How do you go through a custody battle and the only thing they can use is making up lies, manipulating the children to tell lies?

If you want my answer, skip to paragraph three.

1. First, it may be the case (and it may be that you need to acknowledge) that the problem is not simply a matter of lies being told, but also a matter of lies being believed. Lies are useless to the liar (even counterproductive for the liar) unless they are believed.

2. Plenty of divorce litigants lie. Judges have come to expect it. Indeed, in my experience, judges expect to be lied to. As a result, most (most, not all) become skeptical of virtually everything they are told (and when you are lied to on not just a daily, but on an hourly, basis, one can sympathize with them to a point). These kinds of jaded, cynical judges instead rely upon their own subjectivity to deter who are the good guys and bad guys, the winners and losers (i.e., “I know’em when I see’em.”). The problem with this approach is that such judges come to rely upon stereotypes, conventional wisdom, and personal bias as substitutes for the difficult and tedious work of impartially ferreting out the facts and the truth.

3. If you have such a judge in your case, there is little to nothing you can do to overcome or improve your plight. As I see it, there are only two options open to you: 1) provide the court with indisputable, irrefutable independently verifiable proof that your spouse is lying and/or that you are telling the truth; or, if you cannot do that (and few can), then 2) scrutinize and analyze your spouse’s testimonial evidence to expose the contradictions, discrepancies, and other holes in it. In other words, show from your spouse’s own stories how and why it is harder to believe those stories could be true than it is to believe they are lies.

4. Let me give you an example of option 2 from my own cases. First, a little background. In many divorce cases it is standard operating procedure for many wives/mothers to take an “ends justify the means” approach, which includes accusing the husband/father of abusing and/or sexually abusing the children. This is done for the purpose of poisoning the court against the husband/father from the outset of the case, so that the court rules against the husband/father in making its child custody award out of disgust and/or an abundance of caution (i.e., “keep the children away from dad to ensure that IF he is an abuser, he cannot abuse them”[1]; this gambit only works because a) our culture is so willing to believe the lie that most husband/fathers are abusive and that wives/mothers almost never are; and b) even if the mother is caught lying, she is almost never held to account for it by the court.[2] So it was in this particular case where I represented the husband/father.

5. Before the divorce action was filed, the wife/mother filed for a child protective order, but fortunately told a clumsy, inconsistent story about it, which allowed me to persuade her attorney to persuade her to dismiss the request for the child protective order to avoid having her credibility damaged any more than necessary.

6. Of course, wife/mother—wishing to save face—would never admit she dismissed her child protective order case because she’s a liar. Instead, she claimed that she dismissed for child protective order case to “protect” the children from the “trauma” of being questioned about whether their father had abused them. Really, that’s what she claimed. The upshot of the mothers actions and her explanation for them was that she would rather the children continue to have contact with an allegedly abusive father than have the children questioned to see whether they would corroborate their mother’s child abuse allegations against their father.

7. Later, after the divorce action was filed, wife/mother tried to get temporary orders of sole child custody in the divorce action, again trotting out the same child abuse claims as the basis for her motion. I cited the court to the wife’s previous voluntary dismissal of her child protective order case and her bizarre explanation for doing so. Wife’s sole custody motion was denied. It doesn’t always work out this way, but in this case fortunately, it did.



[2] No fines, no jail sentences, no criminal prosecution for making false child abuse reports to courts and law enforcement.* Indeed, it is often the case that even when a parent (especially the mother) is caught lying about abuse claims it doesn’t utterly destroy the parent’s credibility in the eyes of the court. When the odds are so low of a) people being believed for telling the truth; and b) people being punished for lying, it should come as no surprise that people will lie and lie a lot.

*”Why?,” you may ask. Some will justify going easy on liars by arguing that if false abuse reports are harshly punished, then it might have a so-called “chilling effect” on legitimate abuse reporting. In other words, a genuine abuse victim or witness might fail to report the abuse for fear of being branded and punished as a liar. The problem with such a policy is that it ends up creating more victims than it prevents. When the presumption of innocent until proven guilty gets turned on its head, we get a policy and practice of “It is better that 100 innocent men go to jail to help ensure the 1 guilty man doesn’t go free.”

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277

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