What is a Divorce Deposition? How Can I Prepare?

Man sitting by a laptop, drinking coffee. Focus on gesturing hand. Visual concept for divorce blog about a Divorce Deposition.

A deposition can be a crucial part of the discovery process in divorce litigation. They can provide valuable information about the issues that must be decided in the case — including asset division, child custody, child support, and alimony. While depositions are not part of every divorce case, they are a standard procedure in contested matters that are headed to trial and can be used to determine the strategy in the case.

What is a Divorce Deposition?

A divorce deposition is the giving of oral testimony while under oath. Depositions are conducted out of court in front of a court reporter, the attorneys for both sides, and the parties to the divorce action. Your spouse’s attorney will ask you a series of questions pertaining to your case — and you will also have the opportunity to depose your spouse on a separate occasion. Depositions can also be taken of expert witnesses who may be brought into a case to help clarify certain issues.

A divorce deposition is not attended by a judge, but they can sometimes be on call if any disputes arise regarding the questioning. While an attorney can make limited objections at a deposition, based on form, relevancy, or privilege, the deponent is generally required to answer the questions that are being asked. A deponent may not hold back any information during a deposition and is obligated to tell the truth.

What Types of Divorce Deposition Questions Can You Expect?

The circumstances surrounding every divorce are different and a deposition can be useful to gather information and help build the best possible strategy in the case. A divorce deposition can be used to establish the accuracy of each party’s statements and be a good test of how someone would act under cross-examination at trial. While the questions asked in each case will vary, common divorce deposition questions can cover the following topics:

  • Personal details — Depending on the facts of your case, be prepared to be asked a variety of questions regarding the details of your marriage, the nature of the dispute between you and your spouse, and your reasons for seeking a divorce. If child custody is at issue, you may also be asked questions about your health and lifestyle.
  • Employment — You may be asked questions about your job and the hours you are required to work. These questions may be asked in order for the other attorney to gather information about your financial situation and your stability as a parent.
  • Finances — Questions concerning financial information are nearly always brought up at a divorce deposition. Calculating child support or alimony could require a detailed understanding of both parties’ financial circumstances. The attorney conducting the deposition could request information about income, assets, debts, and anything else that might be relevant to painting a financial picture.
  • Custody matters — The attorney taking the deposition may ask questions pertaining to child custody matters to determine which parent would be able to provide a better living environment for the child.
  • Property and assets — Questions may be asked about each spouse’s assets to help identify marital property and determine how the marital estate should be divided.

It’s critical to take your deposition seriously. As a deponent, your spouse’s attorney is not only looking for ways to obtain information — but also discredit you. It’s important to work with a skillful divorce attorney who can properly prepare you for your divorce deposition questions.

How Can You Prepare for a Divorce Deposition?

It’s very important to thoroughly prepare for your divorce deposition. However, it’s essential not to go through the process without counsel. A knowledgeable attorney can best assist you with ensuring you know what to expect at your deposition — and they can adequately prepare you for the questions that will be asked. Here are some tips to keep in mind as you prepare for your divorce deposition:

  • Review your financial documents — Before your deposition, review your financial documents so the information will be fresh in your mind. If you’ve noticed that anything has changed, tell your attorney.
  • Remain calm — A divorce deposition can be stressful and overwhelming, but it’s important to remain calm. You will be able to better focus on the questions being asked by not allowing your nerves to get the better of you.
  • Think and pause before answering any questions — Focus on the question asked and give a concise answer. Do not rush to answer or volunteer additional information. Keep your answers short and to the point.
  • Be truthful — Although it might seem obvious, it’s crucial to be truthful when answering questions at your divorce deposition. Lying or concealing the truth can result in potentially damaging your case and put you at risk for perjury.
  • Ensure you understand the question being asked — Ensure you fully understand the question being asked before you answer it. If the question is unclear or ambiguous, you have the right to ask the attorney to ask for clarification.
  • Don’t attempt to guess — If you don’t remember something, you should never guess. In the event you are unsure about specific dates, times, or occurrences, you can simply say that you don’t remember. Similarly, if you don’t know the answer to a question, you should say so.
  • Be consistent — The other attorney might try to ask you the same question more than once in different ways to challenge your credibility. It’s vital to be consistent with your answers.

A few weeks after the divorce deposition has been conducted, you will be provided with a transcript of the testimony. Be sure to review it thoroughly for accuracy. If there are any errors, you should consult with your attorney to make the necessary corrections to the transcript.

Contact an Experienced Missouri Divorce Attorney

Divorce depositions can be overwhelming and it’s best to have an experienced attorney who can protect your rights and guide you through the deposition process. Divorce and family law attorney Mark A. Wortman offers compassionate counsel and reliable representation to clients in the greater Kansas City, Missouri area for divorce and a wide variety of family law matters. To schedule a confidential consultation to learn how he can help, please contact him today online or by calling (816) 523-6100.