A deposition is a legal process to obtain sworn testimony outside the courtroom. In a family law matter, a party to a lawsuit, expert witnesses, family, friends or others may deposed if they have knowledge or information relevant to a case.
The deposition provides an opportunity for counsel to glean the scope of a party’s or witness’s knowledge or anticipated testimony before trial which often reduces time spent in court. Because all statements are provided under oath, it is important to look at a deposition as if you were testifying in front of a judge in court.
If you are a party to a divorce and you have received a deposition notice, your attorney will work with you so you are prepared and know what to expect. Many answers to your questions may be answered here:
Who will be at my deposition? The deposition notice will provide details regarding where and when the deposition will take place. The people present at the deposition will likely include your attorney, your spouse and his or her attorney, and a court reporter. If there are children involved, an attorney to the child or a guardian ad litem may also be present.
What Happens at a Deposition? After taking the oath, you will be asked questions, most of which will come from opposing counsel, while the court reporter records all that is said. An attorney will not only seek to uncover information favorable to their case but gauge your credibility in the judge’s eyes in order to prepare for trial.
You have a duty to tell the truth, providing accurate and candid testimony, but understand opposing counsel is not on your side:
– It is important to listen to the question before providing an answer, allowing you to concentrate on the substance of your testimony and take charge of the tempo of the proceedings
– Limit your answer to the question, keeping your answers short and to the point. If asked a yes or no question, leave it at yes or no until asked another question
– Be sure to say that you do not understand a question if there is any confusion. You have the right to have a question repeated or rephrased in terms that can be clearly understood before answering
– It is ok to say you do not remember if you don’t or that you do not know the answer to a question or that you are not 100 percent sure. If pressed to provide approximations or estimations, say that you are doing so.
– If a document is used as evidence in questioning, make sure you are absolutely familiar with the content of the document before answering or that you are provided full opportunity to read the document beforehand.
– Don’t crack under the pressure of silence or subtle intimidation. Sometimes your answers will be greeted with skepticism – anything from scowl to a period of silence to prompt further explanation. When you have answered the question, simply wait for the next question to be asked.
– Expect the examiner to rephrase the question to see if your answers are consistent. If you answered the question already, stick with your answer and say no more.
– If you are instructed not to answer a question by your attorney, do not answer.
What type of questions can I expect? Questions in a family law case can cover a wide range of issues, including questions about the custody of a child or drug and alcohol use in a child custody case to financial inquiries in a marital property dispute – anything from A to Z if the attorney believes it is relevant to the case or can lead to more information. An experienced attorney can help you prepare for you deposition.
Contact an Experienced Family Law Attorney
If you have questions regarding preparing for a family law deposition, contact the Libertyville family law attorneys of Schlesinger & Strauss LLC for more information today at 847-680-4970.