How Do You Prepare for a Deposition?
Depending on the contested nature of a divorce, depositions may ensue in order to establish the facts of your case under oath. A deposition is a sworn out-of-court testimony performed during the discovery process and subject to use should your case go to trial.
Attorneys perform depositions to:
- Find out what they can about you to be used in your case and at trial.
- Find evidence favorable to their case.
- Commit you to statements under oath.
- Assess your credibility and demeanor.
What You Should & Shouldn’t Do During a Deposition
It is important for your attorney to prepare you in advance for your deposition as the opposing counsel, your spouse’s attorney, may ask detailed, personal questions that may be used against your interest. If you are subject to a deposition, it is important for you to tell the truth but to be on guard. Here are some tips on how to provide a successful deposition:
1. Listen to Questions Carefully and Think Before Answering
As mentioned, it is important that you stay focused and vigilant during your deposition. Take a moment to thoughtfully consider an answer to opposing counsel’s question before answering aloud. Be sure that you fully understand the question.
Never provide a leading response. For example, if you are asked what happened after “that,” do not provide unnecessary information of what your idea of “that” might be. Ask for clarification. You do not want to give away irrelevant information that could be used against your interest.
Taking a moment before answering each question will also allow you to maintain the tempo of your facts.
2. Do Not Volunteer Information
A deposition is not the moment for you to prove your case. Stick to the script and only provide information that is asked of you. Providing too much information could in fact hurt your case. If the question is a “yes” or “no” question, then simply answer “yes” or “no.”
3. Do Not Guess When Responding to a Question
During a deposition, you may feel nervous or even pressured to always provide an answer. If you do not remember or do not have enough information to answer a question, then simply say so. In most cases, attorneys understand that there are limits to one’s recollection of information.
4. Stick to Your Answer
It is common for the opposing attorney to ask you questions in several different ways in an effort to manipulate a specific answer without you realizing it or strengthen a point in favor of their case. After considering the question carefully, ask yourself if the question is one that has been asked already in a different way. If the question sounds familiar, stick to your previous answer.
5. Read the Fine Print
Documents are subject to use during a deposition. If the opposing attorney presents you with documents and intends to ask you detailed questions about its contents, ensure that you are completely familiar with the document. If the attorney asks about a fact allegedly in the document, take the liberty to validate that the document actually states what opposing counsel suggests it says.
6. Review the Deposition Transcript
You have a right to read the transcript of your deposition prior to providing your signature. However, the court reporter is typically well-trusted and is expected to maintain accurate record of your deposition.
7. Dress and Act Appropriately for Court
Finally, dress well and maintain composure to effectively communicate to opposing counsel that you will be presentable and respectable in front of a judge. If your case is on its way to trial, obtain a copy of your deposition transcript and re-familiarize yourself with its contents and your answers so that you maintain consistency of your case in court.