If you are going through a divorce, chances are that your spouse's attorney may request a deposition. A deposition has two purposes. The first is to gather information that could help them with their case. The second is to obtain information under oath that could possibly be used against you later in court to impeach your testimony. While this sounds intimidating, with a little help and preparation, you can get through your deposition successfully.
Divorce depositions are generally held in an office or formal setting. You and your attorney and your spouse and his or her attorney as well as a court reporter will be present. The court reporter will have you swear to tell the truth and your spouse's attorney will begin the questioning you with the court reporter keeping a record of everything said. Your attorney will be able to give you advice about answering questions. Under Texas law, you can’t not answer a question no matter how odd or objectionable it is. Other people may be deposed to answer questions as well, people who have information relevant to the case such as family members, friends, business associates, or, if you have children, there may be teachers, daycare workers, or counselors. Boyfriends and girlfriends can also be deposed to prove adultery
Because you are under oath, your spouse's attorney may use the deposition to gather material your spouse may not have had access to during the marriage such as financial information. They may think you are hiding assets or withholding business interests. In this case, they may use the deposition to try to intimidate you into making statements that don't match information you had given earlier. They may also show you documents and ask you questions about them.
Here are a few things to remember that will help you keep calm during the questioning. Understand that the questions the attorney will ask will be short and open ended. That means you may answer them in just a few words, or you may ramble on aimlessly. You may answer the question “What is your overall health?” with “Good” or with a detailed description of your seasonal allergies and arthritis. The questioning attorney is hoping you will have “diarrhea of the mouth” and say things that spur new questions. The more information you give, the more they will have to use later. Make them work for it. This is why preparation is key. Your attorney can assist you by asking you sample questions before the deposition so you will know what to expect and practice how to respond in a way that makes you feel more confident. Watching YouTube videos is also helpful.
The questioning attorney may ask you questions in a rapid-fire manner without giving you time to think. Just as with the open-ended questions, you need to be careful about how much information you provide. Don't be bullied! Take your time. Listen to the question. Ask him or her to repeat the question if you don’t understand and think before you answer. The attorney may ask the same question in different ways in order to confuse you or trip you up. If you need to, ask him or her to clarify the question. You have the right to do this, and it slows the questioning down a little, giving you a chance to consider your answer.
Once you have given a short, concise answer, don't say anything else. One trick the questioning attorney may use is to wait silently after you've given your answer. By watching you intently, or waiting you out, they hope to shake your confidence and get you to add more information to your answer. Stick to your guns! You've answered the question. Don't say anymore.
In the end, the most important thing to remember about a deposition is to tell the truth. Don't try to second guess any questions. Do this, and you and your attorney can handle whatever the outcome might be.