How do you deal with Lying in Divorce?
This is a common question and common worry. If you are going through a divorce or just received divorce paperwork and your spouse has lied, you need a plan and a strategy to combat the lying. Lying during divorce and lying on various divorce paperwork can be common because sadly, lying is often common.
What do spouses lie about during a divorce?
There are many potential topics or areas of lies, but the following are common/frequent areas of lying:
- What assets the spouse or the parties jointly own;
- The income the spouse earns;
- The value of assets owned;
- The spouse’s relationship or other parents involvement with the children;
- Whether child abuse or child neglect exists or has been committed;
- Whether domestic violence or spousal abuse has occurred;
How should you deal with a spouse who lies about income?
The majority of spouses who lie about income are self-employed or work for closely held family businesses. It is difficult to lie about W-2 wages through being employed at a company because paystubs tell the truth about a spouse’s income. When your spouse is lying or you suspect he or she is lying about income, it is important that you have a knowledgeable family law attorney who can help you navigate researching and investigating your spouse’s income. There are many tools available in a divorce case, through discovery, that allow an investigation into your spouse’s income to determine accurate information. These tools include such things as asking questions (interrogatories), requesting documents (through request for production of documents), depositions (asking the spouse questions under oath) or seeking information through third-party sources (such as obtaining documents from banks, employers, the IRS and other similar locations).
If needed, an experienced forensic accountant can be retained to review and determine accurate information (through cross-referencing various documents and financial transactions of your spouse). Through analyzing this information in depth when needed, incorrect information and lies can be exposed. Equally important is that you involve an experienced family law attorney such as our attorneys at Pingel Family Law who are skilled at working through these issues.
How should you deal with a spouse who lies about their assets during a divorce?
If a spouse is going to lie about assets, it generally involves lies about whether an asset exists or the value of the assets. When a spouse lies about the existence of an asset, he or she is trying to hide the asset from being calculated in the division of the parties’ overall asset and debts. As outlined above, the best way to address attempts to hide assets is to conduct detailed, formal discovery. It may seem easy to a spouse to not share the existence of an asset, but when asked specific, detailed questions directly about the type of asset that was not disclosed, it may become more difficult for him or her to lie about it.
In addition to getting a forensic accountant involved, again, having a skilled family law attorney on your side will help minimize the risk of assets being left out of a divorce division. When financial records are carefully reviewed, including transfers into and out of bank accounts, profits or income received on assets that has to be disclosed through tax return filings and other similar steps, knowledgeable, skilled and educated asset searches can be conducted.
At times it is necessary to involve a private investigator to do some expert research or investigation. Additionally, there are times when it is appropriate to involve third parties such as business partners, family or friends who may have knowledge about the spouse’s assets. During a divorce case, your skilled family law attorney can use subpoenas (a court order requiring a witness to testify) to come to depositions or court to provide information, under oath, about your spouse’s activities and actions.
How should you deal with a spouse who lies about the value of an asset?
Sadly, this is something we deal with frequently in family law and divorces. Generally, the areas where spouses will lie will include things that are a bit more difficult to value such as businesses, jewelry, artwork, classic cars, intangibles such as intellectual property (trademarks, copyrights), and stock options or interests in closely held businesses or corporations. When there are disagreements about the value of a house, it is usually more simple to resolve those through the use of a certified expert appraiser. If you suspect your spouse is lying to you about the value of an asset, the best way to determine and prove he lie is to obtain an expert valuation. There are professionals who specialize in valuing every asset. It is important that you work with a family law attorney who has a great, experienced network of specialists who can provide this type of invaluable guidance and expertise.
How should you deal with a spouse who lies about custody or parenting issues?
The most common lies a spouse will tell related to the children are to overstate his or her involvement with the children, lie about how bonded he or she is to the children, making false allegations of abuse or neglect toward you or lying to try to minimize abuse or neglect that he or she has engaged in. How can you combat these types of lies?
When you have a spouse who is not being honest about his or her history or involvement with the children, the best thing you can do is be well-organized and prepared to proceed to a court trial, if necessary, to present your facts and history to the court. In this situation, having an experienced family law attorney who can guide you through the process of organizing and presenting evidence will be crucial to the truth coming out. Often he or she can guide you in preparing evidence that the court will find credible such as family photos, information children share (in an appropriate way, of course), and third party family members’ and friends’ statements and input about the history. When parents try to hurt or harm the other parent’s relationship with the children during a divorce case, not only this unfair to the children, but it is also a sign of weakness and fear on the part of the other parent. You need a divorce lawyer skilled at implementing strategies to overcome these types of behaviors on the part of your spouse.
While moving forward with a trial is certainly not a guarantee for a successful or preferred outcome, if the other parent is insistent in engaging in behaviors that interrupt your relationship with the children, you often do not have a choice. You are forced- by your spouse, to go to court to ensure that you have a continued meaningful role in your children’s lives. If your children are your top priority, you often don’t have any other choice if the other parent engages in such behavior.
If your spouse is lying about abuse committed toward you (the other spouse), or toward the children, often a guardian ad litem (an advocate for the children) is necessary. This allows this person to speak with the children and get a true understanding of what has transpired. When abuse has occurred, there is often photographs, police or medical records, emails, text messages, or witnesses (family or friends that have seen injuries or bruises). It is important that you work to gather and organize those items and put them in a safe place so the other spouse cannot remove, hide or destroy them.
Allow our team to help expose the lies that you are facing. When lies are exposed, the court can enact consequences that are financial based, an award of attorney fees and even a decision to effect the child custody and parenting time award in your case, based on the court’s failure to believe the lying spouse. In situations where an asset was hidden and a spouse refuses to disclose it, the court has the ability to award the asset to the injured spouse. Allow our legal team to empower you with knowledge so you can take an active role in your case to help us advocate for you. Call Pingel Family Law today to schedule your consultation.
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