing party. Additionally, the deposition creates a permanent written record that becomes evidence that is admissible in court. This is particularly valuable when allegations of abuse or violence are present, as sworn testimony of the allegations can be useful in uncovering false accusations.
Depositions are not limited to just the spouses that are divorcing. Anyone that is relevant to the case can be deposed. People like co-workers, childcare providers, and family members can be called to answer questions under oath.
Depositions are not a requirement of every case, but are commonly used in custody cases and complex, contentious, or high asset divorces. Anything that is disclosed during a deposition can be used if a divorce agreement is not reached and the divorce goes to trial.
Because depositions are admissible during a trial, having consistency in your answers is crucial. Depositions can be used by opposing counsel (your spouse’s attorney) to cross-examine witnesses. During cross-examination, the opposing counsel will try to point out inconsistencies and undermine the credibility of the witness.
Depositions can be a powerful tool in the discovery process and in building the case. They provide an opportunity to proactively craft an argument that efficiently addresses allegations and circumstances that will be influential in the outcome.
When a case is finally heard by the court it can be anticlimactic for clients. Oftentimes the judge will review the documents and listen to attorney’s arguments, but usually the client won’t get an opportunity to speak. A deposition can be a client’s “day in court”. Depositions can cast a broad net for gathering information. Because it is a part of the discovery process, the deposition can address a wider range of topics and provide the client the chance to have their side of the story heard in its entirety. It can also offer an opportunity to ask questions that might not be allowed in court.
Regardless if you are using a deposition as part of your legal offense, or if the other party has requested it, it is important to be prepared. Your attorney will be able to help you prepare for the sworn questions and answers by outlining what to expect from the process.
Your lawyer will give you specific guidelines that address the unique facets of your case, but there are some general recommendations for surviving your first deposition.
There are many benefits to being truthful: You won’t run the risk of committing perjury; it will be easy to maintain consistency in your answers, and you won’t undermine your credibility. Lying in your deposition is never a good idea and can put you on the fast track for fines, jail time, and losing your case.
Understand the Questions
Make sure that you understand what the question is asking before providing an answer. If you don’t understand the question, or you didn’t hear it, be sure to get clarification. You can ask the attorney to rephrase the question or have the court reporter read the question back to you.
Don’t Volunteer Information
It is incredibly common for people to volunteer information above and beyond what is required. If you are asked a yes or no question, limit your answer to yes or no. If more information is required the attorney will ask follow up questions.
Additionally, don’t explain your answers. Be polite, provide accurate answers, but keep them short. Trying to explain or provide additional information can make you seem untrustworthy or dishonest.
Jokes, attempts at humor, and sarcasm rarely translate well into written documents. The court reporter will only record what is said, so attempting to be funny might result in making you seem crude or like you are avoiding the questions.
Seek Guidance From Your Attorney
Your attorney is there to guide you through the divorce and deposition process. They have most likely participated in numerous depositions and are well aware of potential pitfalls. Work with your attorney to prepare for the deposition—they will be able to guide you on addressing difficult topics and making the deposition as positive as possible.
Educating yourself on your rights and what to expect from the divorce process can help you save money. The more you know about the process the easier it will be to work with your attorney or mediator to reach a divorce agreement.
Understanding the process will allow you to do some of the legwork that you might otherwise pay your attorney to do. Taking a hands-on-approach that is coordinated with your divorce lawyer can make sure you are doing everything you can to secure the best outcome for your case. Additionally, by educating yourself you will better understand what your attorney is doing and why.
It is important that you work with your attorney to make sure the crucial steps are completed at the right time— otherwise you run the risk of undermining the work your lawyer has done and potentially create additional work that could cost you more money.
Being organized is an essential part of streamlining the divorce process and will save you money and stress. It is an expensive proposition to have your attorney organize your documents. Arranging information, documents, and files in a way that helps your attorney understand your situation and the facts of your case will save you money.
Don’t spend money to have your attorney do work that you can do yourself. Refrain from having your attorney gather financial documents or information from your ex-wife if you already have access to that information. If you don’t have the time or the patience to organize your documents and information, consider hiring a temporary personal assistant. A personal assistant will cost anywhere between $30 and $50 an hour—significantly cheaper than paying your attorney to do the same work.
To protect your assets and work as efficiently as possible, you need to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth. By giving your attorney all the information up front, they will be able to chart the best course of action to protect your assets.
Clients that withhold information can inadvertently undermine their case. Your attorney is there to help you and failing to share information can impair their ability to protect your rights.
Pick your battles
Be realistic about what you aren’t willing to compromise. Too often couples will spend $600 in attorney’s fees fighting over an item that could be replaced new for $300. Men who have a clear idea of what they are willing to concede and what isn’t negotiable will often fare better than men who try and fight for everything.
That being said, a divorce is no time to be a pushover. The decisions made now can impact your life for many years, and some things like spousal support are very difficult to change once the divorce is final. Being strategic now can save you money and headaches down the road.
Don’t use your attorney as a therapist
Given the highly personal nature of divorce, your attorney will probably know more about you than some of your close friends —this will occasionally cause some men to use their lawyer as a therapist. While your attorney should be empathetic, it is not in your best interest seek emotional support from your lawyer.
Working with a psychologist, therapist, or counselor can be an important part of recovering from divorce. A mental health professional will have the tools and resources to properly help you through the emotional upheaval that comes with divorce.
What can I do after the final Judgment/Decree to improve my situation, reduce support or increase time with my children?
When circumstances change it can create challenges for men paying or receiving child support. Changes in employment status, household income, or other events can drastically affect the need for, or ability to pay, support. For men in these situations, it can be frustrating to know what comes next. Fortunately, there are options available to adjust support and increase your time with your kids. Modifications and appeals provide opportunities for amending support and custody orders.
What are modifications?
A modification is a legal course of action that is used to change a final court order. Modifications can alter where and with whom your child visits, where the child lives, the amount of financial support, and other factors outlined by your parenting plan.
Modifications can be categorized as major or minor depending on what they seek to change. A major modification will request big changes to the existing parenting plan. An example of a major change would be requesting physical custody. Minor modifications are small changes like adjusting pickup times or locations.
Modifications are subject to evaluation and by the court. Before a modification is granted the person requesting the change will have to prove there is adequate reason for altering the order. If the person petitioning for the change cannot show there is adequate cause, the modification will be dismissed.
What are appeals?
An appeal is a request to review and change the decision of the court. It is important to note that an appeal is not a second trial. An appeal is heard by The Court of Appeals— it is their goal to make sure the Trial court followed all applicable laws and did not abuse its discretion.
The first thing you should do if you need to change your custody or support orders is to speak to an experienced family law attorney. They will help you evaluate your unique situation and determine if there is adequate cause for a change. If you need answers to your modification and appeal questions, please, call us. (503) 731-8888
When a marriage hits a rough patch, it is common for men to wonder, “Will my marriage end in divorce?” There is a big difference between a rough patch and a marriage that has been derailed and is headed for divorce. Being able to distinguish between temporary challenges that happen in every relationship and irreconcilable differences is important.
Not all marriages that have hit hard times are doomed for divorce. When you are mired in the challenges of a relationship that is struggling it can be difficult to tell the difference between a temporary breakdown and sending it to the scrap yard.
Every marriage is different and the decision to divorce should not be made lightly. Relationships that are headed for divorce often share a few common threads: problems with communication, disengagement, and lack of conflict resolution.
Regardless if a relationship is romantic, platonic, or a business partnership, effective communication is a cornerstone for success. Relationships that are headed for divorce often lack the key elements of communication. When communication stops being productive it can be a red flag that the relationship is headed for trouble. If your conversations are laden with sarcasm, accusations, or constant criticism, it can be difficult to recover from those communication patterns.
Additionally, if you find yourself approaching interactions with your wife with defensiveness or stonewalling, that can be an indicator of a relationship headed toward the point of no return.
Marital disengagement from either or both parties usually occurs as when the spouses are trying to distance themselves from the relationship. Sometimes this distancing is intentional, other times it is a subconscious detachment from the marriage. If you find that most of the time you spend with your spouse is accompanied by distractions like TV, books, games, surfing the web, etc. you may have established a pattern of avoidance.
Disagreements and even arguments are not uncommon in romantic relationships. It can be healthy to disagree and even the best marriages will experience friction over some topics. The distinction between healthy disagreement and corrosive conflict often boils down to how the disagreement is handled.
If you and your wife fall into a routine, arguing about the same thing over and over again, this could indicate your marriage has become stagnant or is headed for trouble. Additionally if one, or both, partners refuse to work towards a solution this can wreck havoc on the long-term viability of the marriage.
Determining if a troubled marriage is salvageable is no easy task and often requires the help of professionals like a counselor or therapist. Not to be taken lightly, the decision to divorce will have long lasting effects both emotionally and financially. If you think you might be headed towards divorce, it can be beneficial to speak to an experienced family law attorney to educate yourself on the legal implications of dissolving your marriage.
For a novel look at the probability of you marriage lasting for the long haul, plug in your information into the calculator below.
For men going through divorce, having a plan and a divorce strategy in place can make a difficult situation easier. Creating a divorce strategy is particularly important for men—it will help you protect your assets, potentially reduce your support exposure and improve your chances of custody/more visitation during the divorce process.
1. Slow Down
By the time the decision to divorce has been made, many men have reached the point of “just get me out”. It is perfectly normal to feel this way, however, it is important that you slow down and evaluate the situation to prevent rushing into an unfavorable agreement.
The decisions you make now will have long lasting effects. It is important that you can live with the terms of your divorce agreement because some items (like spousal support) cannot be changed easily once the divorce is final.
2. Recruit Help
Your divorce strategy should include seeking the advice and guidance of an experienced divorce lawyer. Every divorce is unique and it is essential that you speak to a knowledgeable family law attorney to understand how your specific circumstances will affect your divorce.
A qualified divorce lawyer will educate you on your rights, your options, and provide guidance navigating the divorce process. Even if you are considering doing your divorce yourself, you should meet with a family law attorney to understand your specific divorce situation and how the facts of your case may impact the outcome of your divorce.
Divorce is stressful and men shouldn’t overlook the emotional impact that divorce can have. Working with a therapist can provide men the tools they need to manage stress and build healthy romantic relationships in the future.
3. Establish a Precedent
If you have children, being actively involved in their daily routine and goings-on is important. When deciding custody, the courts will evaluate how entrenched each parent is in day-to-day activities. The more involved a parent is, the more likely it is that they will get equal parenting time.
Fathers that are considering divorce should discuss their situation with a family law attorney prior to filing for divorce. Your attorney will help you create a specific divorce strategy that will address your unique custody needs.
Additionally, as part of your divorce strategy, you shouldn’t move out of the marital home until a separation agreement has been created. Moving out of the marital home can set a precedent of support that isn’t an accurate portrayal of your financial situation.
Men that move out of the marital home, but continue to financially support the two households (the new home and the marital home) can set a precedent of support. Even though the man may be struggling to keep both households afloat by draining savings accounts, borrowing money from family, or foregoing furniture to make ends meet, the court may view this scenario as an ability to support two households. This can turn what was meant to be a temporary transition into a permanent obligation.
Prioritizing is essential for your divorce. Deciding what you want and what you are willing to compromise on ahead of time can save you time, money, and stress.
It isn’t uncommon for men going through divorce to find themselves in a heated battle over something that under different circumstances would be unimportant. Determining what you are willing to fight over and what you can let go before it turns into a conflict will help you avoid arguing over every detail.
Establishing a divorce strategy early on is important for securing the most favorable outcome possible. Divorce is rarely an easy process and having a plan (and the right people on your side) can make all the difference. If you are a man that has questions about your unique situation and would like help creating a personalized divorce strategy, please give us a call.
Rick Saturn has been selected by his peers for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America© 2014 in the field of family law (Copyright 2013 by Woodward/White, Inc., of Aiken, SC).
Since it was first published in 1983, Best Lawyers® has become universally regarded as the definitive guide to legal excellence. Because Best Lawyers is based on an exhaustive peer-review survey in which almost 50,000 leading attorneys cast nearly five million votes on the legal abilities of other lawyers in their practice areas, and because lawyers are not required or allowed to pay a fee to be listed, inclusion in Best Lawyers is considered a singular honor. Corporate Counsel magazine has called Best Lawyers “the most respected referral list of attorneys in practice.”
Rick has been practicing law for more than 25 years and has earned his reputation as fierce advocate and effective attorney. Rick is a valuable part of the Goldberg Jones team–his financial background and deep understanding of real-estate law make him an agile and efficient family law attorney.
Managing attorney Colin Amos commented on Rick’s inclusion on The Best Lawyers in America© 2014 saying, “This recognition by his peers comes as no surprise. He is a sharp attorney who is focused on producing results. His legal work is deserving of acknowledgment!”
When he isn’t defending fathers’ rights, Rick is active in the Portland community. He is an ambassador for the city of Portland as member of the Royal Rosarians, and promotes excellence in legal advocacy through his work with the Gus J. Solomon Inn of Court.
We are proud to have Rick on our team and his inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America© 2014 is a wonderful recognition by his peers. Rick, and all the attorneys at Goldberg Jones, are dedicated to providing outstanding legal representation to the husbands and fathers of Portland and the surrounding communities.
When a relationship is coming to an end, it can be easy for couples to fall into a pattern of high conflict communication. Hurt feelings, anger, and all the other emotions that come with the territory can leave people scrambling to communicate effectively—but effective divorce communication can be essential for protecting your rights and your assets (and save you money).
Usually couples will fall into one of two categories when it comes to divorce communication—they will become reactive or responsive. The difference between these two communication styles usually boils down to perspective.
People that are reactive in their communication are often driven by emotions like anger, fear, or panic (among others). Approaching conflict in a reactive manner can escalate the situation and create additional challenges that impair reaching a resolution.
Responsive communicators tend to use a logical, controlled and efficient approach when dealing with high conflict communication. Being a responsive communicator is a learned skill that takes practice. Recently The Good Men Project published an article by Steve Horsmon that outlined some tactics for becoming more responsive and less reactive.
Horsmon suggests that eye contact and active listening can elevate your communication and help you respond like an adult. He also suggests that treating the conflict as important and not minimizing the other person’s feelings will make the interaction more effective. Horsmon includes some excellent points in his article; you can read it in its entirety here.
As divorce attorneys, we regularly see communication between couples break down. From this experience we have compiled a few common sense tactics that we have found to be successful in divorce communication.
This may seem rudimentary, but it is important. Even if you disagree with what the other party is saying, let them finish before you share your point of view. Interrupting people is a sure-fire way to put them on guard and escalate the discussion.
Be nice, and if you can’t be nice, then at least be polite
Regardless of how you feel about your soon-to-be ex, rely on good manners to guide your conversation. While it might feel good in the moment, rude comments and intentional attempts to get under their skin will only slow down the communication process and might even hurt your case.
Oftentimes couples going through a divorce find it difficult to interact without the situation getting heated. If this is the case, relying on email can be beneficial. By keeping interactions strictly digital, you can allow yourself time to create an appropriate response and revise your message before hitting send. Additionally, communicating by email will create a log of your communication that may be advantageous to your divorce case.
Communicating with your ex during the divorce process can be challenging and every situation is unique. Working to improve your communication can make the divorce process smoother and positively impact other areas of your life. It may seem like a daunting task, but it is worth the effort.
Disclaimer – The materials posted in this blog are for informational purposes only. The information presented is general in nature, and may not apply to particular factual or legal circumstances. The information presented here does not constitute legal advice or opinions and should not be relied upon as such.
The first topic of the day was the 3 million dollar paternity suit in which former Oasis frontman, Liam Gallagher, has been named. According to online reports, a $3 million paternity suit has been filed in regards to a seven-month-old little girl.
New York Times journalist, Liza Ghorbani, is bringing the paternity suit against Gallagher after profiling the musician in 2010. According to one source:
“Gallagher started an affair with her, they took a few months off, then started again. The relationship allegedly continued on and off for the next three years until Ghorbani told the former Oasis singer that she had a bun in the oven. The same source also claimed that Ghorbani was involved with another British rocker, whom it did not identify, and is "looking for money."
Colin addressed several of the issues that can arise during a paternity case, starting with establishing legal paternity. The most efficient way for a man to establish if he is the biological father, is to take a DNA paternity test.
In Gallagher’s case, a DNA test will be required because he is not married to the child’s mother and he has not declared that he is the child’s father by filing the appropriate documents. While Gallagher's case will be heard in the jurisdiction it was filed, it is worth noting how paternity is established in Oregon.
If a child is born to a married couple, the mother’s spouse is assumed to be the father. In situations where the couple isn’t married, paternity can be established by submitting paperwork, through a court, or by an administrative legal process.
In instances like Gallagher’s, where the alleged father believes he is not the biological father, he will need to take a DNA paternity test to confirm that he isn’t the biological dad.
Shifting away from paternity, Colin also answered the question “My girlfriend and I just bought a house together. I don't know if we will get married, how can I protect my assets?”
This is a poignant question as many couples are forgoing marriage and instead choosing to cohabitate. Unfortunately, this type of cohabitating romantic relationship can create some major challenges if the couple breaks up.
Colin recommended that couples should draft a written agreement when making large investments, purchasing property, or planning for the future. Having a written record of how assets are to be divided if the relationship ends may seem unromantic—but it can save you headaches and money if things don’t go as planned.
You can hear all of Colin’s insight and advice in the clip below. If you have questions about divorce, custody, child support, or any other family law matter, please give Colin a call. He is always happy to answer your questions over the phone at no charge and no obligation. (503) 731-8888
What is alimony?
Impacted by economic, cultural and social factors, alimony has evolved into a transitional tool to help economically disadvantaged spouses become financially self-sufficient after the end of a marriage.
The concept of ongoing support underwent a significant change as divorce laws evolved in the 19th century. Alimony became tied to at-fault divorces when marital misconduct was present. This interpretation of alimony operated on the assumption that the wife was entitled to ongoing support because if the husband had not committed the marital misbehavior the marriage (and support) would have continued.
Conversely, if the wife engaged in marital misbehavior she was considered to have voluntarily forfeited the claim to ongoing support. This paradigm shifted significantly with the rise of no-fault divorces—also known as irreconcilable differences. California was the first state to allow no-fault divorces in 1969 and the adoption of no-fault divorce spread quickly—by 1985 all states (except New York) had enacted no-fault legislation.
Another key factor in the evolution of alimony was the 1970 United States Supreme Court ruling that prohibited a gender bias in alimony awards, meaning men were just as entitled to receive support as women.
Spousal maintenance has transformed and had a change of moniker; in Oregon, it is now referred to as spousal support. With the name change also came an updated interpretation. Spousal support is designed to be transitional in nature to allow a financially disadvantaged spouse to adjust to the new economic arrangement that comes with divorce.
In some instances, spousal support can be awarded for the entirety of the recipient’s life. While not common, in situations where one spouse has never worked outside the home and the length of the marriage is substantial, it is possible that spousal maintenance will be established to provide support for the duration of the spouse’s life.
Spousal Support Reform
There is a growing movement to eliminate permanent alimony completely. Recently a bill was passed in Florida banning permanent alimony and defining what constitutes a long-term marriage. Governor Rick Scott ultimately vetoed the bill, but it highlights some of the changes that alimony reform seeks to implement.
In addition to the elimination of permanent alimony, the vetoed bill sought to remove the consideration of standard of living during the marriage, and create a presumption that both parties will have a lower standard of living after the divorce. Additionally the bill would have created additional requirements and limits on how and when spousal support would be awarded.
The push for change in Florida comes on the heels of a measure passed in Massachusetts in 2011. The Massachusetts law went into effect in March 2012 and ended permanent alimony and provides guidelines for calculating payments.
It is worth noting that an award of indefinite or permanent spousal support has become increasingly less common as two income households have outnumbered single income families. According to 2002 U.S. Census data and the Population Reference Bureau, 31 percent of married couple households with children are dual-income families versus 13 percent of families where only the husband works outside the home.
The Massachusetts Alimony Reform Act and the changes sought in Florida will lay the groundwork for changes to Oregon’s spousal support laws. While there are numerous facets to the implications these reforms might bring, cohabitation is at the top of our “to watch” list.
Those receiving spousal support in Massachusetts will need to think carefully before cohabitating. Prior to the Alimony Reform Act taking effect, cohabitation had no impact on support payments. Under the new laws, living with a partner that contributes financially can trigger the reduction, suspension, or loss of support payments if specific factors are met.
With marriage rates declining, and cohabitation becoming more popular, it will be interesting to see how state laws will adapt to accommodate these changes. We will be keeping a close eye on the changes proposed to Oregon spousal support laws and will continue to weigh in on the potential implications.
What do you think? Do you think Oregon’s spousal support laws should be reformed?
The definition of family in the United States has evolved greatly and a one-size-fits-all characterization doesn’t exist. With the changing composition of American families, it is common for extended relatives and grandparents to step in and parent when the biological parent is absent or unable to fill the parenting role. Stepping up to raise a child can be rewarding, but can also carry uncertainty—depending on the circumstances.
For grandparents, or relatives looking to have greater access to minor children in the family, the uncertainty is compounded. We are frequently contacted by relatives seeking answers to their questions about their rights and what considerations should be made in regards to children in their families.
One of the most common questions comes from grandparents providing childcare for their grandkids whose parents are unmarried. We frequently hear: “I care for my grandchild while my son works. My son and the child’s mother aren’t married. The mother sometimes stops by and wants to take the child while I am watching them. What are my rights?”
This question requires additional information to provide an accurate answer. Generally speaking, both legal parents will have equal rights over the child unless or until the court awards one parent greater rights than the other. If no court order exists that specifically outlines when the child is to spend time with the respective parents, then either parent can take the child from the non-parent on demand.
However, if the parent has a current court order allocating specific parenting time, then the other parent cannot take the child on demand. To illustrate this using the above example: If the grandparent is watching their son’s child during the time that the court order grants him parenting time, then the child’s mother cannot take the child at will.
If a court order outlining whom is to have the child exists, it can be useful to keep a copy of the court order on hand while the child is in your care. It is possible that multiple court orders may exist and they may be contradictory. It is always advisable to seek the counsel of an experienced family law attorney for specific guidance for your unique circumstances in regards to family law matters.
Another common concern raised by grandparents involves extended stays while the parents are away. Grandparents often ask what they should do to make sure they have the authority to make the necessary decisions on behalf of the child during the parent’s absence. This situation frequently arises when a single-parent is deployed by the military or when parents travel for extended periods of time and leave the child under the care of a grandparent.
If you will be watching a grandchild for an extended period of time it is possible that being authorized as the child’s temporary power of attorney is advisable. In Oregon, parents can give others the right to take care of their child for up to 6 months at a time. Granting temporary power of attorney will not forfeit the parent’s rights, but it will allow a temporary caretaker to make the necessary decisions to preserve the child’s well being.
It is not required to involve the courts to grant temporary power of attorney. However, it is essential to understand the implications of giving decision making power to another person. The choices of that individual may carry high costs and have serious financial consequences. For that reason it is important to speak with an attorney to ensure that the document grants the appropriate power. An experienced Oregon family law attorney can help you determine what your unique situation requires and draft the necessary documents.
Once power of attorney is granted, the parent can revoke the power of attorney and has the right to take the child back at any time. If no time frame is specified the power of attorney will expire after 6 months.
These are only a few of the facets of grandparents (third party) rights. It is important to note that Oregon has a “third party custody” statute that provides for an involved party to pursue court ordered visitation or custody. This statute is not reserved for only grandparents, but other individuals as well. We will cover this particular statute in a future blog post.
The topic of grandparents’ rights is broad and covers a wide range of subjects —and extends beyond just grandparents. If you have questions about grandparents’ rights, third party custody, or any other family law issue, please give us a call. Our managing attorney, Colin Amos, is happy to provide you answers over the phone at no charge and no obligation. (503) 731-8888