In its simplest form, a deposition is the giving of oral testimony under oath before trial. Depositions are conducted in front of a court reporter and will assist your attorney in the preparation for trial. The use of oral depositions is a standard procedure in family law cases for discovering relevant and material facts, determining the strategy of the case, and searching the concience of the person being deposed (called the deponent).
It is very important to take the deposition seriously. As a deponent, the attorney taking the deposition is searching for ways to discredit the deponent, obtain information, and obtain admissions. The defending attorney is seeking to avoid harmful admissions, present the facts in the best light possible, and to protect the deponent's creditability.
You should remember that the deposition is usually the first chance the opposing attorney has a chance to see you, so you must make a good impression, and treat the deposition as if you were appearing in court. You should do the following:
1. Be clean and wear neat, conservative clothing
2. Be respectful
3. Tell the truth to all questions asked
4. Speak clearly and loudly
5. Don't be afraid of the other lawyers
6. Never lose your temper
7. If you don't understand a question, ask that it be explained
8. Answer all questions directly, giving concise answers to the question, then stop talking
9. Never volunteer information. Wait until the question is asked - answer it and stop. If you can answer yes or no, do so and stop
10. Stick to the facts and testify to only that which you personally know, but don't be wishy-washy. Be positive and don't back down on your testimony as to the the things about which you are reasonably certain.
11. Testify only to the basic facts. Do not attempt to give opinions or estimates unless you have good reason
12. If you don't know the answer to a question, admit it. It is ok as long as you are being honest and straightforward in your testimony.
13. Don't try to memorize your story, just do so to the best of your ability
Source for Post: Family Law Depositions, John F. Nichols