During the time a divorce case is pending, many things are happening. However, several of them are very important, and giving your deposition is one of them. Therefore, it is very important that you and your lawyer take the necessary time in order to properly prepare for the deposition.
For starters you should know what depositions are all about. Your deposition will take place in the law office of your husband’s lawyer. Your husband will probably be present so that he can listen. A court reporter will take down your answers. Your husband’s attorney will ask you questions regarding all of the issues in the divorce. Your lawyer will be there also, and will object to any improper questions.
There are two main purposes for taking your deposition. First, your husband’s attorney wants to get information from you and get your views on the various issues in the case. Second, your deposition testimony cannot very easily be changed at trial. What you say at the deposition is what you will have to say at trial.
Illinois law allows the deposition to go on for three hours. Your husband’s lawyer can get more time, but he has to have court permission in order to do so.
You should meet with your lawyer in order to prepare for the deposition. Generally, it’s a good idea to meet a week or so ahead of time so that you will have a chance to gather any necessary information. Also, you can then practice at home for the deposition.
Your attorney should explain how the deposition works and what you might expect from your husband’s lawyer. Will he be easygoing or will he be aggressive. Your lawyer should also explain to you the proper technique for answering questions. For example, short answers which don’t volunteer extra information are best.
Most importantly, you and your lawyer should review the issues in the case. Your husband’s lawyer will ask you questions about these issues, and you need to be prepared. Your lawyer should discuss with you exactly how to answer these questions. You must always tell the truth, but there are different ways to answer questions and your lawyer should show you the best way. Be sure to cover everything: grounds for divorce, matters relating to the children such as custody and parenting time, your economic situation, your bank accounts and other assets, the house (do you want to keep it) and its value, your monthly expenses and any credit card charges or checks for things that might be out of the ordinary.
At the end of the deposition after the husband’s lawyer is done, your lawyer has a chance to ask you questions. You can use this opportunity to clarify or correct any of your earlier testimony.
Giving your deposition can be stressful so it’s very important that you and your lawyer take the time to meet and prepare. This is the key to performing well at your deposition.
Jay A. Frank is a senior divorce practitioner with Aronberg Goldgehn Davis & Garmisa in Chicago. He has been selected as one of the top family-law attorneys in Illinois. With more than 35 years of experience, he focuses his practice on all aspects of Illinois family law. He can be reached at (312) 828-9600. View his Divorce Magazine profile.