When taking the opposing spouse’s deposition, a divorce lawyer will ask detailed questions about the real estate and other property owned by the spouses. The questions are relevant to the identification of marital property and the division of the marital estate.
Below are typical deposition questions for spouses about their marital home and other assets they may own.
The marital residence
- When was it acquired?
- What was the source of the down payment?
- Did either party contribute money from an earlier home sale or pre-marital savings?
- Was the down payment a gift from a parent?
- Were other siblings of the gift receiver treated the same?
- Was a “gift letter” prepared and presented?
- Was the down payment a “loan” from a parent?
- Is the loan memorialized in writing?
- Was the non-gifted spouse aware of the transaction?
- How is the real estate titled?
- Is the property mortgaged and are there other lien holders? How much and who?
- What is the balance on any mortgages or liens?
- How much are the monthly payments?
- Taxes and insurance included?
- From what account were the mortgage expenses paid?
- What was the source of the deposits into that account?
- Have there been any improvements/maintenance/remodeling done to the property since purchase?
- What was the source of funding for these projects?
- Are repairs and/or maintenance required?
- Have you obtained cost estimates, and if so, what are they?
- Have you had the property appraised? When, by whom, and what was the appraised value?
- What is your opinion of the property’s value?
Other real estate
Questions similar to the above are likely to be asked about other property owned by the spouses. Other real estate a married couple may own can present many different facts and issues. The family law attorneys for each spouse will need to tailor additional questions to their particular situation. For example, often parties will hold interests in real estate partnerships that own business space and lease the space to the spouse’s business. Family farms present fertile ground for litigating the non-farm spouse’s interests, and often involve complicated family partnerships, farms and farm land that has often been passed from generation to generation, or been the subject of IRS section 1031 exchanges. Or perhaps the handy-man husband moves into his wife’s home, and invests significant sweat equity in remodeling and repairing before the parties decide to divorce.
- What vehicles do you own?
- How are they titled?
- Are they encumbered by debt, and if so, how much?
- What is your opinion of their value?
Life insurance policies
- Do you have any life insurance?
- Does it have a cash value? How much?
- Does the policy have any loans against it? How much?
Antiques, art, jewelry, collectibles
- Do you own any of the following: antiques, art, jewelry, guns, coins, stamps, figurines, tools, etc.
- Do you have any appraisals for these items?
- Are they insured, and if so, for how much?
- Your opinion as to their value?
Jewelry, guns, art, and many collectibles tend to be overvalued by appraisals because appraisals are customarily done for insurance purposes. If you are the spouse seeking to keep these assets after the divorce, it is always a good idea to get a reliable appraisal from someone, say an auction house, who is in the business of selling these items.
- Do you own furniture, furnishings, miscellaneous personal property?
- Your opinion as to their value?
- Do you expect an inheritance? How much?
- Do you own any patents or trademarks? Their value?
- Do you receive or expect to receive royalties? How much?
- Do you expect to receive a settlement from a lawsuit or other contingent or intangible claim? How much?
- Do you expect an income tax refund?
- Do you have unused loss carry forwards or tax credits?
- Have you paid or do you expect to pay estimated taxes?