What is a Deposition?
[D]uring a child custody case, the other side might ask you to give a deposition. A deposition is a recorded statement taken under oath, for use in court in place of the witness’s spoken testimony. An attorney isn’t required for this procedure, and if you are conducting your case on your own, you should consider the following tips.
Know going in that your answers can be admissible in court, and lying during a deposition carries similar penalties as lying under oath.
As with almost all other areas of a custody case, research will strengthen your position.
7 Advice Tips on Custody Depositions
1. Start with knowing your children’s lives. You may be asked the name of their pediatrician, coach or teacher. Not knowing such details will work to your opposition’s advantage.
2. Keep a record of times and activities you do with your children. Without that, the opposition may question your ability to engage in age-appropriate activities with your children. You can bring supporting material to the deposition so you don’t have to recall everything from memory.
3. Be prepared to discuss your finances. If child support is an issue, you will be asked detailed questions about all aspects of your financial life.
4. Treat the deposition as you would open court. Dress well, speak respectfully and come early. While displaying some emotions is appropriate at times, stay calm and collected.
5. If you don’t know the answer to a question, say so. It’s also okay to ask the attorney to repeat the question.
6. Answer with declarative ‘Yes’ or ‘No.’ The attorney will keep asking until a straight answer is given. Trying to avoid answering will only lengthen the deposition and make you look worse. Answer only what is asked and no more.
7. If you realize you made a mistake in the deposition, the best time to correct it is while the deposition is still in progress. Admit you made a mistake earlier, and now you remember the correct answer. Usually the court reporter will send you a copy of the transcript and have you sign it. If you remember something or want to add or make corrections that is usually a procedure to do so prior to signing.
Following these tips will greatly enhance your chances of getting custody of your child. As will almost all other aspects of your case, research will make you feel more confident in the deposition, and increase your chance of winning your case.
What other elements should you know regarding a deposition? How did your deposition go?
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