7 Ways to Prepare for a Deposition in Your Divorce Case
When you tell someone they need to sit for a deposition, they often panic and say they won’t do it.
Some respond by saying something like “Oh, that’ll be a perfect time to tell every detail of my life story and display my coin collection.” Both these reactions are perfectly understandable.
The idea of a deposition is stressful one. This stress is easily reduced by planning for the deposition, one step at a time.
First, it might be helpful to review some of the topics that might be covered. The topics may change based on the nature of your case.
1. Review General Topics
Here’s a list of possible topics you might cover in a deposition. It’s not a complete list of topics, but it’s a good starting point.
Try and refresh your memory about these topics before you go in.
1) Marital history.
2) Educational background.
3) Religious affiliation.
4) Employment history.
5) Reasons for changing employment.
6) Personal and family income.
7) Previous residences.
8) Any arrests or criminal convictions.
9) Driving record.
Here are some tips that can help you regardless of the nature of your case:
2. Answer Only the Question You’re Asked
The other party likely has an exhaustive list of questions they’d like to ask. Some will be specific and some, more open-ended. It’s imperative that you be mindful of what the question is. If you can answer the question with a “yes” or a “no,” that’s how you should answer. If the other side wants more info, they’ll ask. If you’re unsure of what a question means, ask them to explain or rephrase the question.
That brings me to the next point.
3. Don’t Guess
If you don’t know the answer to a question, say that! The last thing you want to do is assume and misstate a fact. The phrases “I don’t know” and “I don’t understand” are some of the most important phrases we can say in a deposition, let alone life in general.
4. It’s Not the Time to Volunteer
You might think it’s important to add background or details to some of the more open-ended questions. Try and refrain from doing that. Only volunteer extra information if it’s absolutely necessary to understanding your situation.
5. Balance Your Emotions
Don’t let me shock you with this one, but something is going to upset you during the deposition. It might be a question you didn’t expect or maybe the other party takes an accusatory and aggressive tone. If you feel stress coming to the surface, take a moment to breathe and relax. If it gets really bad, ask for a short break to collect your thoughts.
6. Treat Yourself
In the days leading up to the deposition, do what you need to make sure you’re comfortable. Not only do you need to be mentally comfortable (best done by reviewing possible questions and how you’ll answer), but you need to feel physically comfortable. Schedule time to get a haircut or a massage. (It might be good to review your answers while working out to simulate the increased heart rate you’re likely to encounter during the deposition.)
It’s also important to dress well for the deposition, but keep in mind that you want to be comfortable as well. (You might start sweating, so polyester might not be the best choice.) At a minimum, wear business casual. (But don’t go crazy and bust out a tuxedo. That may be a bit too much.)
7. Talk to your Attorney
If any of these topics fill you with fear, tell your attorney before the deposition. You can do a walkthrough and plan for different possible scenarios. Though you might not be able to cover every possible question, going over what you can will set you at ease.
You may disregard each item I’ve presented, but it’s imperative that you remain truthful and mindful at all times during a deposition. Doing those two things will greatly reduce the risk of something bad happening.
Matt Storrs is a divorce and child custody attorney at Hernandez Family Law, a firm that approaches divorce from a holistic perspective. Tune in to the firm’s weekly podcast, The Family Law Insider, for a regular dose of inspiration on relationships, self-improvement and living a happy life.