What to Expect at a Deposition

Paul L. Feinstein, a Chicago sole practitioner with more than 30 years of experience, explains the basics about what happens at a deposition and a list of some area of questions that may be asked.

By Paul L. Feinstein
May 26, 2006

Most people getting divorced never had a deposition taken before. There is not enough room here to adequately describe how one should handle oneself at a deposition. However, I thought it might be helpful to just list some of the areas of questions that you might be asked in any particular case. These are only for purposes of illustration.

Divorce Settlement/Preparation

You should definitely -- well in advance of your deposition -- meet with your lawyer and ask what kinds of questions you will be asked. It will, of course, be impossible for your lawyer to adequately predict all of the questions, or even all of the areas, although the more experience such a lawyer has in the field, the better he or she can answer you.

  • State your name and address.
  • List all residences since this suit was filed.
  • Date of birth.
  • Are you the respondent in this case?
  • Do you understand the oath you just took? You understand you must tell the truth?
  • Are you currently under any medication that would affect your ability to answer my questions?
  • Are you in good health?
  • With whom do you reside?
  • Is there a lease? Will you produce it?
  • Document production request: Go through each item.
  • Go through Loan application.
  • Where are you employed? What is your business address?
  • Education degrees? Honors? College?
  • Did you both work throughout the marriage? Whose money was used for what purposes? What is your total income for this year? Last time you changed income withholding?
  • When was your last job performance review? Who reviews you? What was said? Do you notify your spouse when you get a raise?
  • How is your compensation determined?
  • Explain travel and entertainment expense account. Did you and your spouse eat and entertain off the expense account? Company pays truck payments? And truck phone payment?
  • Do you have any options to acquire an interest in _______business? Do you have any contractual rights to acquire an interest in ______business? Any discussions about it? Any drafts of paperwork?
  • Who does the books at ______? Do they have more than one set of books?
  • How long have you supported your spouse?
  • At the time of the marriage, what were you each making per year?
  • Did she support you while you were making career change?
  • This year, did you tell her you did not want her to work?
  • What employable skills does she have? How long do you think it will take before she can support herself, if ever?
  • To your knowledge, what mental or physical health problems does she have? Who have you told this to?
  • What income did you have in 2000 that was not declared on your taxes?
  • What kind of hours do you work?
  • Do you have an idea of what your income will be for the next year?
  • Health insurance? Disability insurance? Life insurance? Who are the beneficiaries? Other insurance?
  • What retirement plans does your employer have? What other retirement plans do you have? (IRAs, etc.)
  • When did you begin working there?(month and year)
  • How is your health? Mental and physical?
  • Do you like what you're doing? You're good at it? Is your job secure?
  • What life insurance, other than that at work, have you had since the case began? Cash values. Did you cancel or borrow on it? Why?
  • Have you let any other insurance lapse since the case began? In insurance paid up? (Life, disability, homeowners, car)
  • Are both mortgages paid up? Is boat storage paid up?
  • Was your spouse a good homemaker during the marriage? Did she: Run the house? Take care of bills and finances? Take care of your business books? Help you with clients? Take care of the children?
  • Do you belong to any clubs?
  • Do you have any stock options? Are you the beneficiary of any trusts? Have you set up any trusts?
  • What cars do you own? Cost? From where? The equity line of credit? Payment? Company makes it? Most extravagant car you've owned during the marriage?
  • What boats do you own?
  • Do you have any certificates of deposit?
  • What real estate do you own? What's the value? Are you willing to buy your spouse out? Willing to sell it? Does it need additional work to be saleable? You want to stay there. Why? How much additional money and work put into the house? What is the condition of the house?
  • Paid for daughter's wedding from equity line? How much?
  • Explain the various mortgages.
  • Current loan balances?
  • Do you own land in Colorado? What is the value?
  • Do you have an interest in cemetery plots at Union Ridge Cemetery?
  • Do you deal in commodities? Have you ever, during the marriage?
  • Have you made any investments outside the United States?
  • Do you own any bonds, stocks or mutual funds?
  • Was Shearson or any other account during the marriage approx. $100,000 or more?
  • Do you have any savings or checking accounts? Was there a joint checking account at _______ Federal? Did you close it out? When? How much? What did you to do with the money?
  • Do you have any investments in any precious metals?
  • During the marriage to your spouse, have you bought any tax shelter or limited partnership investments?
  • Do you have any annuities or endowment contracts?
  • Do you have any Series E Bonds or treasury bills?
  • Idea of value of furniture, furnishings and fixtures in your residence?
  • Go over his asset list -- how did you arrive at values?
  • You have a gun collection? Consisting of what? Will you make a list with estimated value?
  • Have you received any inheritances or expect any in the near future?
  • What is your mother's estate plan? What assets are in your name? How old is she? How is her health?
  • Do you have any safety deposit boxes? Where? What is in them? When were you last there? What have you taken out of them?
  • Do you have a will? Will you produce it?
  • Since the case began, have you transferred any assets for less than full consideration? Have you sold any capital assets in the last year?
  • Since the case began, have you closed any bank accounts? Since the case began, have you opened any bank accounts?
  • Are you claiming any non-marital property? Factual basis?
  • Have you had any property or asset appraised?
  • What debts do you have? Give balance and monthly payments for each one.
  • What trips have you taken in the last twelve months?
  • Have you made out any loan applications to banks or other financial institutions over the last three years? Took out consolidation loan with DesPlaines Bank? When? How much? For what purpose? Status?
  • Have you made any gifts to your spouse during the marriage?
  • How much have you paid to your attorneys in this case?
  • Anyone holding property for you, or has anyone in the last three years?
  • Is the marriage irretrievably broken? If so, since what time?
  • Who is Laura_____? Is she your girlfriend? How long has this relationship been going on? Where does she reside? Do you pay for her meals? Any trips with her? Pay her bills? Pay for any of her expenses? Borrowed money from her? Lent her money? Have any investments or bank accounts with her? Any joint charge accounts or loans with her? She's used your charge card?
  • Have you held in the last three years, or are you holding property for anyone?
  • Did you and your spouse enter into a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement?
  • Have you received or made any gifts in excess of $500 in the last year?
  • What was the date of separation?
  • Additional money spent on boat? Value of boat equipment?
  • Does anyone owe you money?
  • Any IRS audits?
  • Pending lawsuits other than this one? Pending claims?
  • Have you ever signed your spouse's name, or had anyone besides your spouse sign her name to any income tax returns or documents?
  • Do you have any other assets in co-ownership with anyone else?
  • Other than those you have testified to, do you have any other assets, property or the right to income?
  • Are you contemplating any further investments?
  • You were previously divorced? When? Are there any pending obligations or court proceedings?
  • In May, 2000 did you tell your spouse you'd keep her in court until there's no money left, or words to that effect?
  • Have you placed a tap on your wife's phone?
  • Have you asked anyone to testify on your behalf? Name the person and the subject matter.
  • Are you claiming your spouse dissipated any assets? Consisting of what?
  • What witnesses are you intending to call at trial?
  • Do you have any answers you want to change? Do you waive signature?

Paul L. Feinstein, a Chicago sole practitioner with over 30 years of experience, concentrates his practice in family law with emphasis on divorce litigation, custody and visitation, and appeals. He can be reached at (312) 346-6392. View his Divorce Magazine profile.

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By Paul L. Feinstein| May 26, 2006

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