When your divorce has a formal, court-ordered process of discovery, it often includes depositions. This is a process that takes place out of court but with a court recorder present, where your spouse’s attorney asks you questions under oath. This can be a stressful thing to prepare for and attend, and it’s helpful to have the legal knowledge and support of a skilled divorce attorney.

Formal discovery can be requested in uncontested divorces, and it is a required part of contested divorces. Discovery is what happens when spouses exchange financial information and other important documents about their assets and debts. This is essential to resolve basic divorce issues, such as division of property, spousal support, and child support. A deposition typically covers questions related to these financial documents.

Many people understandably feel very nervous before a deposition. Preparing your information, documents, and knowledge can be helpful in diminishing this stress. It is also helpful to know what to expect.

Understanding the Purpose of Depositions

You, your spouse, and relevant witnesses will be questioned under oath during a deposition, providing each attorney with the information they need prior to a trial or negotiation. The purpose of these questions and information is to:

  1. Determine the story, information, and knowledge of each spouse.
  2. Find evidence to support the information provided by the other spouse.
  3. Determine if the case is likely to go to trial and maybe limit certain challenges of the divorce prior to trial.
  4. Use deposition testimony against the testimony given in court to catch an individual in a lie.

Depositions largely handle financial information, but there may be other information covered, such as a spouse’s personal life. If one spouse has made allegations of abuse, neglect, or adultery, both spouses can expect attorneys to ask questions relating to these allegations.

How to Handle a Deposition in a Divorce

As you prepare and enter the deposition, there are several important things you should keep in mind. Some of these include:

Always Tell the Truth

The most important thing to keep in mind is to always tell the truth. Deposition testimony is always under oath. Lying or obscuring the truth could result in criminal charges based on contempt of court. If you don’t know the answer to a question or can’t remember, say so. An attorney will always check the information you provide, and they will use your deposition testimony if it contradicts any statements you later make in court.

Do Not Hurry Your Answers, and Answer Clearly

Your answers can be simple and straightforward. Think about the answer before you give it, and do not give a confusing answer. Space after a question and before your answer allows you to properly structure your answer, and it gives your attorney time to object if the question is unfair. Be aware that the testimony in a deposition is written, so your tone of voice or jokes will not be clear in the transcript. If you find that you misspoke or were mistaken, correct yourself.

Provide Only the Information You Are Asked For

Answer questions concisely. If you can give a simple answer, such as a “yes” or “no,” you should provide only that answer and no additional information. Even if you think the information is relevant, do not give extra information or qualifications to your answer. Any excess information you provide can be used against you.

Ask for Clarification

If you don’t understand a question, need it repeated, or need clarification, ask. Listen carefully to the question, be sure you understand what is being asked, and ask an attorney to repeat the question if necessary.


Q: Do Depositions Occur During Discovery?

A: When you and your spouse are divorcing with formal discovery, depositions are a very common tool in discovery. It helps each attorney learn essential information about the case and the financial status of each spouse. It also gives them an idea of how a trial or negotiation is likely to go. Not every discovery will have deposition, but many do, especially if either spouse believes that the other is hiding assets. Lying in a deposition is a lie while under oath, and it can result in contempt of court charges.

Q: Is Discovery Worth It in a Divorce?

A: Discovery is required in a divorce, although spouses may opt for an informal sharing of information. Whether the discovery is informal or formal, it ensures that each spouse provides information about all their assets and debts, which is a required part of the divorce. For many couples, getting a formal discovery helps ensure that all assets are accounted for. Formal discovery can be more expensive and take longer, but it can prevent hidden assets or incorrectly inventoried assets.

Q: How Do You Handle a Divorce Deposition?

A: The most effective thing you can do to handle a divorce deposition is to prepare ahead of time, anticipating the questions you are likely to be asked and gathering important financial information. Ensure that you know the accurate and true answers to important financial questions, along with questions regarding any allegations your spouse has made.

You can work with an attorney on planning ahead. An attorney has handled depositions before, and they may have even worked professionally with your spouse’s attorney. This can help you have a better idea of how the deposition will be handled.

Q: What Should You Not Say During a Deposition?

A: You should never lie during a deposition. Deposition testimony is taken under oath, and lying can result in criminal charges if your answers contradict your testimony while in court or you are discovered to be lying another way.

If you don’t know the answer to a question, you are allowed to say that you don’t know. You are allowed to ask for clarification on what you are asked. You are also allowed to take your time to answer. Take advantage of these allowances to ensure that you answer truthfully and as accurately as you can.

Working With a Divorce Attorney to Prepare for Discovery

Not all divorces require formal discovery or depositions. If you are unsure whether this process is needed for your divorce, discuss it with your divorce attorney. They can provide you with detailed and personalized advice unique to your divorce.

At Stange Law Firm, we have worked for many years in many types of divorces. We understand how to anticipate issues like hidden assets or other challenges that may require formal discovery. Our team can help you prepare for the tools of discovery, including deposition. Contact our firm today.