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Getting Through a Deposition in a Child Custody Case


Mother Reading to Her DaughterChild Custody Deposition

Washington residents going through a divorce may have to give a deposition as part of the process. High-asset divorces where much is at stake for the parties typically involve depositions, and often, those involving custody disputes do so.

Your deposition will likely occur in your attorney's office conference room, at the court reporter's office, or at another location agreed upon by the parties. Your lawyer will be present while you answer opposing counsel's questions truthfully under oath. Below are a few tips to help you get through your deposition while making a favorable impression on the court.

Examples of Child Custody Deposition Questions

To help you prepare, here are some questions a divorce lawyer may ask regarding child custody:

  1. Who has been the primary caretaker?
  2. What was the father's involvement in prenatal care, birthing classes, and the birth?
  3. Describe a typical day in each child's life: Who is responsible for preparing the children's meals and supervising their food choices? Who is responsible for bathing, dressing, etc.?
  4. Who is responsible for school registration? 
  5. Do you volunteer at your children's school? Describe your volunteer activities and how much time is spent per week or month.
  6. Which extracurricular activities do the children participate in? Who is responsible for signing them up for these activities, transportation to and from, snacks, etc.? 
  7. Are both you and your spouse involved in parent-teacher conferences? School events? 
  8. Who helps with homework? Are either of you involved with coaching, tutoring, etc.? 
  9. How do you discipline the children? How does your spouse discipline the children? 
  10. Who makes decisions about the children's religious education?
  11. Who do the children turn to when hurt, sick, or sad? 
  12. Was a typical day in your life and the lives of the children different before the divorce? How?

Tips for Deposition

The most important thing to remember when being deposed is to remain calm. Take a few calming breaths before it begins, and don't rush your answers. Have a glass of water handy to sip from if you need a moment to compose yourself. Don't allow the other attorney to goad you to anger with a line of provocative questions. Your attorney can buffer you from any abusive tactics.

Listen to each question thoroughly. This seems so simple, and it's so important. Wait until the lawyer is through speaking before answering, and weigh your truthful answer carefully. Never volunteer more than what is asked. If "yes" or "no" suffice, go with that.

Understand what is being asked before answering. Never answer a vague question that could be interpreted in several different ways. Ask politely for clarification by saying, "I don't understand the question."

Always be truthful. Perjury is a severe charge that carries jail time, so don't run afoul of this by lying under oath. Share with your attorney any unflattering or damaging information the other side may bring up during the deposition so you can devise a strategy for explaining the circumstances and mitigating the damage.

Lastly, remember that "I don't know" and "I don't recall" are legitimate answers to questions as long as you are telling the truth. Opposing counsel may try to badger you with similar questions, but remain calm and reiterate your two answers whenever applicable.

Your attorney is a good source of advice and counsel when preparing to give your deposition.

If you need help getting through a deposition, contact the team at O’Brian & Associates now!

Susan O'BrianBlog Author: Attorney Susan O'Brian

Susan O'Brian has been practicing family law since 1986 and founded O’Brian & Associates.

Visit her bio to learn more about her experience helping families with their legal matters.

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