Depositions in Family Law Proceedings

What is a deposition?

If you’ve had your deposition noticed, it means that the other party (through his or her attorney) wants you to appear, be sworn in (the same oath you would give if you were sitting in a court room) and answer various questions while a stenographer (also known as court reporter) types down everything that is said from questions to answers and any objections that may be made by the respective attorneys. It gives the other side an opportunity (prior to a hearing or trial) to get various answers from the other side directly.

Why take a Deposition?

A deposition may be a great way to get certain questions answered without the necessity of a serving a bunch of written discovery. It may be help to just “cut to the chase” and get the answers directly from the other side. Further, you also seal the testimony of the other side because if the other side changes his or her testimony at the time of a hearing or trial, the deposition testimony can be used to impeach his or her credibility (meaning if they answered one way during a deposition but a different way at the time of a hearing or trial as to the same question, their credibility becomes at issue).

Is a Deposition Costly?

It can be depending on the length of the deposition. Not only do you have to pay for your attorney to prepare for the deposition and take the deposition, but the stenographer (or court reporter) will be paid for taking down the testimony and preparing the transcript depending on the length of the deposition, number of exhibits and number of pages of testimony that is transcribed (and also on whether or not it is an expedited or regular transcript preparation). However, compared to other forms of written discovery (which can be time-consuming), it can be cost-effective.

How Long Can a Deposition Go?

A deposition cannot exceed 7 hours under the current law; however, the Court can order it extended and the parties can stipulate (or agree) to it going longer than 7 hours. Most deposition do not take that long. If your attorney is competent and well prepared, most deposition can be done in about half that time (depending on the complexity of the other issues of course).

Am I required to Bring Anything to a Deposition?

You may be required to bring documentation to a deposition if you were served with a request to produce documentation at the time of the deposition (or otherwise known as a production demand). There are certain timing requirements that control on when such a request can be made of you. Also, there are certain deadlines whereby your attorney must object to the demands or risk waiving those objections.

Do I get to Review my Testimony?

Yes you do. You will get the opportunity to not only review your deposition testimony in the booklet known as a transcript, but you will have the opportunity to make changes to your deposition testimony on a form known as the errata sheet; however, keep in mind that any changes you make in various answers, especially if significant, can be commented on at the time of a hearing or trial when the testimony is being used, especially if it is a “yes” answer to a “no” answer or other significant change.

Will my Attorney be with me at the Deposition?

Competent counsel should always be present at a deposition. Don’t take the significance of a deposition for granted. The answers given at a deposition can have a great impact on the outcome of a case (it may even make or break a case). Like any other appearance you would make in your case or testimony you would give in Court, this is extremely important and worthy of your time and attention.

Whose Deposition can be Taken?

A deposition can be taken of any party, employers, family members, experts, and all other third parties who may be involved in the proceedings or whose involvement may be necessary to get certain questions answered.

How is a Deposition Transcript Used?

A deposition excerpt can be quoted or referenced in the various pleadings in the case and Courts usually take what the other side has stated in a deposition seriously (after all it is testimony under oath). Rarely if ever is the whole transcript utilized.