Preparing For a Deposition in Your Divorce Case: Best and Worst Practices

A crucial discovery tool, deposition allows your soon-to-be ex and his counsel to preview your testimony. The deposing attorney asks specific questions while a certified reporter records responses and attorney objections in a written transcript. The following suggestions can help you make the most of the deposition process:

Apply the Same Vigilance You’d Use to Prep a Job Interview
You wouldn’t walk into an interview for your dream job with no understanding of your skills, your professional history or how you can benefit your prospective employer. You’d look up, rehearse and think through contingencies. You need similar due diligence when preparing for your deposition. The stakes are high. The process could influence everything from asset division to child custody.

If necessary, refresh essentials, such as your children’s best friends’ names and their grades in school; it won’t look good if you don’t know the answers to such basic questions. You might even record a mock deposition and study your body language to determine whether your gestures or eye contact (or lack thereof) are problematic.

Maintain Your Integrity
Expect the opposing side to research all aspects of your case, including your finances, your conduct as a parent and much more. Your attorney can show you how to phrase embarrassing or potentially harmful revelations strategically—without accidentally revealing more than you must or coming across like you have something to hide.

Develop a Battle Plan to Tackle Tricky Questions
Minimize spontaneity. If you give a poorly constructed answer, your words could later be used against you. For instance, “I do not remember” can be an excellent alternative to “I don’t know” to a tough question that genuinely leaves you stumped. The former response allows your attorney to trigger your memory later via relevant documents. Remember that what you say in the deposition should be consistent with what you anticipate saying at trial on the witness stand.

Slow Down and Breathe
The opposing counsel may try to get you into a rhythm of answering questions. The goal is to let your guard down and induce mistakes. If you feel yourself playing into this strategy, take a deep breath and stop talking for a moment. Think through each answer carefully, no matter how simple the question may seem.

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