No announcement yet.

Lying in Family Court

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Lying in Family Court

    Featured Article

    Lying in Family Court

    William A. Eddy, LCSW, Esq.

    When I became a family law attorney/mediator after a dozen years as a
    therapist, one of the biggest surprises was the extent of lying in
    Family Court: lies about income, assets and even complete fabrications
    of child abuse and domestic violence. Why would people lie so much, I
    wondered? How did they get away with it? The following is my
    psychosocial analysis of what I believe has become an epidemic:

    Men lie: It was a sad phone call from a relatively new client. He
    informed me his father had just died. He had quit his job and was
    moving back east to wrap up his father's affairs. He asked me to tell
    his wife's attorney that he would not be able to pay child support for
    their three young children for a long time. (There was no support
    order yet.) The next day, his wife's attorney called me back and
    described how upset his wife was to learn of her father-in-law's
    death. So upset, that she had called his father -- and had a nice

    Women lie: A mother involved in a custody battle told the court in
    dramatic detail about physical abuse at the hands of her husband. She
    even submitted reports of visits to doctors and emergency rooms for
    her bruises. However, a court-ordered psychological evaluation
    determined the allegations were false. The court agreed and awarded
    custody to the father. A few weeks later the mother picked up the
    children from school and disappeared for a year. She was caught, sent
    to jail for parental kidnaping, and the children returned to the

    Societal Increase in Lying
    Surveys show that lying has increased over the past decade. In 1999
    alone: the President was tried in Congress for perjury; a popular
    journalist in Boston was publicly fired for fabricating heart-rending
    stories; and a scientist was exposed for falsifying research on a
    high-profile safety issue. We have become a society of individuals.
    Personal gain is more important than community values. In this mobile
    "information age," we rely on strangers and are easily fooled. In
    business, politics, and the movies, winning is everything. Successful
    manipulation and deceit are admired. In court, lying is often rewarded
    and rarely punished.

    No Penalty for Perjury
    Divorce Courts rely heavily on "he said, she said" declarations,
    signed "under penalty of perjury." However, a computer search of
    family law cases published by the appellate courts shows only one
    appellate case in California involving a penalty for perjury: People
    v. Berry (1991) 230 Cal. App. 3d 1449. The penalty? Probation. Perjury
    is a criminal offense, punishable by fine or jail time, but it must be
    prosecuted by the District Attorney--who does not have the time.
    Family Court judges have the ability to sanction (fine) parties, but
    no time to truly determine that one party is lying. Instead, they may
    assume both parties are lying or just weigh their credibility.With no
    specific consequence, the risks of lying are low.

    Personality Disorders and Patterns of Lying
    Family Courts see everything: from small deceptions about income to
    the complete fabrication of abuse. The increase in lying seems to
    correspond with the rising number of people with personality
    disorders, as I described in my Spring 1998 newsletter. They often
    have internal distress, less empathy for others, a highly adversarial
    world view, an intense and manipulative nature, and a sense of
    victimization which they use to justify harming others. Studies show
    they have identifiable and predictable patterns of lying:

    A party with a Borderline Personality Disorder may lie out of anger or
    even self-deception in an effort to maintain a bond with their child
    or spouse--or to retaliate for abandonment. Battles over custody and
    visitation are common.

    One with a Narcissistic Personality Disorder may lie to boost
    themselves or to put other people down. They enjoy manipulating the
    truth and other people's lives. They may experience excitement and a
    sense of power by successfully fooling the court and dominating the
    other party. An Antisocial Personality Disorder is characterized by
    deception, manipulation, and disrespect for authority. Commonly known
    as "con artists," they are skilled at breaking the rules. They
    fabricate detailed events and use the courts to get revenge or money.
    Their lack of empathy makes them constant liars -- and often violent.

    A Histrionic Personality Disorder is often highly dramatic and
    demanding, with superficial charm and seductiveness. They are skilled
    at lying and self-deception. Fabrication is also common.

    Detecting Deception
    Few people can visually detect deception. Research on judges, federal
    polygraphers, psychiatrists and college students showed that all were
    no better than chance using a standardized videotape test. Only Secret
    Service Agents were better than average at distinguishing truth and

    Some studies show that the more confident a person is, the less
    effective they are at lie detection. Studies of police investigators
    and customs inspectors found that those with more experience were less
    accurate than novices.

    Ineffectiveness of Non-Verbal Cues
    Many people believe they can determine whether someone is lying by
    observing non-verbal behavior, such as: touching their face, blinking
    their eyes, suddenly itchy nose, neck-scratching.

    These behaviors indicate anxiety, which most people experience when
    then lie. However, most people display anxiety when they are under any
    pressure, such as being challenged about their honesty. Therefore,
    these symptoms are unreliable.

    Studies show that the only way non-verbal cues may be truly helpful is
    to observe a person over time. Their changes in non-verbal behavior
    may be a more accurate indicator of lying.

    An additional problem is that those with antisocial personalities
    actually become less anxious when they lie, and therefore do not
    exhibit behavioral cues and do not register anxious symptoms on lie
    detector tests.

    Effectiveness of Examining Records
    Studies have shown that examining documents for contradictions has
    been more reliable than focusing on non-verbal cues. In fact, they
    have found that evaluators were best at lie detection when they were
    blind to nonverbal cues. Those who just read transcripts were the most

    What Can Be Done?
    The adversarial process naturally encourages lying: winning is the
    goal, liars get equal time, and the most skillful adversary wins --
    regardless of the truth. To overcome this inherent problem, we need:

    More use of mediation: Mediation and negotiation focus on
    problem-solving for the future. Lying about the past has little
    relevance. The parties know the lies and do not tolerate them.

    More judicial time: Most divorce court decisions are made in 10-20
    minute hearings. Judges must determine the custody and visitation
    schedule, the amounts of child support and spousal support, and often
    whether restraining orders are appropriate. There is little time to
    analyze each declaration to determine who is lying. Judicial lectures
    alone have little impact or the opposite effect on personality

    More judges with more time could reduce lying from the start. More
    attorney research: Attorneys often advocate for their clients'
    statements without investigation. They often assume they will never
    know who is telling the truth. Instead, they should learn about
    personality disorders and patterns of lying, more carefully question
    their clients, and more aggressively seek corroborating evidence.

    More therapist awareness: Therapists are trained to form impressions
    based on interpersonal observations rather than external evidence.
    They form strong bonds and believe their clients. They can provide the
    court with observations of their own client's behavior, but should not
    reach conclusions based on hearing one side. They need to be more wary
    of manipulation in court cases.

    More consequences: It is an established dynamic of human behavior that
    rules made, but not enforced, are increasingly broken. Lying in court
    is already illegal. So long as there is no penalty for perjury, lying
    will increase. Family Court sanctions (fines) should be used for

    More training: Court-related professionals need to realize that you
    cannot tell who is lying by simple observation. Yet one can learn
    personality dynamics which help indicate who might be lying, patterns
    of lying and where to look for evidence.

  • #2
    Lying in Family Court

    Off-topic in alt.romance. Please remove from headers.
    Thank You,


    Doug Laidlaw etc....


    • #3
      Lying in Family Court

      catbrier wrote:
      Off-topic in alt.romance. Please remove from headers. Thank You, Cat Doug Laidlaw etc....

      Off topic in Please remover from headers.

      Thank You



      When did we divide into sides?

      "As president, I will put American government and our legal system back
      on the side of women." John Kerry, misandrist Democratic candidate for