Depositions in Montana Family LawMarybeth Sampsel
While many Montana divorces/dissolution or parenting cases are fairly quick and amicable, some cases are very litigious and carry on for months or years. If a divorce or parenting case is headed to trial, an attorney or party may determine it is necessary to take a deposition of a party to a case or a witness. Because depositions are relatively rare in family law cases, litigants are often intimidated and unsure what to expect.
A deposition is basically sworn testimony taken outside of the court room. A court report is present to keep a record of your testimony. At a deposition, the person being deposed must be sworn, like they would if they were testifying at trial. This means you are testifying under penalty of perjury and you must answer the questions both completely and truthfully. It also means that the information you provide at a deposition could be used against you at trial if you testify to different facts at a later time. Depositions are often used to gather information about a case. For example, an attorney may choose to depose you if you have not provided answers to written requests for information.
Once sworn in, the attorney that requested the deposition will have the opportunity to ask the witness questions. Once finished, the other attorney can ask clarifying questions to gather additional information.
Depositions can take a very long time, often more than one day, if there is a great deal of information to gather. Though they can seem like a marathon, you are entitled to breaks and you may speak with your attorney during the deposition. Once complete, the court reporter will provide a booklet of your deposition testimony for you to review for consistency.