During a divorce case, you may be requested to appear at a deposition. While this experience may seem intimidating at first, keep in mind that it is a standard part of the legal process. In addition, it is likely that if you have to submit to a deposition, so will your former spouse.
A successful deposition depends on thorough preparation. Before you attend a deposition, learn more about what you can expect and what you will be asked.
What Is A Deposition?
A deposition is sort of like an interview with your spouse’s attorney. Depositions are conducted under oath, which means that your testimony must be truthful and your answers can be used against you during your divorce case.
During the deposition, your attorney will be present as the opposing attorney asks you questions. Usually, depositions are conducted when your spouse’s attorney needs more information about a certain issue. For example, if it is unclear how much money a person actually makes or what kind of property a person owns, a deposition may be scheduled so that the other side of your divorce case can get a better understanding of his or her financial state.
What Happens During a Deposition?
During a deposition, you and your attorney will go to the previously agreed upon meeting place. This could be a conference room at an attorney’s office, or a neutral location like a court reporter’s office. The deposition will be attended by a court reporter, who will transcribe everything that is said during the deposition. Occasionally, a deposition will also be videotaped.
Initially, you will be asked a series of introductory questions, which may include asking you to state your full name, address, and employment history. These questions will establish your background information for the record.
After the background questions, the deposition may turn to questions relating to finances, custody disputes, or any other information that is pertinent to the divorce case. For instance, if your spouse believes that you are an unfit parent and should not receive custody or visitation with the children, you may be asked questions about your personal or sexual relationships, drug or alcohol use, or any history of violence.
Depending on the issues in the case, these questions may feel very personal or intrusive. In most cases, nearly all questions will be allowed, and you will have to answer them even if they make you uncomfortable. In some instances, you or your attorney may object to the questions, and a judge could be asked to decide if you need to answer.
Preparing for a Deposition
The questions in a deposition are often designed to trick the person being deposed. The attorney asking the questions may try to lull you into a false sense of security by having a congenial conversation or speaking in a friendly tone. While there is no need for depositions to be hostile, you should be aware that the questions asked in a deposition are designed to get you to agree with or admit to things that will hurt your case.
Even though you will need to answer just about every question and have an obligation to answer truthfully, there is no need to provide your former spouse’s attorney with more information than is requested. Before your deposition, your attorney will prepare you for questions that will likely be asked. Being prepared can keep you from panicking when you are asked about sensitive subjects.
During your deposition, make sure to listen to each question carefully and only answer what is asked. Take your time before answering, and try to formulate clear and concise answers. Do not give more information than is necessary, and resist the urge to explain away any unseemly behaviors. Finally, if you don’t know the answer to a questions, then tell the person asking that you either don’t know or don’t remember—do not guess at the answer. If you can refresh your memory by looking at certain documents or your calendar, then say so.
Always Have an Attorney Present
If you are going to be deposed, it is important to speak with your attorney. By preparing for the deposition with skilled legal help, you are less likely to inadvertently say something which may hurt your case.
At Pacific Northwest Family Law, our attorneys help people just like you every day. To learn more about how depositions work, or to schedule an appointment with our office, call 509-572-3700 today.