Tips on Giving a Deposition for a Divorce

By Heather Frances J.D.

Divorce cases can be much like other civil lawsuits, and depositions can be used in divorces like they are in other cases. A deposition is testimony given before trial, usually recorded in a transcript or by video. Lawyers from both sides get to ask questions to gather evidence to help prepare for trial, and answers are given under oath. Thus, depositions can be as important as testimony given in the courtroom.

Documents and Disclosure

Documents can help you testify by reminding you of facts when you get nervous or can't remember certain details. Thus, you may be tempted to bring all of your documentary evidence with you to your deposition. However, if you have a lawyer, she may not want the other side to have access to everything you have, so you may want to discuss with your lawyer beforehand what you want to bring. While testifying, you generally should not disclose any of your lawyer's strategies in your divorce or anything your lawyer has told you. This can compromise your case, and even the court cannot force you to disclose what you discuss with your lawyer.

Demeanor

Dressing appropriately can make you more credible and feel more confident when testifying. Conservative, professional dress is typically appropriate for a deposition. In addition to looking polished, you must maintain an agreeable, calm demeanor whenever possible. You cannot win your case in a deposition, but being difficult or getting angry can hurt your case. Such behavior can make you look like you have something to hide. If you lose your temper, you may also say something you don't really mean.

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Answers

Since you are under oath throughout a deposition, you must answer each question truthfully. However, your lawyer will likely advise you to keep your answers short, answering with a simple yes or no when possible. You may want to avoid volunteering information that isn't asked since such extra information can be misused or open a can of worms you didn't intend to open. Your attorney can help you stay on track by objecting to questions that are inappropriate. Generally, you should stop talking as soon as your attorney objects to a question. After an objection, your attorney may allow you to continue answering or ask the other side to move on to other questions.

Ask Questions If Needed

If you do not understand a question, your answer may be inaccurate or misleading. However, you can ask the person questioning you to clarify the question or rephrase it another way to be sure you understand what is being asked. Before you answer a question, take time to think about your answer. If your deposition is being videotaped, excessive delays can make it look like you have something to hide, but it is important to make sure you are saying exactly what you mean.

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How to Answer Divorce Interrogatories

References

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