If you are going to be deposed by an opposing attorney in your divorce case, knowing what to expect is half the battle. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when preparing for a deposition.
Understanding What Takes Place
At your deposition the opposing attorney will ask you questions, which you will answer under oath and in front of a court reporter. Your own lawyer and your spouse will also be present.
A written transcript of the questions and answers will be prepared by the court reporter and may be used as an exhibit if your case proceeds to trial.
Why a Deposition Matters
The purpose of a deposition is for the opposing attorney to learn what you will say in court about the facts of the case and to assess what type of witness you make. Are you believable? Are you easily confused? Can you be coerced into angry outbursts?
Further, if you say something different at trial than you did in your deposition, the opposing attorney will make sure the judge knows you have done so, arguing that your statements cannot be believed. Due to this, it is important that you put your best foot forward during a deposition.
- Tell the absolute truth. Do not deviate from the truth even if you think it might hurt your case.
- Answer only what you are asked. Do not think aloud, give a narrative, or volunteer information.
- Answer yes or no questions with a “yes” or “no” only. If you do not know or cannot recall the answer to a question, say so.
- Repeat the question silently to yourself before answering it so you can focus on what information is directly responsive to the question. Ask the opposing attorney to reword the question if you do not understand it or cannot answer it clearly.
- Do not speak over the attorney asking the questions and do not speak too fast.
- Do not try to convince the opposing attorney you are right. If you do so, you will likely violate the rule of thumb to answer only what is asked of you. In any event, you will not convince the opposing attorney of anything.
- Remain calm and never raise your voice.
Rely on Your Lawyer
During your deposition, your attorney might object to something the other attorney has asked. Unless instructed not to do so, you still need to answer the question. Your attorney’s objection to the question will be noted in the transcript and may provide a basis for a future objection in court to the question and/or answer.
Understand that the range of questions that can be asked in a deposition is very broad and thus you may be answering questions you do not feel are relevant. You may want to have a practice session with your attorney before your deposition, ensuring you are properly prepared and comfortable following the above best practices. Adhering to them will allow your deposition to move quickly, will aid you if you must proceed to trial, and may even help you settle your case.
Contact us at Hallier Lawrence for more information on how to effectively prepare for a deposition.