If you are involved in a full-fledged litigated divorce case, you may be subjected to a deposition by the opposing counsel. This can be a nerve-wracking, anxious time for many, since the opposing counsel will often ask uncomfortable questions. The proper purpose of a deposition is to gather background and evidence to help the lawyers prepare your case for trial. However, the lawyers will also try to get whatever helpful admissions are possible from the other side (you) which often leads to the anxiety many people feel during a deposition.
During a deposition, you are under oath, just as you would be during testimony in a courtroom. The deposition, however, is typically held in a lawyer's office, not the courtroom. Depositions may be videotaped and/or tape recorded, and can last anywhere from a few hours to several days, depending on the subject matter that is covered. Your attorney is allowed to be present during a deposition, and should be, since they can ensure the opposing party’s lawyer doesn’t ask for information to which they are not entitled and that questions are respectful and properly formed.
Here are our top 10 tips to help you get through your deposition:
- Request time with your attorney prior to the deposition so they can help you prepare.
- Don't bring any pretrial discovery documents to the deposition unless you are instructed by your attorney to do so.
- Review any applicable pretrial discovery documents. You will want to specifically review how you responded to questions in the past. This is important because you may be asked to answer the same questions again and you want to remain consistent.
- Dress appropriately. We suggest you dress conservatively, and make sure your clothes are clean and pressed. It may sound obvious, but make sure your hair is washed and neatly styled or combed, and men should shave.
- Have an agreeable demeanor. Being difficult often makes you look like you have something to hide, even if you don't.
- Answer truthfully. Remember you are under oath so it is imperative to be truthful at all times.
- Keep your answers short and succinct. If you are asked a yes or no question, answer with only a yes or no. Don't volunteer information and try to keep your answers as short as possible.
- Watch your body language. This is especially important if you are being videotaped. Don't fidget, wring your hands, play with your hair, etc. Always look the opposing counsel in the eye when answering his/her question.
- Take time to think. Don't answer a question immediately after it has been answered. Taking a few moments to formulate your answer will help you remain calm and poised.
- Ask for clarification. If you don't understand a question, don't answer it! Instead, ask the opposing counsel to rephrase the question.
Though a deposition may sound scary, following these tips will help you prepare. Being prepared will help reduce your anxiety level during the deposition and help you portray yourself in the best light possible.