Most cases, including divorce and child custody, go through a process referred to as “discovery.” Discovery is how attorneys find out the evidence the other side has, witnesses they intend to call, documents in their possession, and other similar issues. There are many types of discovery, many of which involve written requests for information or documents. Depositions, however, are not just written questions or requests. A deposition is the process of giving sworn testimony, in person. This typically means that you, your lawyer, the other lawyer, and probably the other party will all gather together to give both lawyers the chance to question the other person. There will be a court reporter present to record the answers that are given. The testimony given that day will be under oath, and your answers can be brought up at trial if you change your story or position.
The big advantage to a deposition is that it allows your attorney to ask questions in real-time. Your attorney will be able to observe the reaction of the witness. It also allows your attorney to ask follow up questions, and really try to dig to the bottom of the issues. Your attorney can also ask for documents to be produced in association with the answers. For example, if the person being questioned discloses the existence of a bank account, your attorney can ask that copies of the account statements be produced within thirty days.
Depositions can also be used to question potential witnesses. This is often done in cases where expert testimony will be used at trial. In custody cases, this is frequently the therapist for the child or other professional who can testify to what is in the child’s best interest.
The main draw back to a deposition is the expense. Depositions can get expensive because you will have to pay your attorney for his or her time to prepare as well as the time to be present during the depositions. The court reporter will also need to be paid for his or her time to be present, and if you want to order a copy of the transcript for the day, that will also have to be paid for. It is therefore important to talk with your attorney and balance the pros and cons before deciding to conduct a deposition. While they can be very useful tools, the expense sometimes outweighs any potential benefits.
For more information on depositions and whether it would be helpful in your case, contact us at (732) 529-6937. We can answer your questions about depositions, and help you understand what to expect, and whether depositions could help you with your divorce.