Tell me lies tell me sweet little lies.
Can your ex lie to you in your separation and what happens if they do?
Tell me lies tell me sweet little lies sang Fleetwood Mac’s Christine McVie about the looming end of a relationship. But can your ex tell lies during your separation – even if they are sweet or little – and what will happen if they do?
It is one of the most common feelings during a separation or divorce ‘lies are being told, my ex is not telling the truth and I am going to look like a fool when it all comes out’. Rarely does one of our clients not have that feeling at some point during the process.
And that is totally understandable because separation is hard and not something anyone does lightly. It involves a lot of change, a lot of uncertainty and a lot of vulnerability – both financial and emotional. And we all struggle with change and vulnerability which makes us feel like we are being lied to.
But to put it simply it is almost impossible for your ex to lie during a formal separation and get away with it. Exactly as being defacto is a legally recognised relationship and a marriage is a legal process where you sign legally binding documents which are kept on record with a Government department your separation is a legal process which is approved by the court and kept on record.
Every document you submit as part of your separation agreement has to be signed. Every affidavit you submit has to be signed. And those signatures are attesting to the truth and accuracy of the information you are submitting.
To lie in this process can lead to contempt of court or fraud charges and can result in fines and/or prison and can also nullify the separation agreement.
What happens if lies are told?
Recently in England a man has been caught lying about a divorce and along with disgracing himself in his community is now facing fraud and bigamy charges. And because he lied he is also still married to his first wife.
The man and his wife separated in 2009 but kept attending functions together to keep it a secret. The man however forged his wife’s signature on divorce papers so he could marry another woman whom he had a child with. The first wife never knew.
Because the man forged his wife’s signature on the divorce papers they are not valid.
But because the man forged his wife’s signature on the divorce papers they are not valid. So he never actually divorced his first wife and because he wasn’t divorced he also isn’t married to his second wife.
This man has lied to both his wives, forged an official court document, fraudulently signed a marriage certificate and been married to two women at once. He is in a whole world of trouble and is a good example of what can happen if you choose to lie to a court about your circumstances.
But it’s not just lies
But it is not just lies that can see you running afoul of the court. Bad behaviour can also be harmful to any case you bring before a court.
The Family Court of WA recently highlighted a case of bad behaviour in their annual report.
In a case that has been in court for 12 years a woman told so many lies about her ex to their children she was seen as detrimental to their well being and was unable to see them until she underwent therapy. The woman was initially warned to stop talking to the children about her ex and was given every opportunity to put her children’s well being first but simply refused to change. She was initially given no access, then supervised access and is now back to limited unsupervised access but has lost years she could have spent with her children.
Along with telling lies, this woman has not put her children first and the court has had no choice but to limit her access in the children’s interests. It’s tragic that any parents end up in this situation but it does highlight that bad behaviour and lies don’t get you very far in a separation.
It’s hard not to get a little paranoid during a separation or divorce and feel like everyone is out to get you. It’s an unnerving process that you have to get through by digging deep and focussing on the end game.
Hiding money and assets is harder than it looks.
But in the middle of the night when you are lying awake absolutely convinced your ex is hiding something there are three things you should remember.
1: You and your ex are the only ones who haven’t done this before. Your lawyer, the judge and your accountants and financial advisors if you have them, have all been here before. They have seen all the tricks and know all the traps so you need to trust them and their expertise.
2: None of us are that clever. Hiding money and assets is harder than it looks and unless your ex is a billionaire and can afford very good lawyers they cant hide their money that easily. Moving money overseas, hiding money and assets, secret bank accounts and safes full of cash all leave a trail that can be found.
3: Lies will be found out. Just like the guy who forged his wife’s signature on their divorce papers lies will come back to get you. He is in a world of trouble 12 years after he lied. And any document you lie on and sign is void – not worth the paper it is printed on – so if your ex does lie you can always challenge it in the future if you have to.
So they can tell you lies – sweet little lies if they like – but they wont get away with it. So get a good nights sleep and trust Brightside to have your back and keep your ex honest.
Get a good nights sleep and trust Brightside to have your back and keep your ex honest.
For help with your separation or parenting issues call BrightSide
Susan Hewitt is the Principal at Bright Side Family Law, a non-litigious family law and mediation practice. Susan has worked as a lawyer and journalist for almost 30 years. She is an accredited collaborative lawyer and family-law mediator who is committed to helping families through their relationship breakdown in an honest, cooperative and respectful manner.
If you are facing a family law matter call or email Bright Side https://brightsidefamilylaw.com.au/contact-us/