5 Tips for Success in Your Deposition in a California Divorce Case

If you are anticipating a deposition in your divorce, you may be a little nervous about how to do your best in answering the questions. This article is part 1 of a two-part list.

This article will suggest strategies for success in your divorce deposition with ideas that were originally published here: https://natlawreview.com/article/help-how-do-i-prepare-divorce-deposition. See also https://www.americanbar.org/groups/government_public/publications/public-lawyer/2022-winter/effective-witness-preparation/

Prepare by reviewing documents prior to the deposition.

  • Prior to your deposition, you may want to review any documents that have already been filed to jog your memory about the details of events.

Plan to tell the truth.

  • Talk with your attorney before the deposition about how to handle bad facts. Some witnesses feel tempted to lie to cover up facts that are potentially harmful to the case, but your attorney likely has a plan already on how to handle those facts.
  • An article from Family Lawyer Magazine shared some helpful insight on what the author dubbed the “lying continuum”:
    • On the one hand, neither you nor your spouse is likely to go to jail for lying in a family law case.
    • On the other hand, lying in one area reduces your credibility in the case as a whole. The other side will be looking for evidence to show your lie, and you may get caught. Furthermore, the person that is lying often has a hard time keeping the story straight for the duration of the deposition or the case as a whole.
    • See https://familylawyermagazine.com/articles/preparing-for-deposition-what-client-needs-to-know/

Listen to the question.

  • Listen to the question that was asked and answer only that question. You do not have to volunteer information.
    • For example, if the attorney were to ask, “Do you have a watch?” and you answered, “Yes, it’s 10 am,” this would be an example of where you did not answer the question. The answer would be yes or no only.
  • You have many options on how to answer:
    • Yes, no, I don’t know, Can you explain the question, Can you explain this term? Etc.

Pause and think before answering.

  • Taking time to ponder your answer can be very useful during a deposition. It allows a second for your attorney to object to the question if that is appropriate. A common reaction to the stress of questioning is to try to answer quickly, but taking time to think through is usually a much better approach.

Don’t expect to win the other side over.

  • A common misconception with depositions is that this is your chance to win the other side over, so a witness may try to convince the opposing attorney of their position. This is typically a mistake. The opposing attorney’s job is to be a zealous advocate against you, so you can expect him or her to be incredulous of anything you say. Also, beware if the opposing counsel seems particularly nice, as they are not your friend and may want to trick you into talking more than you need to.

Contact an Experienced Divorce Attorney

At the Law Office of David Knecht, we have extensive experience in all aspects of family law. We will be by your side in all phases of your divorce process, including preparing for your deposition. Contact us today at 707-451-4502.