Questions in a deposition may cover a broad range of topics including your education, work, income, and family. The attorney is allowed to ask anything that is reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence, even if the answer may ultimately be inadmissible at trial. If you are unsure whether or not to answer a question, look to your attorney for advice.
Your attorney may object to inappropriate questions. If there is an objection, say nothing until the attorneys discuss the objection. You will be directed whether to answer.
Remember the following advice when answering questions during your deposition:
- Never state facts that you do not know. If you do not know an answer to a question, say so.
- Never attempt to explain or justify your answer. You are there to give the facts as you know them. You are not supposed to apologize or attempt to justify those facts.
- Only give the information that you have readily at hand. Do not promise to get information that you don’t have readily at hand, unless your attorney advises it.
- Do not, without your counsel’s request, reach into your pocket for a driver’s license, Social Security card, or other documents. The discovery deposition purpose is to elicit facts that you know. Unless you have been served with a subpoena that directs you to bring certain documents to the deposition, you are not required to bring or produce anything while you are testifying.
- Do not let the opposing attorney get you angry or excited. Under no circumstances should you argue with the opposing attorney.
- If your attorney begins to speak, stop whatever answer you may be giving and allow your attorney to make his or her statement. If your attorney tells you not to answer a question, then you should refuse to do so.
- You may take your time in answering a question. Remember, the deposition does not show the length of time you took to answer a question.
- Do not joke during a deposition. The humor may not be apparent in the transcript.
- Do not volunteer any facts not requested by a question.
- Answer truthfully.
- After the deposition is over, do not chat with your spouse or your spouse’s attorney. Remember, the other attorney does not represent your interests. Do not let a friendly manner cause you to drop your guard.
The bottom line is to be prepared and to follow your attorney’s instructions to the letter. The above guidelines are just that, guidelines. Your attorney knows the specifics of your case, and you should follow his or her direction prior to and during the deposition.
For more information contact Attorney Linda S. Vanden Heuvel 1-800-805-1976, author of Divorce in Wisconsin, The Legal Process, Your Rights, and What to Expect.