What Happens When a Father Lies in a Custody Case?

If it is discovered that a father has lied under oath in a child custody case, then:

What Happens When a Father Lies in a Custody Case?
  1. His statements may be viewed with suspicion and subjected to further scrutiny by the courts.
  2. His custodial case can weaken and he may even lose custody.
  3. His alimony and child support payments can increase (if he lies about his income).
  4. He can face charges of perjury and/or contempt of court.

Custody battles happen when parents cannot agree on child custody or a parenting plan. Usually, such battles are characterized by intense emotions, high conflict, aggressiveness, and resentment. The high emotional quotient of such cases may motivate a parent to lie or bend the truth because he/she wants the child’s custody desperately. A parent may lie to the courts or in court documents. For example, a parent can lie about his /her visitation rights being violated, monthly income, new partner, substance addictions, or falsely deny allegations of child/spouse abuse.

When a father lies in a custody case, he can face the following consequences:

Negatively Viewed by the Courts

If the mother or the courts catch the father lying, then the father gets branded as a liar and every statement he makes about the custody case can be viewed with suspicion. As an aside, if the courts feel that both spouses are lying, they can order a custody evaluation.

Once the father is caught lying, his earlier statements and documents too can come under scrutiny. The courts have continuous jurisdiction over child custody orders, and if the mother discovers that the father has made a false statement, she can ask the courts to re-evaluate the original custody order.

A Weakened Custody Case

The courts then assess the father’s lies to check if they are going to work against the best interests of the child. If the lies are severe enough to impact the child’s upbringing – for example, a father lying about his monthly income, the quality of his home, or his addictions – then the courts can dig deeper. If they find damning evidence, the father’s custody case can weaken and there are chances that he may even lose custody.

However, when the lies are minor and not serious, i.e., they do not go against the best interests of the child, the courts may overlook them. Still, don’t take the chance. Tell the truth.

Increased Alimony and Child Support Payments

When a father lies about his income, it implies he is hiding income and assets. When this lie is discovered in a custody case, the wife can take legal action and ask the courts to increase the amount she received in alimony with retrospective effect. This applies to child support as well.

Charges of Perjury or Contempt of Court

When it is proven that a father has lied under oath, the courts can find that he has perjured himself (perjury is the act of intentionally making false/misleading statements or signing legal documents that are false or misleading), which is, at a minimum, contempt of court.

Though charging a parent with perjury is rare, the other parent’s family law attorney can file such a charge to extract the truth from the lying parent. If the father is found guilty of contempt of court, he can face fines, imprisonment, probation, and/or community service. The courts award the sentence based on the circumstances of the case. If the father is convicted, then aside from paying the court’s punishment, he may also lose his job, especially if he is employed in a profession in which truth is valued (for example, law enforcement).

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About the Author: Marco Brown
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Marco C. Brown was named Utah’s Outstanding Family Law Lawyer of the Year in 2015. He graduated with distinction from the University of Nebraska College of Law in 2007 and is currently the managing partner of Brown Family Law, LLC.
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