Preparing for A Divorce Deposition
When you are in the process of going through a divorce you may receive a notice that your deposition will be taken by your spouse’s attorney. Lawyers take depositions in order to discover information, find out more about what a potential witness might say, and preserve testimony for trial. This can not only help them with evidence, but also potentially gather statements that can be used against your interest and credibility. It is very important that you work with your attorney and prepare for the divorce deposition, as preparation is key for these depositions. You never want to go in without knowing what to expect and having practiced.
Duration, Those Present, & Formalities
Divorce depositions are usually around three hours long (although they depend on the specific circumstances of the divorce) and include your attorney, your spouse’s attorney, and the court reporter to record answers word-by-word. Your spouse may also be present, as well as any others that are relevant to the case; for example, a Guardian Ad Litem or child representative. Judges are not present and will not review the deposition transcript unless an attorney calls on them to do so.
As the procedure begins, you are asked to use your right hand to swear an oath and you will then sit down and be asked questions by the attorneys, most-all of which will come from your spouse’s attorney. The results of the session will be a transcript typed out by the court reporter, which you will be allowed to review, and which can be used during trial.
You should also know that this is a formal and important process, and most attorneys are very skilled at taking depositions and how to extract what they want out of the witness. Below are some helpful tips to keep in mind:
Take Your Time – Pause Before You Answer
Always pause, think and take your time before answering. You are not under any time constraints or rush to answer. It is better if you carefully listen to the question and concentrate on each word before you answer.
To this end, know that it is also possible that your attorney may object to certain questions. As a result, you also want to pause before providing an answer in order to give your attorney a chance to provide that objection. It is entirely possible that you will be expected to still answer the question, but it is important to still provide an opportunity for the court reporter to record that objection made first.
Only Answer the Question Asked
Make sure that you only answer the question asked and do not offer any extra information. You want to make sure that you concentrate on the substance of the information you are providing as opposed to being a helpful witness. It is not your job to be helpful to the attorney asking the questions; simply keep your answers short and to the point.
Know that some attorneys have particular techniques to try and obtain additional information from witnesses, such as giving them the silent treatment. Do not be tempted to fill this silence with words. Some attorneys may instead continue to ask you the same question in different ways; know that they may simply be trying to elicit a different answer or extract more information from you, and do not be afraid to stick to your first answer.
Feel Free To Indicate That You Do Not Understand The Question, Do Not Remember, Or Do Not Know
Also feel free to ask for clarification if you do not understand the question. It is up to the attorney to ensure that their question is unambiguous, and it is not your job to help them. Do not provide a conditional answer (for example, “if you mean x, then y,”), but simply indicate that you do not understand the question. If you do not remember or do not know, these are completely acceptable answers as well. It is not a good idea to guess the answer.
When You Are Questioned About Particular Documents
If a question involves examining documents, know that this is a very important part of the deposition and you need to very closely read the fine print. Never testify about the content of a document you are not completely familiar with unless it is right in front of you and you have been provided with a full and complete opportunity to read it. Always check the document before answering if the attorney is trying to suggest that the document states something in particular.
Contact Our Florida Divorce Attorneys for Help
If you need assistance with any family law issue, our experienced Tampa divorce attorneys can help. Contact HD Law Partners today to schedule a consultation.