I am a strong proponent of taking depositions in contested family law cases in North Carolina. They can help in many ways.
A deposition is type of discovery proceeding where a party or witness is required to answer questions before a court reporter while under an oath or affirmation to tell the truth. A deposition happens in one of the lawyer’s offices or at an agreed-on location. This kind of proceeding does not take place in the presence of a district court judge.
The frequency of depositions is different county-to-county. For example, they are very frequent in Wake County divorce cases. Lawyers in Wake County contested custody cases, equitable distribution, and alimony cases often take them. In Orange County, North Carolina, deposition is in family law cases are less frequent. Local practice has much to do with what and how discovery tools are implemented.
Why Take a Deposition?
There are several reasons to take a deposition in a contested divorce, alimony, postseparation support, equitable distribution, child custody or child support case.
- Getting evidence;
- Committing the witness to a certain version of events;
- Educating opposing counsel on case weaknesses;
- Educating a client on case weaknesses; and
- Assisting settlement.
It is important to ask questions and get answers in a particular way at the deposition. I find that being friendly and conversational with the witness is usually the best approach. It does no good to ask the hard questions at the beginning of the deposition because it will cause the witness to talk less, when the goal of the deposition is to have the witness talk more so everyone can understand the facts and opinions as the witness sees them.
I want to use a deposition to get evidence because, as tools go for lawyers, the deposition is the least-filtered way to get the information. For example, I sometimes send written questions (called interrogatories), but the party’s attorney has the ability to assist in the answering. I usually don’t want the attorney’s answers; I want the party’s answers.
Getting the evidence means that I am better prepared for the trial. We know what the witness is going to say and we can decide on what documents or other witnesses we would need to call at the hearing if we want to dispute what the witness will say in court.
Committing the witness to a certain version of events:
Since the proceeding is recorded and a transcript produced, if the party or witness testifies differently at the hearing or trial than at the deposition I can, and often do, point that out. That has the effect of reducing the credibility of the witness in the eyes of the court.
The depositions of parties is important because that is frequently the first time the opposing lawyer will get a sense of the party as a person and witness in court. Sometime lawyers discover that the other spouse is not quite the way our client has portrayed them. I need to know if the other party will make a good witness or bad witness.
The deposition can and does assist settlement of the case because of the forgoing factors. Sometimes I have settled cases at lunch breaks of depositions. It forces the lawyers and parties together and highlights the seriousness of the situation.
Raleigh divorce lawyer Scott Allen has taken and defended hundreds of depositions in all kinds of family law cases and has over twenty-three years of legal experience.
If you have questions or need assistance call him at (919) 863-4183 or email at email@example.com.
"Scott was wonderful throughout the long process and it was clear to me that Scott was knowledgeable of case-law and the Wake County Court system, as well as being especially strong in court. His representation resulted in additional parenting time following the temporary custody trial and since the case proceeded to a full trial, I was ultimately awarded the custody arrangement I was seeking. My daughters reside in Wake County and now if my ex-wife chooses to relocate, I’ll have full legal custody of the girls. Throughout the process, Scott was responsive, provided extremely helpful advice, and genuinely cared about the outcome of my case. I would strongly recommended Scott’s representation for custody matters."
I was out of options and Scott was there to help. I have spoken to or met many attorney's in Wake County and Scott was the only one that REALLY actually cared about my situation. It sounds cliche' but it's not. I could clearly tell that Scott had given a lot of thought to my case. Scott has extensive knowledge of the law. That knowledge coupled with his cerebral approach and courtroom presence were a savior. - Ken
"Scott Allen and his team were sensational during my divorce proceedings. They kept me well-informed of the procedures, requirements, and options. They took the time to explain to me at every step of the decisions and options as we moved forward in my life. Their support, knowledge and presence were comforting in my time of need and help me get through the ordeal. While no divorce is pleasant outcome they help me secure my life and begin a new chapter with a fresh start. Their extensive knowledge of the law and arbitration and negotiation skills were invaluable in getting a good settlement and resolution. I am very pleased that I selected Scott and his team to represent me. I would emphatically recommend Scott and to anyone who is facing a divorce or possibility of a divorce."
I wanted to go to court and he went with it. During the initial hearing and all the subsequent hearings he fought for my rights and presented my case diligently and proved the claims by the other party to be false. Most of the lawyers, will tell you settle as it saves them and the court time, but it might not be always in your best interest. Scott is not those lawyers, he really cares about his clients and is not afraid to litigate or fight for his client’s right in the court. - Susan
Scott Allen took my divorce case after my first lawyer failed to stand for my rights.Scott took the case and I began to sleep better at night. My marriage ended from abuse so I was very weary. - Felicia