What If Your Spouse Lies During Divorce Proceedings?
If your spouse has a history of lying, you can surmise that it may also happen during your divorce. How should you respond if your spouse is using untruths and obfuscation during your divorce?
Divorce lies: What people lie about and how to respond
Most people agree that lying is wrong, but when it comes to divorce, your spouse may justify their dishonesty if they believe their circumstances warrant it.
While lying often backfires on a dishonest spouse, it can have grave consequences for you and your children if they succeed in family court during your divorce proceedings.
Lies about money
Financial matters are the crux of many divorce disputes – and the cause of many lies during discovery. To avoid marital property division or alimony or child support obligations, a spouse may try to understate income, overstate personal liabilities, or hide assets.
To reduce their post-divorce spousal or child support obligations, a spouse could underreport income by not reporting bonuses or cash earnings, diverting income to a third party, or delaying salary, raises, or business contracts until after the divorce is final.
Another tactic a spouse could use to keep financial assets from division is to overstate liabilities and debt by exaggerating business debts, credit card balances, or mortgage balances.
Your spouse could attempt to hide assets by failing to report bank accounts, investments, or even tangible assets like artwork or cars. They may temporarily transfer assets to a friend or family member or try to get someone to help them under-appraise assets or manipulate financial statements to make a business look less profitable in light of their pending legal process.
How to respond
Identifying a spouse’s deceptive financial reporting can be particularly challenging without the help of a financially knowledgeable expert. Getting assistance from a divorce financial planner, an experienced forensic accountant, or even a private investigator may be warranted.
Lies about your character
In an effort to manipulate a court’s perception in their favor, a spouse could manufacture lies about their soon-to-be ex’s behavior and character.
False claims of infidelity
Infidelity in no-fault divorce states has little or no bearing on a divorce, but it can be grounds for divorce in at-fault divorce states. Even in some no-fault divorces, it can affect a court’s opinion of your overall character, which could potentially render serious consequences for you.
False accusations of abuse or neglect
In an attempt to sway a court’s decisions about child custody, a spouse may falsely claim that they have been abused or neglected or that their children have been abused or neglected.
Lies about mental health or addiction
To gain custody or other forms of control, a spouse may portray their soon-to-be ex-spouse as someone with substance abuse or mental health issues.
Misrepresentation of financial instability
One spouse could try to portray the other as financially irresponsible in an effort to affect the court’s divorce settlement decisions, especially when it comes to spousal support and child support.
How to respond
Dealing with character assassination can be infuriating and frustrating. It's critical to maintain composure and limit communication with a lying spouse to emails and texts, which you can keep as evidence. Then, instead of reacting with anger, you can fight these allegations with evidence.
Artifacts of evidence may include phone records and credit card statements that refute claims about your infidelity, financial records that reflect responsible money management, or a clean drug test or mental health assessment from a professional.
Lies about events
A spouse may resort to untruths and distortions about their spouse’s past behavior or diminish their own bad behavior to gain favor with the court.
Denying their own misbehavior
A spouse may deny physical or financial misbehavior to paint a skewed portrait of themselves to the court during divorce.
Twisting the truth
A spouse may take an ounce of a truthful event and turn it around to make it appear nefarious, so the other spouse looks bad.
A spouse might invent behaviors and events depicting their other half as a wrongdoer in order to gain favor with the court during the divorce process.
How to respond
You'll want to calmly respond with as much tangible evidence as possible. This may include emails, texts, photos, or videos. It’s helpful to have a network of character witnesses who are willing to vouch for you before the court.
Remember that when your spouse is lying, it’s not only about having evidence to refute it; it’s also about presenting that evidence the right way in court. That’s where your divorce attorney plays a vital role.
Want legal advice from an experienced family law attorney without paying a hefty retainer fee? Hello Divorce offers hourly legal consultations. Learn more here.
When should you hire a private investigator?
Lies can seriously impact many terms of your divorce. If you suspect that your spouse has hidden assets or made allegations that could affect the custody or support of your children, you want as much evidence as possible to support your side. A private investigator can help gather evidence you would not otherwise have access to. It’s a good idea to discuss this with your attorney to make sure it’s necessary and conducted in a legally compliant way.