According to Black's Law Dictionary, a deposition is "a witness' out-of-court testimony that is reduced to writing (usually by a court reporter) for later use in court or for discovery purposes," in which the client is required to answer questions posed by the opposing party's divorce lawyer. Responses to those questions can later be used in court, and may also precipitate more digging into certain aspects of the case.
During the deposition, the opposing divorce attorney will attempt to gauge the client's credibility. The client's presentation, appearance and truthfulness will be scrutinized. This might sound intimidating, but with advanced preparation, it doesn’t have to be.
Here are some essential tips for getting through:
Before the Deposition
- PREPARATION WITH ATTORNEY. The client's divorce lawyer plays a crucial role in his or her success. Clients should meet with their attorney at least once to go over the rules of deposition and questions that will likely be asked. A practice session may be held, and the attorney might provide the client with written instructions on the deposition process. The client should review his or her attorney's instructions carefully well in advance of the deposition.
- DRESS AND GROOMING. As stated earlier, the opposing party's attorney will be observing to determine how the spouse will present in court. We advise our clients to dress in the same proper attire as they would for court. This serves to show the opposing party that the process is being taken seriously.
- FATIGUE AND ANXIETY MANAGEMENT. It is helpful to be well-rested before a deposition. Getting sufficient rest the night before a deposition will assist the client in managing his or her emotions. For the same reason, it is beneficial to have a light meal prior to being deposed.
During the deposition
- TELL THE TRUTH. The client does not benefit in any way by lying. When asked questions that are embarrassing, the client may understandably be tempted to be dishonest, but should always answer truthfully to the best of his or her knowledge.
- LISTEN CAREFULLY. It's much harder for a client to tell the truth when he or she hasn't really listened to the question. Anxiety and defensiveness can make active listening difficult. The client should strive to remain calm and listen attentively to each question posed.
- KEEP IT SIMPLE. While clients should always answer questions truthfully, they should not volunteer extraneous information. Long, rambling explanations are unnecessary. If a question calls for a simple "Yes" or "No" answer, clients are advised to stick to that.
- REFRAIN FROM JOKING. During a deposition, the court reporter or videographer records just about everything said. A wisecrack made in jest may cause chuckles when spoken, but will sound terrible when read out loud in court. Clients should keep in mind that anything they say may be used against them in a court of law.
The aforementioned are just a few points to keep in mind when a deposition is imminent. By working closely with their attorney throughout the process, Coral Springs and Parkland clients will survive a deposition – and might even conquer it.