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"I am going through an Illinois divorce, and the other lawyer has requested that I appear for my discovery deposition. What should I expect?"
If I was your divorce lawyer here is what I would tell you: A discovery deposition in simplest terms is question and answer session in which the opposing attorney has the opportunity to ask you questions about your divorce case.
One purpose for the opposing lawyer to take your deposition is to obtain information from you about the issues in your divorce. For example, if you have children, information related to their custody or visitation may be asked. Income, support or maintenance as well as family expenses, assets and debts are among the many subjects of deposition questions. The questions vary from case to case depending upon what is in dispute.
Remember: a deposition purpose may also be requested by the other lawyer to obtain admissions of facts from you.
That lawyer wants to get you to admit facts that the lawyer already knows but wants you to clearly admit so that no further proof is needed at a divorce trial. For example, if you admit that you are capable of working and need no support for yourself, the lawyer does not need to prove that are able to work from other witnesses.
Who is present at a divorce deposition?
Present are usually you and your lawyer Your spouse and his or her lawyer, a Court reporter is present who takes down your testimony in shorthand form. Very rarely discovery depositions in Illinois divorces are video recorded. You must be notified in advance if a deposition is to be video recorded.
The deposition usually begins by the other lawyer introducing himself. The court reporter then has you raise your right hand and swear under oath to tell the truth.
The questioning can then begin. Your lawyer may object to a question, so listen to the question carefully and speak slowly and clearly. Give your lawyer enough time before answering the question to make a verbal objection to the question if necessary.
Whats important for me to be aware of before the deposition begins?
It's important that you are aware of a few simple facts regarding divorce depositions in Illinois. Get prepared. Divorce cases are frequently won or lost by your testimony at your discovery deposition. So preparation is the key.
Meet with your lawyer well ahead of time and go over the questions that your lawyer believes you will be asked. An experienced divorce lawyer should be able to tell you about the subjects that will come up.
An experienced divorce lawyer can usually anticipate about 80 percent of the questions you will be asked. Frequently the Court reporter at your deposition will then be asked to transcribe or type up your deposition word for word including the questions asked of you and your answers.
Will my divorce Judge read my deposition if it is typed up?
While Illinois divorce Judges do not actually get to read your discovery deposition at the divorce trial, your deposition answer to a question cannot change at the divorce trial. If you do change your answer the other lawyer will try to "impeach you," that is to show that you are a liar since you gave a different answer to the same question at the deposition than the answer you gave at the divorce trial.
Will I get an opportunity to explain my answers more fully at the deposition by having my lawyer ask me questions too?
You could do that, but most experienced divorce lawyers do not do so. Since the Judge never reads the deposition transcript (typed up form) Your not explaining further at the deposition leaves many possible ways for you to explain your answer to the question at the divorce trial and gives the opposing lawyer less information to use against you.
Think of it this way. The less you say at your deposition the better. Once your try to explain yourself the other lawyer will ask you many more follow up questions that he or she may have never thought of without hearing your "further explanation."
Best practice: answer truthfully in as short an answer as possible since you do not want to open the door to the further questioning.
Divorce cases are, for the most part, won on the facts of the case and the impressions the parties make. At this stage, the impression or image that you want the other lawyer and the divorce Judge to see is that you are a truthful and fair person.
Contact a knowledgeable Hindsale divorce lawyer if you need help with your case. Call Illinois law firm Martoccio & Martoccio at 630-920-8855.