What Happens If You Lie in Divorce Mediation?

Posted in Divorce,Mediation on March 11, 2020

Divorce mediation is not the same as a court trial. It is a pre-trial meeting in which you and your spouse – with or without legal representation – work out the details of your divorce agreement without a judge’s intervention. You will have the power to agree or disagree with the terms of the divorce during mediation. You are not under oath to tell the truth during mediation. Lying during mediation, however, could have negative repercussions on your divorce case. If a judge finds out you lied in divorce mediation, this could affect decisions such as child custody and support.

You Will Not Face Criminal Charges

Lying during divorce mediation is generally not a crime. In most situations, it will not come with criminal repercussions like lying under oath during a trial (perjury) could. Perjury is a crime in Colorado in which a person knowingly lies while under oath or authorized by law to tell the truth. The penalties for perjury can include prison time of up to six years, as well as fines of up to $500,000. Perjury is a Class 4 felony in Colorado. Lying during divorce mediation is not perjury, however. Prosecutors typically cannot charge you with a crime if someone catches you lying during mediation. Yet you could face other significant consequences, such as being held in contempt of court. Contempt of court can lead to expensive fines and potential jail time.

You Could Lose Your Case

Even if lying during divorce mediation does not constitute a crime in Colorado, a family law judge could take strongly to the deception. A judge could use proof of a lie during mediation as evidence that you are not a fit parent or do not deserve certain awards, such as spousal maintenance (alimony). The judge can see lying behaviors as a negative against one spouse when making other important decisions as well, such as where a child should live.

It is up to a judge’s discretion during child custody hearings in Colorado to determine the fitness of each parent to have physical and/or legal parenting responsibilities. A parent’s fitness can involve many factors, including his or her relationship with the child, ability to care for the child, history of domestic violence, criminal convictions, and alcohol abuse. It could also involve the parent’s willingness to lie during court processes. Proof that one parent lied could give a judge a reason to award primary child custody to the other parent.

The severity of your lie can determine its consequences during divorce mediation. If you lie about your income level, for example, this could have serious penalties. Your income level can decide matters such as how much you will owe your ex-spouse in child support. If the issue you lied about impacts your children, a judge will most likely take the lie very seriously. A major deception could impact the outcome of your divorce hearing. Minor deceit, however, may not play a role in the future of your divorce case.

How to Prove Your Spouse Lied During Mediation

If you believe your spouse is guilty of lying during divorce mediation, find evidence that supports this belief. Hire a divorce attorney to help you investigate your spouse and obtain proof of deceit. Proving to a judge that your spouse lied during mediation could work in your favor during discussions regarding child custody, child support and spousal maintenance. Seeking the truth could lead to a higher child support amount if your spouse was lying about his or her income, for instance. It could also lead to penalties against your spouse if he or she told a major lie.

If you believe your spouse lied during divorce mediation, find evidence of the lie to present to the courts rather than fighting back with deceit or inappropriate actions of your own. Proof of a lie could come in the form of asset and debt documentation. This may include bank statements, income tax returns, credit card statements, pay stubs and household bills that prove your spouse lied about his or her financial status during mediation. Formal discovery techniques with help from a divorce mediation lawyer could produce these documents and others that may help you prove deceit. You may also hire a private investigator. Working with an attorney could yield the best outcome possible for your divorce case.

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