When separating, you are likely to have to deal with a number of issues which could include property, debts, assets, child arrangements, or possibly child/spousal support. Out of fear and to protect his/her interests, your spouse may tend to mislead the Court by not quite telling the truth. Or maybe your spouse is exaggerating their income needs. Whilst this can be very frustrating, it is best to work within the legal system. To ensure that you do this, regardless of whether your spouse is simply stretching the truth or blatantly lying to court during the divorce settlement, it is crucial that you remain professional.
This means avoiding petty attacks against your spouse or losing your temper. Even if you have done nothing wrong and are simply pointing out your spouse’s unethical behavior, showing inappropriate behaviour may compromise your case. For example, if you know that your spouse is misrepresenting his/her assets, ask him/her pointed questions about specific bank accounts or holdings. Likewise, if your spouse devolves into name-calling or attacks your character, state calmly that you will not respond to those attacks.
With the growing presence of social media such as Facebook and Twitter, it is also important to remain professional online. If possible, keep all the details of your divorce and separation agreement off the Internet. If you do make any posts referencing your divorce, avoid venting, ranting, or name-calling as these posts can easily reach your spouse or their legal representative and be used against you in court. Even trying to defend yourself against false allegations can backfire if you do not phrase your statements carefully. Ultimately, the details of your divorce are between you, your spouse, your respective legal representatives, and the court. If your spouse is spreading lies that are damaging your reputation, talk to your Solicitor about legal recourse rather than trying to defend yourself online.
When you are dealing with a spouse who is willing to lie to their legal representative and to the Court, protecting your rights can be difficult without a representative. Unless you go through the proper channels to out your spouse’s lies, you can make yourself look vindictive or petty, even if your intentions are only bringing out the truth. Thus, seeking independent legal advice can help you understand the best way to present your evidence, protect your rights, and ensure that your spouse does not get a divorce settlement based on lies or misrepresentations.
Common Divorce Settlement Lies
During your divorce, you may deal with various types of lies, but some of the most common involve money and adultery. In contentious divorces, disgruntled spouses may present the following lies:
- Minimising or hiding income or assets
- Minimising a spouse’s contribution to the household/household finances
- Misrepresenting how joint money was spent
- Accusing a spouse of stealing money
- Accusing the spouse of cheating (either a physical or emotional affair)
Spouses may also accuse their partner of being emotionally unstable, having a drug or alcohol problem, or being a negligent or abusive parent. The allegations can easily be disproved by voluntarily submitting to a mental health or substance abuse evaluation.
In extreme circumstances, some spouses may fabricate child abuse allegations and make false reports to social services about their estranged partner. Rest assured however that child welfare officers known as CAFCASS are generally able to establish quickly which allegations are merited and which are lies intended to gain ground during a divorce settlement.