Contested Divorce and Family Law – Tips for the Deposition Process
Attending a deposition can be nerve-wracking for many people. The process can pry into your personal life through intimate and tough questions, but if you are familiar with the documents of your case and have prepared with your attorney, you will feel more at ease.
Here are some general tips on how to prepare as well as some do’s and don’ts that will help you make the most of the deposition:
• Give precise answers – Do not go into details unless that is asked of you. If you are asked questions about your earnings, give precise dollar amounts, not explanations of why that amount was so.
• Prepare – You should be familiar with all of the documents that will be used in the proceedings, so be sure to take time to go over them before you attend your deposition. You can even ask your lawyer to stage a mock questioning with you; many people are not used to being asked highly specific, personal questions and can be intimidated by the process if they are not ready for what it entails.
• Tell the truth – You will be sworn to tell the truth before the process begins, and…
• Anything you say can and will be used against you – You are not being asked questions to help your case. Thus, anything you say can help your spouse or hurt you. It is best to give short, truthful answers that wholly answer what is being asked of you but do not go into further detail. Yes or no answers are fine as long as they ask the question.
• Never say “I Don’t Remember” if you can remember something – When you say “I don’t remember” or “I don’t know,” you are giving your spouse the chance to remember and share his or her side of the story. Even if that story is factually incorrect, who will believe you once you have already stated that you could not remember?
• If you don’t know what is being asked of you, ask for clarification – Often times, technical terminology will be used. If you do not understand a word or question, ask the lawyer to repeat and explain it. It is much better to do this than answer a question you are not being asked.
• If your lawyer is sitting quietly, that’s ok – The role of your lawyer at the deposition is mainly to ensure that you are not being asked questions that are inappropriate while you are the one being questioned. They will not help you answer the questions, so don’t panic if they seem to be doing nothing but sitting still and listening.
• The deposition is being recorded – Do not answer before a question has been asked in its entirety and do speak loudly and clearly so that everything can be properly recorded by the stenographer.
• Take it seriously – Although a deposition is not a trial, your behavior and appearance is important. The opposing counsel will take these factors as an indication of how you will act in court, and if you act unfavorably, it could eventually result in a less favorable settlement from the other side.