Truth is Not Relative in Family Law Cases
I have been in court watching the judge lose their patience with far too many litigants to convince me that it is never worth it to lie to the Court, no matter the situation. As William Shakespeare wrote, “truth will out.” No matter how clever you think you are or how well told the lie, there is always a flaw, there is always contradicting evidence and there are always nerves that will betray you.
Don’t Lie to the Judge
In Nevada family law cases, both parties will testify at trial in almost every case. Accordingly remaining silent also is not a good option. Typically silence in a custody or divorce case can be a good indicator to the court that a part of that person’s case is not as good as they would have the judge believe. Further, dismissive answers to specific questions like “I have no idea what you are talking about,” or “ask him/her” can be fatal to your case. These answers are simply not believable when the opposing attorney is asking about a very clearly described event but further tell the court that you have something to hide. It shows the Court that you did not take seriously your oath to tell the truth and nothing but the truth, and makes the judge question every answer you have given or will give.
Don’t Lie to Your Attorney
Lying to your attorney is potentially even more damaging than lying to the judge. I have had several clients who are ashamed of previous problems they experienced or simply did not think that they would be caught. The situation for these clients turns out far worse than it ever would have if I had known about what they were attempting to avoid disclosing early in the case.
The most common things that a litigant will want to hide are drug issues (past or present), previous misdeeds (infidelity or wasting large amounts of money), and financial issues (hidden accounts or large amounts of debt that the other party is unaware of). If the other party is not aware of these things at the beginning of the case, any halfway competent attorney will be able to find these issues while preparing to go before the Court. This is the worst possible time for you to have to explain to your attorney the truth of your situation.
Don’t Lie About Substance Abuse
I have had several clients with current and previous substance abuse problems going through custody disputes. For the clients who were honest with me from the beginning I was able to work with them to find a workable path to not only get themselves clean and sober but also to receive meaningful time with their child or children on a joint custody basis. I don’t want anyone to be fooled into believing this was an easy or quick path. However, the ones who stuck it out with their children’s interests at heart are still enjoy their joint custody today.
Don’t Lie About Debts
On the other hand, I have had a few clients who insist on attempting to hide their substance abuse. These clients will always say they are free of the addiction and will tell the court that testing won’t show any substances. In these cases, when the results come back positive, the Court is not interested in attempting to seek help for this person or any excuses that the person comes up with. Further, as this person’s attorney I no longer can trust that they are truthful in any aspect of the case and as such, it is difficult or impossible to continue representing this person.
Financial issues are exposed differently; however, the result is always the same. For the clients who are forthcoming about the issue, I can advise what can be done to unwind the bad deeds and further determine if there are any mitigating issues with the opposing party to lessen any damage to my client’s case. However, if I am blindsided by these issues at trial, there is no ability to soften the blow for the client and they typically will be penalized by the Court. This penalty can include giving the other side more assets than they would have received, forcing you to pay the other party’s attorney’s fees or even jail time in extreme circumstances.
Telling the Truth Leads to Solutions
With any problem there is a solution. If you have an experienced attorney, they have handled a similar case to yours, if not one with the exact same issues that you are going through or concerned about. An experienced attorney can put you on the best possible path in order to get the things you seek from the court and can help you unwind a myriad of problems that would otherwise prevent you from obtaining your desired results.
The choice is up to you. Are you willing to admit to things that may look bad at first blush? Are you willing to follow the advice of your attorney who is there to help you? Are you willing to patiently follow through to the end? If so, the attorneys at Steinberg Law Group are equipped and ready to handle your case.