Lies in Divorce Cases -- The General Rule
Most states have adopted a version of the Federal Civil Rules. Civil Rule 11 provides: "(a) Every pleading...of a party...shall be dated and signed.... The signature of a party...constitutes a certificate by the party...that the party ... has read the pleading, and that to the best of the party's...knowledge, information, and belief, formed after an inquiry reasonable under the circumstances: (1) it is well grounded in fact; (2) is warranted by existing law...; (3) it is not interposed for any improper purpose, such as to harass or to cause unnecessary delay or needless increase in the cost of litigation; and (4) the denials of factual contentions are warranted on the evidence or ...are reasonably based on a lack of information or belief.... If a pleading...is signed in violation of this rule, the court...may impose upon the person who signed it...an appropriate sanction, which may include an order to pay to the other party...the amount of the reasonable expenses incurred...including a reasonable attorney fee."
Lies in Divorce Cases -- What is Bad Faith
A party who purposely makes a false statement in a document filed with the court in a divorce case has acted in bad faith, i.e., has violated the requirement in CR 11 that every pleading filed by a party is factually correct, and is not filed for any improper purpose. The false statement can be written (in an affidavit or sworn declaration), or oral (e.g., live testimony given at trial).
How to Ask for Attorneys Fees When Your Spouse Lies
When a false statement under oath is intentionally made by your spouse, you can file a motion for an monetary award for your reasonable expenses in exposing the lie, including your attorney's fees. You have to file a motion for fees under CR 11, and must support your motion with a sworn declaration explaining the nature of the lie, and proving that it was intentionally made. Your declaration can attach documents supporting your declaration. For example, if your spouse testifies that their income is $2000 per month, and you have wage stubs showing income in excess of $4000, the court may well agree with you that your spouse's misstatement was intentionally made. An award of fees could then be made.
Caution -- The Court's Awards Are Often on the Low Side
The courts are often somewhat stingy in their awards of attorney fees. Very often the court will award only a portion of the fees actually earned by your attorney. Nevertheless, it is usually worthwhile to point out the lie to the Court, because this discredits your spouse's testimony on other subjects. Once the Court concludes that someone has lied under oath, the Judge has difficulty believing anything that person says.
Attorney Fees for Bad Faith -- Disclaimer Statement
DISCLAIMER: This Blog is provided for general educational purposes only. By using or participating in this site you agree and understand that there is no attorney client relationship between you and the attorney author. The law changes frequently, and varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. The information provided in this Blog is general in nature and may not apply to the factual circumstances in your situation. The applicable law may be different in the State or States where the relevant facts occurred. For a definitive solution to your situation you should seek legal advice from an attorney who (1) is licensed to practice in the state which has jurisdiction; (2) has experience in the area of law you are asking about, and (3) has been retained as your attorney for representation or consultation.(C) Bruce Clement