Divorces can be complex matters, often times involving extensive discovery.1 One key to obtain information in divorces is by depositions. Depositions are unique in that they require you to actively participate with the attorneys. Depositions require a large amount of involvement on the part of the client, it is important to have a basic understanding of depositions and what to expect. In this blog, we provide five tips for a deposition in your divorce case.
Tell the Truth. While it may seem like a cliché, the first tip for a divorce litigant going into a deposition is to tell the truth. To start your deposition, a Court Reporter will swear you under oath. Therefore, providing false testimony during a deposition is the same as lying under oath at court and has the penalty of perjury.
Prepare in Advance. The importance of a divorce litigant preparing in advance of a deposition cannot be understated. If you, or someone you know, does not have an attorney and are preparing for a deposition, it may be a good idea to retain one. Before going to your deposition, prepare with, and without, your attorney. You should review any and all relevant documents, dates, etc. to help refresh your memory. Ask your attorney all questions you may have, and express any feelings of concern. While you won’t know the exact questions you will be asked, you and your attorney can go over some potential questions of what could be expected to be asked due to the nature of your case to help practice.
Answer Only the Question Asked of You. As a divorce litigant being deposed, your job during the deposition is not to tell your story, you will have your opportunity for that at another time—the divorce trial. Instead, your job is to answer the other party’s questions. As such, answer the question asked, no more, no less. Now, this is not to say you need to be rude to the other party, but just remember to be careful. Listen carefully to the question asked and answer that question only. The general rule to remember is do not volunteer any additional information.
Don’t Guess. Often times, divorce litigants feel they should know the answer to every question or remember every detail. Thus, many divorce litigants make the mistake of guessing when answering a question they are unsure of. Avoid this. When asked a question you do not know the answer to, it is perfectly okay to say, “I don’t remember” or “I don’t recall” or “I don’t know”. What a divorce litigant should not do is guess when responding to a question at a deposition. Your response should be limited to what you know, saw, heard, or did.
Stay Calm. Divorces are stressful times for everyone involved. Divorces are very personal, involving intimate details to one’s life. As such, there will be questions asked that may cause you to feel upset, or frustrated, or sad. While this is certainly understandable, try to remain calm, cool, and collected throughout your deposition. It is hard, but will be beneficial to you as opposing counsel will know you can retain your cool at trial. If you cannot, then you will probably blow it at trial and show the judge you cannot keep your temper under control. This impacts the entire case in a negative way.
Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. hopes this general background information allows you to be a more informed legal consumer to help you help your counsel to advocate for your objectives. The right case preparation through discovery and understanding of the process facilitates this. Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. advocates handle family law cases throughout the State. This blog is for general educational purposes. It is not a solicitation for services or legal advice. It is an advertisement.
- Discovery is a formal process between parties that involves exchanging information (such as witnesses, evidence, etc.) in preparation of a hearing or trial. The Discovery rules are found in trial rules 26 through 37.