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In some divorce proceedings, especially those that have become contentious or that involve a large number of financial assets, you may be asked to sit for a deposition.
A deposition is your sworn, recorded testimony in your divorce case. In other words, it’s similar to if you would testify in court – and the penalties for knowingly lying are similar – but you’re giving your testimony in a lawyer’s office or somewhere that isn’t a courtroom.
Attorneys use depositions to predict how a testimony would proceed if you were to sit in front of a judge, so you want to do your best to be accurate and truthful.
If you’re preparing for a deposition in your divorce case, here are 9 tips to keep in mind:
Don’t Bring New Evidence
While big reveals of shocking new evidence may be interesting in courtroom shows, they’re not something that should happen in a real-world court proceeding.
If you have text messages, emails, documents, or other evidence that’s important to your case, make sure you provide them to your attorney as soon as possible, or at least a few days before your scheduled deposition. This gives your attorney a chance to look them over and, because they’re evidence in your case, send that information on to your spouse’s attorney as well for their review.
Protect Your Attorney-Client Privilege
When answering questions, do not start sentences with “on the advice of my lawyer.”
You have attorney-client privilege when it comes to anything you talk with your attorney about, and if you show your hand about advice your lawyer gave you you’ve just waived that privilege.
You may not like your ex, or their attorney, but you cannot show that on your face or in your behavior during your deposition.
Instead, do your best to keep a calm disposition and “poker face,” and respectfully answer questions when you’re asked. Do not argue with the other attorney, or interrupt them.
Don’t Volunteer More Information
Answer only the question asked of you, and do not volunteer more information unless your lawyer asks you to.
For example, if you are asked whether you made a specific charge to a joint credit card, simply answer “Yes” or “No.” Do not then launch into your reasoning for making that charge. Your lawyer will be able to ask you follow-up questions regarding your reasoning if they think it will be helpful to your case.
By volunteering extra information, you run the risk of giving your ex’s lawyer the upper hand.
Admit when You’re Unsure
It’s OK to not remember the correct answer to a question, especially if the answer requires you to recall a specific date, time, or place.
If you do not for sure remember the answer to a question you’re asked, say, “I don’t recall.” Guessing can only lead to throwing potential doubt on your testimony, which is never a good thing for your case.
Ask for Clarification
Sometimes, you may not fully understand the question being asked of you.
Instead of just launching in and answering the question you think you heard, ask the attorney to clarify their question before you proceed. It’s better to spend a little extra time making sure you fully understand the question than answering the question incorrectly.
Stop & Think
Don’t launch right into your answer as soon as the attorney has finished answering their question. Even if you’re completely, fully sure that the answer you’re providing is correct, it’s best to pause before you answer.
This pause helps you reduce any potential emotional response that could cloud your answer, and prevents you from speaking out of turn.
Don’t Try to Fill the Silence
Some attorneys love trying to throw witnesses off, so they let silence linger before they ask their next question. That attorney is banking on you getting uncomfortable and babbling, potentially volunteering new or incriminating information that they can use later.
Yes, a silence can be uncomfortable when you’re in the witness chair, but don’t be tempted to fill the silence. Once you have finished answering a question, stop speaking and do not begin speaking again until you are asked the next question. Ignore any attempts to get you to speak further, including a tilted head, raised eyebrows, or pointed stares.
Giving a deposition can be an unnerving experience, especially in an emotionally fraught situation such as a divorce. It can be difficult to calm yourself and relax when you’re answering questions, but relaxing is essential to a good deposition.
If you’re overly nervous and jumpy during your deposition, your body language could be interpreted as meaning you’re hiding something. Additionally, your nerves could lead you to overshare information or guess at the answer to a question.
Work with your attorney to prepare thoroughly for your deposition. Before you go in, practice some deep breathing or other relaxation techniques, and do your best to maintain your cool during your deposition.
Divorce Lawyer in Washington, D.C.
No two divorces are the same. But an experienced divorce attorney on your side can go a long way toward getting the result you deserve. At Lopez Law Firm, we work side-by-side with you through the whole divorce process, explaining every step of the way. Call today for a consultation!