Generally defined, a deposition is “a formal, recorded, question and answer session which occurs under oath.” The deposition is a discovery tactic employed by attorneys in order to receive more detailed information from parties or witnesses, and allows them to preserve these facts and testimony for future use in trial. Therefore, your testimony and demeanor during these depositions can be critical to your case and therefore, you should adhere to the tips provided by your divorce attorney.
Prepare. Before any deposition, you will meet with your lawyer to discuss the process. You can be asked some sample questions, review important documents that you are likely to be asked about, and discuss answers to difficult questions. Some find it helpful to review their financial documents, prior answers to interrogatories, and any other records that draw upon claims in their case. Being able to accurately recall the information will greatly aid your responses and ease your nerves during this testimony.
Tell the Truth. The first step in a deposition is for the court reporter to place you under oath. This means that providing any false testimony under oath can result in the same punishment as perjury in court. You are required to tell the truth in your deposition and it is likely that the question being asked of you, the examiner already knows the accurate response. Therefore, your false responses will be discovered and can be used against you. Honesty is crucial. Even if your honest answer hurts your case, your attorney will be able to depose you and rehabilitate your response. Do not let the fear of hurting your case prevent you from being truthful.
Listen and Answer Only the Question Asked. A crucial point to the deposition process is listening to the examiner. When they prompt you with a question, listen, wait, and take time to respond. Do not answer any question your examiner has not asked you. In most cases, it is encouraged to respond with a simple yes or no. It is not your responsibility to supplement your answers and a deposition is not a conversation between the parties. However, it is important to listen intently to the question being asked so that the examiner does not attribute specific claims to you or recite incorrect information.
Don’t Guess. When asked a question, it is imperative for both truthfulness and accuracy that you do not guess as to your response. Your response should only be limited to what you personally know with 100% accuracy. Do not provide absolute answers that may not be accurate or conclusions and opinions. Speculative answers are breeding ground for lawyers to formulate conclusions that aid their case. Appropriate responses to deposition questions do include “I do not know, or recall.” It is ok that you do not know the answer to every question asked, if the examiner has information stating your knowledge as to the fact, they will provide you with documentation to review to supplement your response. Further, if you do not understand the question being asked, do not guess. It is appropriate to ask for the question to be rephrased or state that you do not understand. Assuming a question may provide the examiner with information they did not ask for and you did not intend to provide.
Depositions can be overwhelming if you have no prior knowledge or experience. Therefore, your attorney has provided some useful tips for the deposition process and is able to answer any further questions regarding this testimony. Contact your lawyer today to discuss in detail your specific case and deposition testimony.
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