Litigation that involves your children is not something anyone wants to be involved in; however, when parents of a minor child cannot reach an amicable out of court agreement to a contested issue, litigation becomes necessary. In a divorce, for example, many of the issues that must be resolved directly impact the children. Even after a divorce is finalized, the issue of conservatorship and/or possession and access of the children may be revisited. If you are involved in custody litigation of any kind, you may be required to participate in a deposition. So you will have some idea what to expect, the child custody attorneys at The Law Office of Jon R. Boyd prepare you for a deposition.
Whether you are involved in an initial divorce or a post-divorce modification of custody, the litigation process follows some of the same basic steps. In the case of a divorce, one spouse initiates the divorce process by filing a petition for dissolution or divorce which is then served on the other spouse. In the case of a desire to change conservatorship (custody) post-divorce, one party files a petition to modify which is then served on the other party. In both situations, the responding party has a short period of time within which a written response must be filed. After that, the parties typically try to reach a mutually agreeable resolution. If an agreement is reached, the parties submit the agreement in writing to the court for approval. If the parties are unable to resolve the issue(s) quickly and amicably, the next step in the litigation process is the “discovery” process.
The discovery process allows the parties to litigation the opportunity to request various types of information that is relevant to the issues involved in the litigation from the other party. For example, in a divorce the parties might want tax returns and financial statements to help determine what an equitable division of property would be. There are four basic discovery “tools” used to gather the information sought, including:
Interrogatories — written questions sent to the opposing party that must be answered truthfully, under penalty of perjury, and may call for lengthy responses.
Request for Admissions of Fact — a list of questions asking the opposing party to admit or deny the truth of the statement.
Request for Production of Documents — asks the opposing party to produce copies of requested documents.
Deposition – formal questioning, under oath, of an opposing party or witness, conducted outside of the courtroom, but with a court reporter recording the entire process.
If you have been subpoenaed to give a deposition, you may be feeling a bit nervous as you likely don’t know what to expect. Your attorney will undoubtedly spend some time with you preparing you for the deposition; however, it helps to have a general idea of what to expect ahead of time. The opposing party’s attorney will ask you questions, much like he/she would do at a trial. In fact, one of the primary reasons for taking a deposition is to get an idea of how the individual will answer questions at trial and what kind of witness the individual will be. With this in mind, one of the most important things to remember when answering questions is to keep your answers short and do not elaborate. Also, do not rush to answer. Give your attorney time to object or advise you if a question is problematic in your attorney’s opinion. Always keep in mind that you are under oath and that the answers you give at a deposition can be used against you at trial if you give a contradictory answer at trial. As a general rule you must answer the questions asked of you; however, if you have a problem with a question, ask for a brief pause to consult your attorney. Although it can be intimidating to give a deposition, think of it as a warm-up for trial.
If you have additional questions or concerns about what to expect at a deposition, or about the discovery process in general in a child custody case, contact the experienced Texas child custody attorneys at The Law Office of Jon R. Boyd to schedule your appointment today.