Helping Texans with a variety of family law cases, including child custody and divorce.

A Comprehensive Guide to Depositions in Texas Family Law

by | Dec 31, 2023 | Firm News

Part 1: Understanding Depositions in Texas

What is a Deposition?

A deposition is a crucial legal process where witnesses or parties provide sworn testimony under oath. Our goal at the Beveridge Law Firm is to empower non-custodial parents like you by offering guidance through depositions and other family law matters.

Two Types of Depositions

In Brazoria County, which houses the 461st District Court presided over by Judge Bulanek and the 300th District Court with Judge Bradshaw, and Galveston County, home to the 306th District Court and the Galveston County Courts at Law, depositions are common in family law cases. We help you navigate these depositions, ensuring your voice is heard and your rights are protected.

Part 2: Preparing for Your Deposition

Importance of Preparation

Preparation is key to your success. At the Beveridge Law Firm, we understand the challenges you face and work closely with non-custodial parents to help them prepare for depositions effectively.

Document Review

Our team assists you in reviewing essential documents, ensuring you’re well-prepared to provide accurate and complete answers during your deposition.

Tips for Handling a Deposition

We provide valuable advice for staying calm, composed, and in control during your deposition. Our goal is to support you in presenting your case confidently.

Part 3: After the Deposition

Transcription and Record

After the deposition, we help you understand the transcription process and how to use the recorded testimony in your favor.

Next Steps

Following your deposition, we guide you through settlement negotiations or trial preparations, always prioritizing your rights and interests.

Part 4: Empowering Non-Custodial Parents

Target Audience: Non-Custodial Parents/Fathers/Husbands

Our primary focus is on non-custodial parents, especially fathers and husbands, who are determined to secure equal access to their children.

Geographic Focus: Brazoria and Galveston County

We serve non-custodial parents in Brazoria County’s 461st and 300th District Courts and in Galveston County’s 306th District Court and Galveston County Courts at Law 1, 2, and 3.

Our Mission

At the Beveridge Law Firm, our mission is to help non-custodial parents get equal time with their children. We are passionate about supporting parents in their pursuit of equal access and have been actively involved in legislative efforts to advance parental rights.

If you’re a non-custodial parent seeking equal access to your children or facing challenges enforcing court orders, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. Call our office at 281-407-0961 or submit your information via our website at https://www.beveridgelawfirm.com/contact/.

Rules Of Depositions:

Below is Rule 199, which details the guidelines and procedures for oral depositions during the discovery process:

199.1 Oral Examination; Alternative Methods of Conducting or Recording. 

(a) Generally. A party may take the testimony of any person or entity by deposition on oral examination before any officer authorized by law to take depositions. The testimony, objections, and any other statements during the deposition must be recorded at the time they are given or made.

(b) Depositions by telephone or other remote electronic means. A party may take an oral deposition by telephone or other remote electronic means if the party gives reasonable prior written notice of intent to do so. For the purposes of these rules, an oral deposition taken by telephone or other remote electronic means is considered as having been taken in the district and at the place where the witness is located when answering the questions.

(c) Non-stenographic recording. Any party may cause a deposition upon oral examination to be recorded by other than stenographic means, including videotape recording. The party requesting the non-stenographic recording will be responsible for obtaining a person authorized by law to administer the oath and for assuring that the recording will be intelligible, accurate, and trustworthy. At least five days prior to the deposition, the party must serve on the witness and all parties a notice, either in the notice of deposition or separately, that the deposition will be recorded by other than stenographic means. This notice must state the method of non-stenographic recording to be used and whether the deposition will also be recorded stenographically. Any other party may then serve written notice designating another method of recording in addition to the method specified, at the expense of such other party unless the court orders otherwise.

199.2 Procedure for Noticing Oral Depositions.

 (a) Time to notice deposition. A notice of intent to take an oral deposition must be served on the witness and all parties a reasonable time before the deposition is taken. An oral deposition may be taken outside the discovery period only by agreement of the parties or with leave of court. 

(b) Content of notice. 

(1) Identity of witness; organizations. The notice must state the name of the witness, which may be either an individual or a public or private corporation, partnership, association, governmental agency, or other organization. If an organization is named as the witness, the notice must describe with reasonable particularity the matters on which examination is requested. In response, the organization named in the notice must – a reasonable time before the deposition designate one or more individuals to testify on its behalf and set forth, for each individual designated, the matters on which the individual will testify. Each individual designated must testify as to matters that are known or reasonably available to the organization. This subdivision does not preclude taking a deposition by any other procedure authorized by these rules.

(2) Time and place. The notice must state a reasonable time and place for the oral deposition.

The place may be in: 

(A) the county of the witness’s residence;

(B) the county where the witness is employed or regularly transacts business in person;

(C) the county of suit, if the witness is a party or a person designated by a party under Rule 199.2(b)(1);

(D) the county where the witness was served with the subpoena, or within 150 miles of the place of service, if the witness is not a resident of Texas or is a transient person; or(E) subject to the foregoing, at any other convenient place directed by the court in which the cause is pending.

(3) Alternative means of conducting and recording. The notice must state whether the deposition is to be taken by telephone or other remote electronic means and identify the means. If the deposition is to be recorded by nonstenographic means, the notice may include the notice required by Rule 199.1(c).

(4) Additional attendees. The notice may include the notice concerning additional attendees required by Rule 199.5(a)(3).

(5) Request for production of documents. A notice may include a request that the witness produce at the deposition documents or tangible things within the scope of discovery and within the witness’s possession, custody, or control. If the witness is a nonparty, the request must comply with Rule 205 and the designation of materials required to be identified in the subpoena must be attached to, or included in, the notice. The nonparty’s response to the request is governed by Rules 176 and 205. When the witness is a party or subject to the control of a party, document requests under this subdivision are governed by Rules 193 and 196.

199.3 Compelling Witness to Attend.

A party may compel the witness to attend the oral deposition by serving the witness with a subpoena under Rule 176. If the witness is a party or is retained by, employed by, or otherwise subject to the control of a party, however, service of the notice of oral deposition upon the party’s attorney has the same effect as a subpoena served on the witness.

199.4 Objections to Time and Place of Oral Deposition.

A party or witness may object to the time and place designated for an oral deposition by motion for protective order or by motion to quash the notice of deposition. If the motion is filed by the third business day after service of the notice of deposition, an objection to the time and place of a deposition stays the oral deposition until the motion can be determined.

199.5 Examination, Objection, and Conduct During Oral Depositions. 

(a)Attendance.

 (1) Witness. The witness must remain in attendance from day to day until the deposition is begun and completed.

(2) Attendance by party. A party may attend an oral deposition in person, even if the deposition is taken by telephone or other remote electronic means. If a deposition is taken by telephone or other remote electronic means, the party noticing the deposition must make arrangements for all persons to attend by the same means. If the party noticing the deposition appears in person, any other party may appear by telephone or other remote electronic means if that party makes the necessary arrangements with the deposition officer and the party noticing the deposition.

(3) Other attendees. If any party intends to have in attendance any persons other than the witness, parties, spouses of parties, counsel, employees of counsel, and the officer taking the oral deposition, that party must give reasonable notice to all parties, either in the notice of deposition or separately, of the identity of the other persons.

(b) Oath; examination. Every person whose deposition is taken by oral examination must first be placed under oath. The parties may examine and cross-examine the witness. Any party, in lieu of participating in the examination, may serve written questions in a sealed envelope on the party noticing the oral deposition, who must deliver them to the deposition officer, who must open the envelope and propound them to the witness.

(c) Time limitation. No side may examine or cross-examine an individual witness for more than six hours. Breaks during depositions do not count against this limitation.

(d) Conduct during the oral deposition; conferences. The oral deposition must be conducted in the same manner as if the testimony were being obtained in court during trial. Counsel should cooperate with and be courteous to each other and to the witness. The witness should not be evasive and should not unduly delay the examination. Private conferences between the witness and the witness’s attorney during the actual taking of the deposition are improper except for the purpose of determining whether a privilege should be asserted. Private conferences may be held, however, during agreed recesses and adjournments. If the lawyers and witnesses do not comply with this rule, the court may allow in evidence at trial statements, objections, discussions, and other occurrences during the oral deposition that reflect upon the credibility of the witness or the testimony.

(e) Objections. Objections to questions during the oral deposition are limited to “Objection, leading” and “Objection, form.” Objections to testimony during the oral deposition are limited to “Objection, non-responsive.” These objections are waived if not stated as phrased during the oral deposition. All other objections need not be made or recorded during the oral deposition to be later raised with the court. The objecting party must give a clear and concise explanation of an objection if requested by the party taking the oral deposition, or the objection is waived. Argumentative or suggestive objections or explanations waive objection and may be grounds for terminating the oral deposition or assessing costs or other sanctions. The officer taking the oral deposition will not rule on objections but must record them for ruling by the court. The officer taking the oral deposition must not fail to record testimony because an objection has been made.

(f) Instructions not to answer. An attorney may instruct a witness not to answer a question during an oral deposition only if necessary to preserve a privilege, comply with a court order or these rules, protect a witness from an abusive question or one for which any answer would be misleading, or secure a ruling pursuant to paragraph (g). The attorney instructing the witness not to answer must give a concise, non-argumentative, non-suggestive explanation of the grounds for the instruction if requested by the party who asked the question.

(g) Suspending the deposition. If the time limitations for the deposition have expired or the deposition is being conducted or defended in violation of these rules, a party or witness may suspend the oral deposition for the time necessary to obtain a ruling.

(h) Good faith required. An attorney must not ask a question at an oral deposition solely to harass or mislead the witness, for any other improper purpose, or without a good faith legal basis at the time. An attorney must not object to a question at an oral deposition, instruct the witness not to answer a question, or suspend the deposition unless there is a good faith factual and legal basis for doing so at the time.

199.6 Hearing on Objections. 

Any party may, at any reasonable time, request a hearing on an objection or privilege asserted by an instruction not to answer or suspension of the deposition; provided the failure of a party to obtain a ruling prior to trial does not waive any objection or privilege. The party seeking to avoid discovery must present any evidence necessary to support the objection or privilege either by testimony at the hearing or by affidavits served on opposing parties at least seven days before the hearing. If the court determines that an in camera review of some or all of the requested discovery is necessary to rule, answers to the deposition questions may be made in camera, to be transcribed and sealed in the event the privilege is sustained, or made in an affidavit produced to the court in a sealed wrapper.

Tex. R. Civ. P. 199

Written Depositions

For written depositions, a notice of intent to take depositions must be sent to the deponent at least two days before the deposition is taken, and the written questions must be attached to the notice of intent. The deponent then has ten days after seeing the deposition questions to object to the questions and to submit cross-questions. No more than five days after the cross-questions are served, the litigant can object to cross-questions and submit redirect questions. Objections to those redirect questions must then be submitted within five days of receiving them.

At the written deposition, an officer must be available at the time and place designated in the notice of intent. Under oath, the deponent will respond to the written questions, which the officer will record. The officer will then prepare, certify, and deliver that transcript as specified in the notice of intent.

Below is Rule 200, which details the guidelines and procedures for written depositions during the discovery process:

200.1 Procedure for Noticing Deposition Upon Written Questions. 

(a) Who may be noticed; when. A party may take the testimony of any person or entity by deposition on written questions before any person authorized by law to take depositions on written questions. A notice of intent to take the deposition must be served on the witness and all parties at least 20 days before the deposition is taken. A deposition on written questions may be taken outside the discovery period only by agreement of the parties or with leave of court. The party noticing the deposition must also deliver to the deposition officer a copy of the notice and of all written questions to be asked during the deposition.

(b) Content of notice. The notice must comply with Rules 199.1(b), 199.2(b), and 199.5(a)(3). If the witness is an organization, the organization must comply with the requirements of that provision. The notice also may include a request for production of documents as permitted by Rule 199.2(b)(5), the provisions of which will govern the request, service, and response.

200.2 Compelling Witness to Attend.

A party may compel the witness to attend the deposition on written questions by serving the witness with a subpoena under Rule 176. If the witness is a party or is retained by, employed by, or otherwise subject to the control of a party, however, service of the deposition notice upon the party’s attorney has the same effect as a subpoena served on the witness.

200.3 Questions and Objections. 

(a) Direct questions. The direct questions to be propounded to the witness must be attached to the notice.

(b) Objections and additional questions. Within ten days after the notice and direct questions are served, any party may object to the direct questions and serve cross-questions on all other parties. Within five days after cross-questions are served, any party may object to the cross-questions and serve redirect questions on all other parties. Within three days after redirect questions are served, any party may object to the redirect questions and serve re-cross questions on all other parties. Objections to re-cross questions must be served within five days after the earlier of when re-cross questions are served or the time of the deposition on written questions.

(c) Objections to form of questions. Objections to the form of a question are waived unless asserted in accordance with this subdivision.

200.4 Conducting the Deposition Upon Written Questions.

The deposition officer must: take the deposition on written questions at the time and place designated; record the testimony of the witness under oath in response to the questions; and prepare, certify, and deliver the deposition transcript in accordance with Rule 203. The deposition officer has authority when necessary to summon and swear an interpreter to facilitate the taking of the deposition.

Tex. R. Civ. P. 200

Depositions are subject to many complex rules, and failing to follow those rules can have serious effects on litigation. Hiring a lawyer who is knowledgeable about the requirements and details concerning depositions will help a litigant avoid the difficulties that result from not handling depositions appropriately.

Question and Answer

Q1: Can you explain the role of depositions in civil litigation, particularly oral and written depositions?

Certainly. In civil litigation, depositions are a crucial part of the discovery process. They involve the exchange of relevant facts and information among parties in a lawsuit. There are two types of depositions: oral and written. Oral depositions are governed by Rule 199 of the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure, and written depositions are governed by Rule 200.

Q2: Could you elaborate on the rules and procedures for oral depositions in Texas, as outlined in Rule 199?

Certainly. Rule 199 provides guidelines for oral depositions in Texas. It covers various aspects, including the location, time, and notice required for oral depositions. Notably, it allows depositions to be taken by telephone or other remote electronic means, but certain rules apply in those cases. Objections during oral depositions are limited to “Objection, leading” and “Objection, form.” Other objections can be raised later in court. It’s important to note that clear explanations are required for objections made during depositions.

Q3: What about the process of noticing oral depositions? Are there specific requirements?

Yes, Rule 199.2 outlines the procedure for noticing oral depositions. It requires that notices be served on the witness and all parties a reasonable time before the deposition. The notice must include the witness’s name, the time and place of the deposition, and whether it will be taken by telephone or other remote electronic means. Parties can also request production of documents during oral depositions, subject to certain rules.

Q4: How is a witness compelled to attend an oral deposition in Texas?

A party can compel a witness to attend an oral deposition by serving them with a subpoena under Rule 176. However, if the witness is a party or is under the control of a party, serving the notice of oral deposition upon the party’s attorney has the same effect as a subpoena served on the witness.

Q5: What can you tell us about objections during oral depositions?

During oral depositions, objections to questions are limited to “Objection, leading” and “Objection, form.” Objections to testimony are limited to “Objection, non-responsive.” These objections must be stated clearly during the deposition but are not ruled on by the officer taking the deposition. Other objections can be raised later in court. It’s essential to avoid argumentative or suggestive objections.

Q6: How is the deposition time limited for each individual witness?

Rule 199.5(c) states that no side may examine or cross-examine an individual witness for more than six hours. Breaks during depositions do not count against this limitation.

Q7: Can you explain what happens if there’s a need to suspend an oral deposition?

If the time limitations for the deposition have expired or if the deposition is being conducted in violation of the rules, a party or witness may suspend the oral deposition to seek a ruling.

Q8: How do objections related to “good faith” apply to oral depositions?

An attorney must not ask questions solely to harass or mislead the witness or for any improper purpose. Objections and instructions not to answer must be based on a good faith factual and legal basis at the time.

Q9: Is there a specific procedure for hearings on objections or privileges?

Yes, any party may request a hearing on an objection or privilege asserted during a deposition. The failure to obtain a ruling before trial does not waive the objection or privilege.

Q10: Let’s shift to written depositions. Can you explain the key aspects of noticing written depositions under Rule 200?

Certainly. Rule 200 outlines the procedure for noticing written depositions. It allows a party to take the testimony of any person or entity by deposition on written questions. The notice must be served on the witness and all parties at least 20 days before the deposition and must include the name of the witness, the time and place, and may also request the production of documents.

Q11: How is a witness compelled to attend a written deposition?

Similar to oral depositions, a party can compel a witness to attend a written deposition by serving them with a subpoena under Rule 176, unless the witness is a party or is under the control of a party, in which case serving the deposition notice on the party’s attorney has the same effect.

Q12: Can you explain the process for submitting questions and objections during written depositions?

Certainly. The notice must include the direct questions to be asked during the written deposition. After receiving the notice, parties have specific timeframes to object to the questions and submit cross-questions, redirect questions, and re-cross questions. These timeframes are crucial, and objections to the form of questions must be raised according to the rules.

Q13: How are written depositions conducted?

During a written deposition, an officer must record the witness’s responses to the written questions under oath. The officer then prepares, certifies, and delivers the deposition transcript as specified in the notice of intent.

Q14: Is there anything else important to note about depositions in Texas?

Yes, it’s crucial to understand that depositions are subject to complex rules and procedures. Failing to adhere to these rules can have significant consequences for litigation. Therefore, it’s

Contact Information:

Beveridge Law Firm

Conclusion:

At the Beveridge Law Firm, we are committed to empowering non-custodial parents, particularly fathers and husbands, in Brazoria and Galveston County. We understand the importance of equal access to your children and offer our support throughout the deposition process and beyond. Contact us today to take the first step towards securing your parental rights.