You've probably heard the term deposition before, but what do you need to know about Family Court depositions? What are they? Will you have to participate in one? Why are they done? While depositions are common many different kinds of cases, they are not necessary in every Family Court case.
What are depositions?
Depositions are a form of discovery (along with others including interrogatories, requests for production of documents, and requests for admission) and one of several tools that attorneys can use to gather information.
In a deposition, the attorney places a witness (who may or may not be a party to the case) under oath and asks questions that are relevant to the case. It is extremely important to note that testimony obtained at a deposition can be introduced later at trial to impeach a witness if he changes his story or in lieu of live court testimony (in limited circumstances).
Who is present during a deposition?
If you are being deposed, there is no reason to fear a large audience. At the overwhelming majority of depositions, the only people present are the parties to the case, their lawyers, and a court reporter, who transcribes everything that is said to make a record of the proceedings. In certain cases, expert witnesses may attend the deposition (in person or electronically) to observe and/or to assist the attorney with covering certain complex subject matter.
What information is gathered during a deposition?
The topics covered in a deposition can include anything related to the case – finances, child custody and visitation, reasons for the dissolution of the marriage, or any other subject. Though they can sometimes get heated, most depositions start with basic general questions, including names, education, and employment history.
The specific topics covered and the order in which that occurs will vary widely from attorney to attorney, as everyone has their own unique strategy. Some attorneys cover the facts in chronological order as they occurred, others prefer to address them by topic or subject matter, and others jump around in an effort to keep the witness off guard. The questions can be quite broad or very specific – it all depends on the factors in your particular case.