I attended a class last week given by the New York Bar Association about depositions. A deposition, in layman’s terms, is an interview with the goal of gathering information by your spouse’s counsel. It’s held in person with your lawyer present. Depositions can be part of the discovery process during negotiations, typically part of a highly contested divorce.
I was reminded again of the many pieces of the divorce puzzle any individual has to absorb during the process. It’s scary enough to think about divorce, let alone imagine the road ahead filled with financial information, custody negotiations, depositions and possibly even a trial. Trying to face any challenge like this alone is enough to make you want to get under the covers and never come out.
The key to moving through this is support and information. You’ll need to know the questions to ask and have the confidence to ask them. Relying on your attorney to know what’s best for you, or to assume he or she knows what you’re thinking, is not the wisest approach. Here are a few tips:
- Get a clear understanding of what the possible paths ahead might look like. Based on your current situation, what does your attorney think is the best strategy? What are the contingency plans if that doesn’t go as planned?
- Ask for explanations in term you can understand. RJI, motions, depositions, preliminary conferences-what do those mean?
- Ask for regular updates-even if the update is that nothing has transpired.
- Make sure you know critical dates and that you’re prepared ahead. If you’ve got a deposition coming up, expect your attorney to prepare you, not only on what you might be asked, but on what the actual deposition looks like, what does it mean for your divorce process?
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions if you don’t understand. That is probably the most important advice I can give anyone. Attorneys do this for a living. You may have a terrific attorney, however, he or she may sometimes forget that this is the only divorce process that you’re going through and that you’ve never experienced it before.
Make sure you’re your best advocate. Remember, this is your divorce!