During divorce proceedings, you and your spouse must provide various information concerning your situation. This can include financial data, asset information, and marital life details. You both are required to be honest. Unfortunately, you might be dealing with a spouse who, seeking an advantage in the divorce, misrepresents information or lies. Your spouse’s dishonesty can affect how issues are settled, such as property division or spousal support. To address and prevent any injustices, you can take steps to prove that your spouse is lying. If the court finds that they weren’t truthful, your spouse could face serious consequences.
Our experienced Los Angeles attorneys at Claery & Hammond, LLP carefully review the facts of our clients’ cases to pursue fair outcomes. Schedule a consultation with us by calling (310) 817-6904 or submitting an online contact form today.
What Your Spouse Must Be Honest About
In short, your spouse must be honest about everything. Being forthright is crucial for ensuring that decisions are equitable.
A few specific areas where your spouse must be upfront include:
- Financials: Your spouse must provide accurate information about their taxes, income, bank accounts, credit cards, and retirement accounts, among others.
- Assets: Your spouse must disclose everything they own, regardless of whether it was acquired before or during the marriage.
- Marital/family life: Your spouse should not hide information concerning their involvement (or lack of involvement) in raising your children or whether they have a history of domestic violence or child abuse/neglect.
Generally, spouses are dishonest about these and other details when they want to get the upper hand in the divorce. Let’s explore this further.
What Happens If Your Spouse Lies?
A couple of things can happen if your spouse willfully misrepresents information. You might not be able to settle your case outside of court. For instance, you may not be able to pursue alternative dispute resolution methods, such as mediation, because these require a willingness to be truthful and open to negotiation. If you can’t agree on issues together, your case must be litigated, which is costly and time-consuming.
Having a lying spouse might also mean that issues aren’t settled equitably.
Below are a few examples of matters affected by dishonesty:
- Spousal support: The decision to award spousal support is based partly on the supporting spouse’s ability to pay and their assets and debts. If your spouse lied about their income or what they own, you might be denied support.
- Child support: Like spousal support, child support amounts depend, in part, on each parent’s income. Again, misrepresenting wages, salaries, bonuses, or other financial information can lead to a lower award than is necessary.
- Child custody: Several factors are considered in custody matters, including parenting ability and a history of violence. If your spouse falsely claims that you were abusive, neglectful, or could not competently care for your child, you could lose legal or physical custody.
- Property division: In California, marital property is divided equally between spouses. If your spouse did not fully disclose assets, you could end up with less than them.
Your Spouse Can Face Consequences for Lying
The court could impose various sanctions on your spouse if they were dishonest. At the end of most divorce documents is the following statement: “I declare under penalty of perjury under the laws of the State of California that the foregoing is true and correct.” When your spouse signs these forms, they acknowledge that they are required to tell the truth. If they knowingly lie, they could be charged with perjury, which is punishable by fines and imprisonment.
Even if not charged with perjury, your spouse can be subject to several sanctions for lying. For instance, they could be fined and required to pay attorney’s fees and court costs. If they hid property, they might be ordered to relinquish the asset or pay you the full value of it. In child custody matters, if they lied about you abusing or neglecting your child, they might not get custody and may be allowed only supervised visits.
How Do You Prove That Your Spouse Was Dishonest?
If you suspect that your spouse was dishonest, you must prove their deceit. This burden requires producing evidence to counter their claims and statements.
You and your family law attorney can gather evidence by:
- Carefully analyzing the documents and financial records your spouse submitted,
- Hiring expert witnesses to provide professional opinions,
- Formally requesting information through discovery, and/or
- Taking your spouse’s statements under oath at a deposition.
Get Legal Help with Your Case
Divorces are rarely straightforward. Sometimes one party might do something that puts the other at a disadvantage. Protect your rights and seek a fair outcome by hiring a skilled attorney.
To speak with a member of the Claery & Hammond, LLP team, please contact us at (310) 817-6904. We proudly serve the people of Los Angeles.