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What is a Deposition and How Do I Prepare?

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Categorized as Illinois Divorce, Illinois Family Law

Often in divorce or custody cases the parties will have to sit for a deposition.  A deposition is usually conducted outside of the courtroom, generally at one of the attorney’s offices.  The party that is being deposed is present, along with their attorney, if they have one.  The opposing party may be present to listen to the deposition, but this is not mandatory.  The opposing party’s attorney will be present as well.  A court reporter is also hired for the deposition to take down the testimony and put it into a transcript.  Judges are not present for depositions and oftentimes won’t even review the deposition transcript unless they are asked to by an attorney or it is presented at a trial.

A deposition is used by the opposing attorney to gather information from the witness.  The attorney is looking to find out what the witness knows and what they will testify to at a trial.  Depositions are informal, but this can be deceiving.  Depositions are vitally important and despite the fact that they are informal, anything you say can be used against you at a later date.  Additionally, attorneys will take depositions to secure testimony from a witness.  If the party being deposed answers a question one way at a deposition and later changes their answer at a hearing or a trial, the attorney can use this to discredit the witnesses’ testimony altogether.

If you are being deposed and you are represented by counsel, they will generally prepare you for your deposition in advance.  It is important that you have a conversation with your attorney about what to say and what not to say, and how to answer questions prior to the deposition being taken.  If you are unrepresented and are called upon to sit for a deposition, it is beneficial to speak to an attorney and hire one to go with you to preserve your rights.  Our attorneys are experienced in conducting depositions, feel free to call us to set up a consultation if you find yourself in this situation.

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