Depositions: Discovery in Virginia Divorce
A deposition is a face-to-face discovery tool that isn’t normally used that often in Virginia divorce cases. It can be very valuable under the right circumstances, but it is also very time consuming and, therefore, expensive.
What is a deposition?
You’ve probably seen a deposition on TV. In a deposition, both sides appear with their attorneys and a court reporter. It is the court reporter’s job to take down every single word that is said in the room, and the attorneys can order the transcript of the deposition later on. During a deposition, one side asks the other side questions—for hours at a time. It is not uncommon for a deposition to last all day, so it takes a lot of time for an attorney to prepare ahead of time.
Sometimes, depositions are held in an attorney’s office, and sometimes we just use a room at the courthouse. They’re done in a relatively formal setting, and you should dress just like you’re going to court. For more information on what to wear and how to behave in court, click here.
What if he doesn’t tell the truth?
If you’re answering questions at a deposition, you’re under oath, which means that you essentially promise to tell the truth. What you’ve said is admissible in court later, and you know that there will be a record of exactly what you’ve said—because that’s the whole point of having a court reporter. Not only does that mean that if you (or your husband) fail to tell the truth that you could be convicted of perjury, but it also means that the judge will think you’re a liar—and, trust me, that can have a terrible impact on the outcome of your case. There are very few things a judge hates more than a liar. (Think about it: if you had to make decisions that shaped the outcome of people’s lives forever, wouldn’t you be angry if someone came in your courtroom and told you things that weren’t true?)
Will I have a deposition in my case?
Depositions are used in all kinds of cases, and are not exclusive to family law. We only use them rarely in family law, mostly because they’re incredibly expensive. We do use them occasionally, for all sorts of reasons—sometimes to determine income, and sometimes to figure out more information relating to the fault-based grounds we’ve alleged to file the divorce (like adultery, abandonment, desertion, and so on).
Your Virginia divorce attorney will help you decide whether you need a deposition in your case.