A divorce deposition is a form of discovery. Discovery is the formal process by which you “discover” information relevant to the case. There are three forms of discovery in a Michigan divorce.
First, Interrogatories (think to interrogate) which are written questions which must be answered under oath and subject to the felony of perjury. Second, a Subpoena, which is a court order (typically signed by an attorney) which compels the production of documents or testimony and third, a deposition, which is live testimony conducted outside of court in the presence of a court reporter.
The other lawyer is not your friend.
A divorce deposition is a conversation, however, the lawyer is not your friend. In most conversations we want to be liked, however, in most conversations, you are not talking “under the penalty of perjury” which is a crime in Michigan. The lawyer will want to make you feel relaxed but he/she is not your friend. They have one goal in mind. To put you in a box and obtain evidence to help their client. When you engage in a conversation with someone, you let your guard down and often disclose more than what is asked.
Be prepared for your divorce deposition.
You should never go into a divorce deposition without first being prepared. Your lawyer should provide you with sample questions and explore your answers before the deposition. For questions regarding property, you should anticipate the questions and know the answers beforehand. If the case involves child custody, you should review the best interest of the child factors.
Don’t guess in a divorce deposition.
Your answers are being transcribed by a court reporter and will be relied upon by the Judge as being truthful. Therefore, if you do not understand a question, stop and ask for clarification rather than making a guess.
There are a lot of problems with not telling the truth and lying is a crime when you are under oath, which you are in a divorce deposition. One problem with lying is that lies are hard to remember. You may think you have out-smarted the lawyer asking you questions, and fibbed. It is not uncommon for a similar question to be asked at another time and you forgot about a lie (or worse told a different lie). Besides being criminal, you lose credibility. Your lawyer is there to protect you and will have an opportunity to object and ask you questions to clarify problems with your testimony.
Think before you answer a divorce deposition question.
When a question is asked in a divorce deposition, take a few seconds and think about how you can narrowly answer the question without providing information that was not asked, but may hurt your case. Avoid engaging in a conversation as that may hurt your case. and don’t volunteer information to clarify an issue. Your lawyer is there and can clarify a topic if necessary.
Stop talking if your lawyer places an objection on the record.
In a divorce deposition, the other lawyer may ask you questions regarding information that is not relevant or could expose you to other legal consequences. Therefore, if your lawyer places an objection, stop talking and wait for instructions from your lawyer.
About Findling Law
I have been exclusively practicing divorce and family law in Michigan for over two decades. The attorneys at Findling Law all share the core value of practicing law to help people navigate change in their lives, without compromising principles. We specialize in high socio-economic, high-profile and high-conflict cases, while also working with clients of all backgrounds. We recognize that the most important aspect of the practice of law is the application of the law to your specific circumstances.That is why we provide more free information on divorce and family law than any other Michigan law firm. We want to help you manage your situation. Allow our exceptional legal team to help you navigate the change in your life, without compromising principles.
By: Daniel Findling