Divorce depositions are available in Oregon as part of the overall discovery process. The deponent– the person being deposed– must appear pursuant to notice and provide truthful answers under oath to questions asked by the person conducting the deposition.
Depositions can be extremely important in divorce cases where there are facts in dispute. In addition to making requests for production of documents, the ability to require an opposing party to sit down and answer detailed questions can be a powerful discovery tool. The questions asked don’t need to be relevant or admissible at trial, they only need to be reasonably calculated to relevant information.
The only real downside to depositions in divorce cases is the cost or expense. In additional to the cost of having an attorney conduct questions for a period of a few hours to several hours, the party conducting the depositions must also pay for a stenographer to record the depositions, and then transcribe the record. The cost of transcribing a typical half-day of divorce depositions runs several hundred dollars, and the cost of transcribing a whole day of depositions typically runs a few thousand dollars. In most cases, your attorney can tell you whether or not depositions will be cost-effective given the facts and legal issues in your specific case.
Depositions Upon Oral Examination (Oregon Rule of Civil Procedure 39)
A When deposition may be taken. After the service of summons or the appearance of the defendant in any action, or in a special proceeding at any time after a question of fact has arisen, any party may take the testimony of any person, including a party, by deposition upon oral examination. Leave of court, with or without notice, must be obtained only if the plaintiff seeks to take a deposition prior to the expiration of the period of time specified in Rule 7 to appear and answer after service of summons on any defendant, except that leave is not required (1) if a defendant has served a notice of taking deposition or otherwise sought discovery, or (2) a special notice is given as provided in subsection C(2) of this Rule. The attendance of a witness may be compelled by subpoena as provided in Rule 55.
B Order for deposition or production of prisoner. The deposition of a person confined in a prison or jail may only be taken by leave of court. The deposition shall be taken on such terms as the court prescribes, and the court may order that the deposition be taken at the place of confinement or, when the prisoner is confined in this state, may order temporary removal and production of the prisoner for purposes of the deposition.
C Notice of examination.
C(1) General requirements. A party desiring to take the deposition of any person upon oral examination shall give reasonable notice in writing to every other party to the action. The notice shall state the time and place for taking the deposition and the name and address of each person to be examined, if known, and, if the name is not known, a general description sufficient to identify such person or the particular class or group to which such person belongs. If a subpoena duces tecum is to be served on the person to be examined, the designation of the materials to be produced as set forth in the subpoena shall be attached to or included in the notice.
C(2) Special notice. Leave of court is not required for the taking of a deposition by plaintiff if the notice (a) states that the person to be examined is about to go out of the state, or is bound on a voyage to sea, and will be unavailable for examination unless the deposition is taken before the expiration of the period of time specified in Rule 7 to appear and answer after service of summons on any defendant, and (b) sets forth facts to support the statement. The plaintiff’s attorney shall sign the notice, and such signature constitutes a certification by the attorney that to the best of such attorney’s knowledge, information, and belief the statement and supporting facts are true.
If a party shows that when served with notice under this subsection, the party was unable through the exercise of diligence to obtain counsel to represent such party at the taking of the deposition, the deposition may not be used against such party.
C(3) Shorter or longer time. The court may for cause shown enlarge or shorten the time for taking the deposition.
C(4) Non-stenographic recording. The notice of deposition required under subsection (1) of this section may provide that the testimony will be recorded by other than stenographic means, in which event the notice shall designate the manner of recording and preserving the deposition. A court may require that the deposition be taken by stenographic means if necessary to assure that the recording be accurate.
C(5) Production of documents and things. The notice to a party deponent may be accompanied by a request made in compliance with Rule 43 for the production of documents and tangible things at the taking of the deposition. The procedures of Rule 43 shall apply to the request.
C(6) Deposition of organization. A party may in the notice and in a subpoena name as the deponent a public or private corporation or a partnership or association or governmental agency and describe with reasonable particularity the matters on which examination is requested. In that event, the organization so named shall provide notice of no fewer than three (3) days before the scheduled deposition, absent good cause or agreement of the parties and the deponent, designating the name(s) of one or more officers, directors, managing agents, or other persons who consent to testify on its behalf and setting forth, for each person designated, the matters on which such person will testify. A subpoena shall advise a nonparty organization of its duty to make such a designation. The persons so designated shall testify as to matters known or reasonably available to the organization. This subsection does not preclude taking a deposition by any other procedure authorized in these rules.
C(7) Deposition by telephone. Parties may agree by stipulation or the court may order that testimony at a deposition be taken by telephone. If testimony at a deposition is taken by telephone pursuant to court order, the order shall designate the conditions of taking testimony, the manner of recording the deposition, and may include other provisions to assure that the recorded testimony will be accurate and trustworthy. If testimony at a deposition is taken by telephone other than pursuant to court order or stipulation made a part of the record, then objections as to the taking of testimony by telephone, the manner of giving the oath or affirmation, and the manner of recording the deposition are waived unless seasonable objection thereto is made at the taking of the deposition. The oath or affirmation may be administered to the deponent, either in the presence of the person administering the oath or over the telephone, at the election of the party taking the deposition.
D Examination; record; oath; objections.
D(1) Examination; cross-examination; oath. Examination and cross-examination of deponents may proceed as permitted at trial. The person described in Rule 38 shall put the deponent on oath.
D(2) Record of examination. The testimony of the deponent shall be recorded either stenographically or as provided in subsection C(4) of this rule. If testimony is recorded pursuant to subsection C(4) of this rule, the party taking the deposition shall retain the original recording without alteration, unless the recording is filed with the court pursuant to subsection G(2) of this rule, until final disposition of the action. Upon request of a party or deponent and payment of the reasonable charges therefor, the testimony shall be transcribed.
D(3) Objections. All objections made at the time of the examination shall be noted on the record. A party or deponent shall state objections concisely and in a non-argumentative and non-suggestive manner. Evidence shall be taken subject to the objection, except that a party may instruct a deponent not to answer a question, and a deponent may decline to answer a question, only:
(a) when necessary to present or preserve a motion under section E of this rule;
(b) to enforce a limitation on examination ordered by the court; or
(c) to preserve a privilege or constitutional or statutory right.
D(4) Written questions as alternative. In lieu of participating in an oral examination, parties may serve written questions on the party taking the deposition who shall propound them to the deponent on the record.
E Motion for court assistance; expenses.
E(1) Motion for court assistance. At any time during the taking of a deposition, upon motion and a showing by a party or a deponent that the deposition is being conducted or hindered in bad faith, or in a manner not consistent with these rules, or in such manner as unreasonably to annoy, embarrass, or oppress the deponent or any party, the court may order the officer conducting the examination to cease forthwith from taking the deposition, or may limit the scope or manner of the taking of the deposition as provided in section C of Rule 36. The motion shall be presented to the court in which the action is pending, except that non-party deponents may present the motion to the court in which the action is pending or the court at the place of examination. If the order terminates the examination, it shall be resumed thereafter only on order of the court in which the action is pending. Upon demand of the moving party or deponent, the parties shall suspend the taking of the deposition for the time necessary to make a motion under this subsection.
E(2) Allowance of expenses. Subsection A(4) of Rule 46 shall apply to the award of expenses incurred in relation to a motion under this section.
F Submission to witness; changes; statement.
F(1) Necessity of submission to witness for examination. When the testimony is taken by stenographic means, or is recorded by other than stenographic means as provided in subsection C(4) of this rule, and if any party or the witness so requests at the time the deposition is taken, the recording or transcription shall be submitted to the witness for examination, changes, if any, and statement of correctness. With leave of court such request may be made by a party or witness at any time before trial.
F(2) Procedure after examination. Any changes which the witness desires to make shall be entered upon the transcription or stated in a writing to accompany the recording by the party taking the deposition, together with a statement of the reasons given by the witness for making them. Notice of such changes and reasons shall promptly be served upon all parties by the party taking the deposition. The witness shall then state in writing that the transcription or recording is correct subject to the changes, if any, made by the witness, unless the parties waive the statement or the witness is physically unable to make such statement or cannot be found. If the statement is not made by the witness within 30 days, or within a lesser time upon court order, after the deposition is submitted to the witness, the party taking the deposition shall state on the transcription or in a writing to accompany the recording the fact of waiver, or the physical incapacity or absence of the witness, or the fact of refusal of the witness to make the statement, together with the reasons, if any, given therefor; and the deposition may then be used as fully as though the statement had been made unless, on a motion to suppress under Rule 41 D, the court finds that the reasons given for the refusal to make the statement require rejection of the deposition in whole or in part.
F(3) No request for examination. If no examination by the witness is requested, no statement by the witness as to the correctness of the transcription or recording is required.
G Certification; filing; exhibits; copies.
G(1) Certification. When a deposition is stenographically taken, the stenographic reporter shall certify, under oath, on the transcript that the witness was duly sworn and that the transcript is a true record of the testimony given by the witness. When a deposition is recorded by other than stenographic means as provided in subsection C(4) of this rule, and thereafter transcribed, the person transcribing it shall certify, under oath, on the transcript that such person heard the witness sworn on the recording and that the transcript is a correct transcription of the recording. When a recording or a non-stenographic deposition or a transcription of such recording or non-stenographic deposition is to be used at any proceeding in the action or is filed with the court, the party taking the deposition, or such party’s attorney, shall certify under oath that the recording, either filed or furnished to the person making the transcription, is a true, complete, and accurate recording of the deposition of the witness and that the recording has not been altered.
G(2) Filing. If requested by any party, the transcript or the recording of the deposition shall be filed with the court where the action is pending. When a deposition is stenographically taken, the stenographic reporter or, in the case of a deposition taken pursuant to subsection C(4) of this rule, the party taking the deposition shall enclose it in a sealed envelope, directed to the clerk of the court or the justice of the peace before whom the action is pending or such other person as may by writing be agreed upon, and deliver or forward it accordingly by mail or other usual channel of conveyance. If a recording of a deposition has been filed with the court, it may be transcribed upon request of any party under such terms and conditions as the court may direct.
G(3) Exhibits. Documents and things produced for inspection during the examination of the witness shall, upon the request of a party, be marked for identification and annexed to and returned with the deposition, and may be inspected and copied by any party. Whenever the person producing materials desires to retain the originals, such person may substitute copies of the originals, or afford each party an opportunity to make copies thereof. In the event the original materials are retained by the person producing them, they shall be marked for identification and the person producing them shall afford each party the subsequent opportunity to compare any copy with the original. The person producing the materials shall also be required to retain the original materials for subsequent use in any proceeding in the same action. Any party may move for an order that the original be annexed to and returned with the deposition to the court, pending final disposition of the case.
G(4) Copies. Upon payment of reasonable charges therefor, the stenographic reporter or, in the case of a deposition taken pursuant to subsection C(4) of this rule, the party taking the deposition shall furnish a copy of the deposition to any party or to the deponent.
H Payment of expenses upon failure to appear.
H(1) Failure of party to attend. If the party giving the notice of the taking of the deposition fails to attend and proceed therewith and another party attends in person or by attorney pursuant to the notice, the court in which the action is pending may order the party giving the notice to pay to such other party the amount of the reasonable expenses incurred by such other party and the attorney for such other party in so attending, including reasonable attorney’s fees.
H(2) Failure of witness to attend. If the party giving the notice of the taking of a deposition of a witness fails to serve a subpoena upon the witness and the witness because of such failure does not attend, and if another party attends in person or by attorney because the attending party expects the deposition of that witness to be taken, the court may order the party giving the notice to pay to such other party the amount of the reasonable expenses incurred by such other party and the attorney for such other party in so attending, including reasonable attorney’s fees.
I Perpetuation of testimony after commencement of action.
I(1) After commencement of any action, any party wishing to perpetuate the testimony of a witness for the purpose of trial or hearing may do so by serving a perpetuation deposition notice.
I(2) The notice is subject to subsections C(1) through (7) of this rule and shall additionally state:
I(2)(a) A brief description of the subject areas of testimony of the witness; and
I(2)(b) The manner of recording the deposition.
I(3) Prior to the time set for the deposition, any other party may object to the perpetuation deposition. Such objection shall be governed by the standards of Rule 36 C. At any hearing on such an objection, the burden shall be on the party seeking perpetuation to show that: (a) the witness may be unavailable as defined in ORS 40.465 (1)(d) or (e) or 45.250 (2)(a) through (c); or (b) it would be an undue hardship on the witness to appear at the trial or hearing; or (c) other good cause exists for allowing the perpetuation. If no objection is filed, or if perpetuation is allowed, the testimony taken shall be admissible at any subsequent trial or hearing in the action, subject to the Oregon Evidence Code.
I(4) Any perpetuation deposition shall be taken not less than seven days before the trial or hearing on not less than 14 days’ notice. However, the court in which the action is pending may allow a shorter period for a perpetuation deposition before or during trial upon a showing of good cause.
I(5) To the extent that a discovery deposition is allowed by law, any party may conduct a discovery deposition of the witness prior to the perpetuation deposition.
I(6) The perpetuation examination shall proceed as set forth in section D of this rule. All objections to any testimony or evidence taken at the deposition shall be made at the time and noted upon the record. The court before which the testimony is offered shall rule on any objections before the testimony is offered. Any objections not made at the deposition shall be deemed waived.
Depositions Upon Written Questions (Oregon Rule of Civil Procedure 40)
A Serving questions; notice. Upon stipulation of the parties or leave of court for good cause shown, and after commencement of the action, any party may take the testimony of any person, including a party, by deposition upon written questions. The attendance of witnesses may be compelled by the use of subpoena as provided in Rule 55. The deposition of a person confined in prison may be taken only as provided in Rule 39 B.
A party desiring to take a deposition upon written questions shall serve them upon every other party with a notice stating (1) the name and address of the person who is to answer them, if known, and if the name is not known, a general description sufficient to identify such person or the particular class or group to which the person belongs, and (2) the name or descriptive title and address of the officer before whom the deposition is to be taken. A deposition upon written questions may be taken of a public or private corporation or a partnership or association or governmental agency in accordance with the provisions of Rule 39 C(6).
Within 30 days after the notice and written questions are served, a party may serve cross questions upon all other parties. Within 10 days after being served with cross questions, a party may serve redirect questions upon all other parties. Within 10 days after being served with redirect questions, a party may serve recross questions upon all other parties. The court may for cause shown enlarge or shorten the time.
B Officer to take responses and prepare record. A copy of the notice and copies of all questions served shall be delivered by the party taking the deposition to the officer designated in the notice, who shall proceed promptly, in the manner provided by Rule 39 D, F, and G, to take the testimony of the witness in response to the questions and to prepare, certify, and file or mail the deposition, attaching thereto the copy of the notice and the questions received by the officer. [CCP 12/2/78; amended by CCP 12/4/82]
Effect of Errors and Irregularities in Depositions (Oregon Rule of Civil Procedure 41)
A As to notice. All errors and irregularities in the notice for taking a deposition are waived unless written objection is promptly served upon the party giving the notice.
B As to disqualification of officer. Objection to taking a deposition because of disqualification of the officer administering the oath is waived unless made before the taking of the deposition begins or as soon thereafter as the disqualification becomes known or could be discovered with reasonable diligence.
C As to taking of deposition.
C(1) Objections to the competency of a witness or to the competency, relevancy, or materiality of testimony are not waived by failure to make them before or during the taking of the deposition, unless the ground of the objection is one which might have been obviated or removed if presented at that time.
C(2) Errors and irregularities occurring at the oral examination in the manner of taking the deposition, in the form of the questions or answers, in the oath or affirmation, or in the conduct of parties, and errors of any kind which might be obviated, removed, or cured if promptly presented, are waived unless seasonable objection thereto is made at the taking of the deposition.
C(3) Objections to the form of written questions submitted under Rule 40 are waived unless served in writing upon the party propounding them within the time allowed for serving the succeeding cross or other questions and within 20 days after service of the last questions authorized.
D As to completion and return of deposition. Errors and irregularities in the manner in which the testimony is transcribed or the deposition is prepared, signed, certified, sealed, endorsed, transmitted, filed, or otherwise dealt with under Rules 39 and 40 are waived unless a motion to suppress the deposition or some part thereof is made with reasonable promptness after such defect is, or with due diligence might have been, ascertained.