An EBT, which is the abbreviation for an Examination Before Trial, is also known as a deposition. It is a discovery device utilized by both sides in order to prepare for trial. An EBT involves the opposing lawyer asking questions of the other party in which that party has to respond to questions under oath. While no judge is present, the testimony is transcribed under oath by a court reporter and can be used at trial, not to bolster one's testimony but rather to impeach one's testimony. Accordingly, one does not "win" a case at an EBT. The best a client can do is not damage one's case at an EBT. Again, we must keep in mind opposing attorney asks questions in order to gather information and to lock in the opposing party's testimony so that any contradiction during the trial will be subject to impeachment with the EBT transcript. Accordingly, when a party is asked a question at an EBT, it is best to answer the question truthfully and directly but not to elaborate unless the question calls for such an explanation. For example, if a party is wearing a blue long sleeved button down shirt but also has a design, and that party is asked "what kind of shirt are you wearing?", the answer should be a blue shirt. This answer is truthful and direct. It does not elaborate on the length of sleeves, the fact that the shirt has buttons, and other minor colors in the shirt. The more that a party raises extraneous facts, the more ideas for questions are provided to the opposing attorney. A good result of an EBT is where the opposing attorney does not obtain any significant new or damaging information from the party. As stated, there is only a downside when being deposed and there is no upside.


One should be prepared for the EBT by reviewing one's Statement of Net Worth and having financial documents ready to review for questioning. Failure to properly produce documents requested, will result in the case taking more time and ultimately costing more money.

A part should be prepared to answer questions regarding work history, income, needs, expenses and assets. If one is claiming that there is a separate property component, then that party should be prepared to testify regarding this issue and produce any relevant documents. If one is claiming an inability to work because of a disability, then that person should have medical records and be prepared to discuss in depth their medical history and ailments. If one is out of work, then that party should be prepared to discuss their efforts to obtain new employment. If a non-titled spouse is claiming an equitable share of the other spouses' business, then the non-titled spouse should be prepared to testify about direct (work related) and indirect contributions (domestic and child rearing).

It is important for the client to educate his or her attorney with respect to all claims and facts relating to the claims in order to properly prepare and defend the EBT.

At Rieger & Fried, LLP, we represent individuals in deteriorating and in some cases abusive marriages who need to move on with their lives. At Rieger & Fried, LLP, we are not just aggressive litigators, but offer our clients compassion and understanding in these trying times. If you have any questions that need answers about your particular situation, we invite you to call our office and schedule an appointment or consultation.