How Do You Deal With a Lying Spouse During Divorce?

When your spouse lies during divorce, do you know what to do? If not, this article is for you.

Your spouse is lying on divorce papers and it is time for action

Lying during divorce, including lying on divorce papers, is common because lying, in general, is common.

We will explore in this article what spouses lie about during a divorce, how to deal with that lying spouse and some of the consequences of the deception.

We include different types of lying including lying on divorce papers and lying during verbal testimony.

Here are the topics we will cover.

  1. What do spouses lie about during divorce?
  2. Spouses who lie about income
  3. Spouses who lie about the existence or value of assets
  4. Lying about child custody or parenting issues
  5. Lying about domestic violence
  6. Consequence of lying during divorce

Our family law firm helps good men and women who need great representation. We have offices in Los Angeles, Orange County, and San Diego.

What do spouses typically lie about during divorce?

Here are the most common topics.

  • Income,
  • The existence of assets,
  • The value of assets,
  • The other parent's relationship with the children,
  • Child abuse,
  • Child neglect, and
  • Spousal abuse.

How to deal with a spouse who lies about income

Most spouses who lie about their income are self-employed.

We rarely see a wage earner lie about his or her income because pay stubs usually tell the story.

With self-employed spouses, there is more opportunity to lie. This is especially true with self-employed spouses who operate private companies that are not highly regulated.

For example, a restaurant owner may have a more difficult time lying about his or her income than a private consultant.

So how do you deal with this issue?

You can obtain documents, answers to questions, admissions of fact, and take the other spouse's deposition.

A deposition is a process in which your attorney questions your spouse about any topic related to the divorce.

In a deposition, your spouse must answer the questions under oath and in the presence of the court reporter who types every word anyone speaks on the record.

  • Carefully analyze documents that set forth income and expenses.

These include bank account statements or statements with any financial institution, profit and loss statements, general ledgers, accounts receivable and account payable reports, expense reports, tax returns, etc.

  • Hire an experienced forensic accountant to review all of the financial records.

There is no substitute for this action. Family law attorneys, no matter how skilled and experienced they may be, are not forensic accountants.

You need an independent forensic accountant who not only reviews the financial records but provides guidance to you and your family law attorney on what the records show and what additional records you and your attorney will need.

  • Closely analyze the lying spouse's personal expenses.

Only the government can spend more money than it brings in.

If a spouse claims he or she spends more than he or she earns, that is often proof the spouse is lying.

  • Conduct "discovery" which is the formal request for information.

You can obtain documents, answers to questions, admissions of fact, and take the other spouse's deposition.

A deposition is a process in which your attorney questions your spouse about any topic related to the divorce.

In a deposition, your spouse must answer the questions under oath and in the presence of the court reporter who types every word anyone speaks on the record.

How to deal with a spouse during divorce who lies about assets

The two most common ways to lie about assets is to lie about the existence of an asset or the value of an asset. Sometimes we see both.

Spouses who lie during divorce about the existence of an asset

A spouse who lies about the existence of an asset during the divorce process intends to hide that asset from division.

Lying about existence of an asset usually means the asset must be easy to hide. For example, it is difficult to lie about the existence of a house, as compared to a bank account.

Here is how you deal with the spouse who lies about the existence or value of an asset during divorce

  • Conduct the formal discovery we mentioned above. It is one thing to leave out an asset when not questioned about it. It is quite another to do so when there is a direct question about it and the spouse must answer the question under oath.
  • Carefully review financial records. Income producing assets create taxable events. That means a careful review of tax returns may disclose those hidden assets. That is just one example.
  • Hire an experienced private investigator, especially one who is knowledgeable with asset searches.
  • Find witnesses who are familiar with the lying spouse. It is difficult to lie to everyone. Usually, even a lying spouse has friends or family to whom he or she told the truth. These witnesses may be good sources of information. You have the power to issue subpoenas during divorce. Use that ability to compel witnesses to testify at depositions.

Spouses who lie during divorce about the value of an asset

Lying about the value of an asset is common.

The most common lies during divorce about the value of an asset include the value of a business, and personal property such as jewelry, art collections, coin collections, etc.

It is difficult to lie about the value of the house because a certified appraiser can value the house.

The most important thing you can do when your spouse lies to you about the value of an asset is to value the asset.

If it is a house, get a formal appraisal. If it is a business, hire an experienced forensic accountant to value the business.

If it is jewelry, hire a jewelry appraiser. If it is art, hire an art appraiser. The same is true with vehicles, boats, or any other tangible personal property.

If it is intellectual property such as a patent or trademark, there are professionals who value such intellectual property.

How to deal with a spouse during divorce who lies about custody or parenting issues

The four most common lies a spouse tells regarding child custody or parenting time issues are the following.

  • Lies about your involvement with the children,
  • Lies about your bonding with the children,
  • False allegations of child abuse or neglect, and
  • Lying about child abuse or neglect (denying it) when it really did happen.

How do you deal with these types of spouses?

We will first address items one through three.

The two most important actions you can take when faced against a spouse and parent who is willing to lie to hurt your relationship with your children is to properly prepare for court proceedings and have the courage to proceed to court.

  • The parent who attempts to hurt the other parent's relationship with his or her children is often an insecure coward.
  • These lying spouses and parents project their own shortcomings and insecurities.
  • Either they have an unhealthy level of attachment to the children or they are malevolent individuals who take a sick pleasure from their misconduct.
  • Hire an experienced family law attorney who is knowledgeable and has the necessary courtroom skills in high conflict, child custody cases.
  • Conduct the necessary discovery including perhaps most importantly the deposition of the lying parent and any alleged witnesses the lying parent claims to have, and be ready to proceed to court.
  • It is not coincidence malicious parents like this often cave as court appearances near, and sometimes on the courthouse steps.

You have no guarantees the process will expose the lying parent's misconduct

The family law system is sometimes dysfunctional and does not afford good people the opportunity to present their case in full.

Family law judges often take shortcuts they should not in reaching decisions, especially on child custody issues.

However, look at it this way. What is a reasonable alternative? Are you really willing to surrender your relationship with your children? Will you allow the lying parent to hurt that relationship until it severs?

The answer had better be no if your children are your highest priority.

That brings us to item number four, which is a parent who lies about child abuse he or she committed

Much of what we wrote above is true about how to deal with this kind of parent.

There is one additional action you can take that is beneficial, and that involves a child custody evaluation process or the appointment of the lawyer for the children.

We like this process more when faced against an abusive spouse, because children, especially when they are old enough, are willing to reveal the nature and extent of the abuse in a comprehensive child custody evaluation.

This process may also work well in the first three scenarios we mentioned.

How to deal with a spouse during divorce who lies about domestic violence

We commonly see two types of lies.

  • Spouses who lie by making false domestic violence allegations, and
  • Spouses who lie by denying domestic violence they committed.

False allegations of domestic violence often result in domestic violence hearings

The scenario goes something like this. One spouse files a domestic violence restraining order falsely claiming the other spouse committed domestic violence.

The lie may be about physical abuse or something less serious. California law broadly defines domestic violence so it does not limit it to physical abuse.

Lying about domestic violence a spouse committed may also result in a domestic violence hearing, especially if the victim filed a domestic violence restraining order.

The discovery and deposition process, interview and deposition of witnesses, and the gathering of documentary evidence are critical to exposing the lies. Everything we wrote earlier in this article applies here.

If there is abuse, there is often one or more witnesses to that abuse. There may be photographs, videos or admissions in writings such as emails or text messages.

If there is no abuse, there is often a complete absence of witnesses or evidence of any kind.

While the absence of any independent evidence does not mean there is no abuse, it is uncommon for there to be no evidence.

If a spouse abuses the other spouse for years, the abused spouse likely spoke with someone about it. This may be a friend, family, therapist, or others. There are sometimes text messages, emails, letters or other documentation that discuss the abuse.

Those who abuse their spouse and then deny it, or who make false allegations of abuse during the divorce process deserve the punishment they receive.

Our family law firm has no patience for such types. To reason and compromise with them is often to play in their hands.

They need to learn there are serious consequences to their misconduct.

What are the consequences in family court to a lying spouse?

We often hear a spouse who is a victim of the other side's lies lament about his or her concern the other spouse will get away with the lies. This is a common perspective.

This perspective exists because the victimized spouse believes the lying spouse got away with the lies throughout the marriage so why would lying during divorce be any different.

Fortunately, the California Family Code has dire consequences for lying spouses. That includes all situations including those where a spouse lies about income, assets or makes false allegations of abuse.

The consequences may be both financial and, in child custody situations, the loss of legal or physical custody.

Financial consequences may include attorney's fees and costs against the lying spouse.

If a perpetrator of domestic violence seeks spousal support against the victim, he or she may face a rebuttable presumption against a support award.

In those extreme situations that involve hiding assets, the consequences may include the loss of the asset, or payment for its full value to the other spouse.

This is an expansive topic and an article by itself.

What we write below touches briefly on some of the California Family Code sections that dish out the punishment. We do not cover every code section or every consequence.

California Family Code Sections That Punish Liars

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Family Code 271

Family Codes 1100, 1101 & 2107

Family Code 3027.1

Family Code 3027.5

Family Code 3044

Family Code 4324.5

Family Code 4325

Family Code 6344

Family Code 271

California Family Code 271 punishes a spouse who engages in litigation misconduct. Section 271 allows for attorney's fees and costs against the lying spouse.

Family Codes 1100, 1101 & 2107

California Family Codes 1100, 1101, 2107, and related code sections as well as California case law, provides serious financial consequences to a spouse who lies about income, assets, debts, or otherwise fails to make proper disclosures. Many of these code sections and cases deal with fiduciary duties, and punish spouses who violate their fiduciary duties to the other spouse.

Family Code 3027.1

California Family Code 3027.1 allows for "sanctions" against a parent who knowingly makes false allegations of child abuse.

Family Code 3027.5

California Family Code 3027.5 gives the court the power to order supervised visitation against a parent who knowingly makes false child abuse allegations.

Family Code 3044

Family Code 3044 creates a rebuttable presumption that an award of sole or joint physical or legal custody of a child to a person who has perpetrated domestic violence is detrimental to the best interest of the child.

Family Code 4324.5

Family Code 4324.5 states "In any proceeding for dissolution of marriage where there is a criminal conviction for a violent sexual felony or a domestic violence felony perpetrated by one spouse against the other spouse and the petition for dissolution is filed before five years following the conviction and any time served in custody, on probation, or on parole, the following shall apply:

(1) An award of spousal support to the convicted spouse from the injured spouse is prohibited.

(2) If economic circumstances warrant, the court shall order the attorney's fees and costs incurred by the parties to be paid from the community assets. The injured spouse shall not be required to pay any attorney's fees of the convicted spouse out of the injured spouse's separate property.

(3) At the request of the injured spouse, the date of separation, as defined in Section 70, shall be the date of the incident giving rise to the conviction, or earlier, if the court finds circumstances that justify an earlier date.

(4) The injured spouse shall be entitled to 100 percent of the community property interest in the retirement and pension benefits of the injured spouse..."

There is more to this code section so this is only a summary of it.

Family Code 4325

Family Code 4325 states if the spouse who seeks spousal support was criminally convicted for a domestic violence misdemeanor or convicted for a misdemeanor that results in a term of probation pursuant to Section 1203.097 of the Penal Code, against the other spouse, within five years prior to the filing of the dissolution proceeding or during the course of the dissolution proceeding, there is a rebuttable presumption.

That presumption is the convicted spouse should not receive spousal support from the spouse who was the victim.

Section 4325 has additional provisions regarding attorney's fees and costs, date of separation and even retirement benefits.

Family Code 6344

California Family Code 6344 gives the court the power to award attorney's fees to the prevailing party in a domestic violence restraining order action.

Now you know the starting point for dealing with the lying spouse during divorce

We hope you enjoyed this article. We are experienced and highly skilled California family law attorneys. We put that experience and skill to work for our clients.

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