7 Tips for Dealing With a Compulsive Liar in a Divorce
Going through the divorce process can be stressful under the best of conditions. When a spouse is a compulsive liar who will say anything to achieve his or her goals in a divorce, the process quickly becomes maddening, highly emotional and potentially damaging to a person's reputation and health.
Spouses will lie for a variety of reasons, which include getting a larger share of community property, avoiding or reducing alimony and child support payments, obtaining custody of children, or simply to exact revenge for perceived wrongs.
Early in the divorce process and in post-divorce modification actions, issues such as custody, visitation, property use, and payment of child or spousal support are decided by a judge based on written motions, supporting affidavits and other documentation provided by the parties. The judge usually knows nothing about the parties involved, at least early in the process.
It is not uncommon in a contentious divorce for a lying spouse to inundate the other spouse with documents making what appear to be serious accusations, from alleging extreme alcohol and drug use to physical violence, child neglect, and abandonment. The typical response from the spouse on the receiving end is to call the accusations a pack of lies.
While that may be true, simply calling the other spouse a liar is not a winning strategy. When dealing with a spouse who is a compulsive liar, a combination of actions can effectively combat the lies and show the liar for the person he or she truly is.
Hire a divorce attorney. It is essential to have an experienced family law attorney on your side. The attorney will likely have dealt with liars in divorces. He or she will help keep you focused. You will likely want to respond in detail to every little lie. An attorney can dispassionately prioritize the issues that must be addressed and will know how to effectively structure a response.
The divorce attorney is your shield in the courtroom. The last thing you should do is take on a spouse by representing yourself in court. The lying spouse will know what buttons to push to make you lose your composure or sidetrack your presentation. An attorney will help keep the argument focused for the judge.
Provide helpful guidance to your divorce lawyer. Channel the anger and frustration you're feeling into positive action to help your attorney prepare for battle. Make copies of the divorce papers. Go through each one and write comments in the margins and on the back of each page. If the alleged facts are false, point out how. If there is no proof for the accusation, note that. Explain what the real truth is and what evidence you could provide to support the truth.
Providing these written comments to your attorney will help you to vent constructively. After reviewing your comments, your attorney can determine what issues need further investigation and may give you a list of documents to gather and people to contact.
Gather evidence. The most effective way to counter a liar is with documentation and hard evidence. Assemble all financial documents you can locate including tax returns, pay stubs, bills, investment account statements, property appraisals and business records. If your spouse tries to minimize his or her income or fails to mention assets, providing written proof can quickly eliminate that tactic.
If an accusation involves alleged poor school performance, get copies of report cards and evaluations by teachers or counselors. If the accusation alleges child neglect or lack of care, get recent medical records.
Make a list of people who can support your version of the facts and provide statements as eyewitnesses of your positive behavior or your spouse's negative behavior. Briefly describe in writing the information you expect each person could provide.
Obtain copies of past e-mails, texts, photos, social media posts, audio recordings, or even surveillance video that may relate to the issues and counter an accusation. For example, if your spouse claims they never called you names, providing an e-mail or text in which your spouse attacked you and called you names can be very effective to chip away at the spouse's credibility.
If this has been a drawn-out process or is a post-divorce action, review past affidavits or depositions for statements that contradict your spouse's current position. Liars tend to inject excessive details into their statements. Over time, it often becomes difficult for liars to keep their lies consistent. Pointing out inconsistencies to a judge can effectively raise doubt about a person's credibility without calling the person a liar outright.
Minimize contact with your spouse and use caution. It may prove wise to restrict communication to emails and texts. Keep copies of everything. If there is a regular child exchange, do it in a public place and take another adult with you when possible. This should minimize the chance for confrontation and will give you a reliable witness to counter accusations of improper behavior during an exchange.
Keep a journal. Once you know a divorce is imminent, start keeping a daily journal to summarize communications between you and your spouse. Describe your children's behavior and interactions between yourself or your spouse and the children. The divorce process can drag on for months. Keeping a journal can be an invaluable tool to refresh your memory about dates and times of specific events.
State the truth. Just because your spouse lies is no reason for you to jeopardize your credibility before a court. In all written or verbal presentations to the court, stick to the facts, don't make assumptions and avoid expressing your opinion. If you are caught lying, you lose credibility making it more difficult for a judge to rule in your favor.
Be patient. This is often easier said than done, especially when the other person simply lies at will. Realize the process takes time. Focus your energy on finding evidence that will contradict the lies or support your position. Rely on friends and family for support.
Dealing with a compulsive liar can be exhausting. Lying spouses will keep lying as long as they know they can get away with it. Working closely with an aggressive, experienced divorce attorney, you can counter the lies, boost your credibility and help a judge make decisions in your favor that are based on the truth. Call the Law Offices of Peter Van Aulen for a free consultation.