What happens if you lie under oath in a Michigan divorce trial?
Even the most callous of persons will agree that there is nothing uplifting about divorce. Ending any kind of significant relationship is complicated, sad, confusing, and often incredibly emotional. Going through this with a marriage multiplies those feelings tenfold and we haven’t even factored in property division details, child custody, and financial support. The whole thing is a train wreck waiting to happen, yet in spite of its known calamities and severe emotional and physical strain; divorce is so commonplace today that it has become part of the relationship landscape.
Your relationship in court
Sadly, many divorce cases fuel discontent, anger, or worse among parties and even the calmest and cool-headed can resort to mud-slinging or slander. Petty arguments might seem as such in the moment but when one or both members of a marriage start embellishing stories or telling “innocent” lies in an attempt to look better in court, grave consequences will follow.
It would be great if divorce cases had a little more sunshine and roses and lying about things wouldn’t happen but the fact is that lying under oath, or perjury, happens quite often and many people often forget it is a federal crime with accompanying penalties. If you’re a straight shooter and tell your side of the story with honesty and integrity, there’s nothing to worry about. But it’s not always that easy for some people.
The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth
Most of us have seen TV courtroom dramas in that moment when a witness raises his hand and swears to answer all questions truthfully. The moment you agree to tell the truth legally binds you to do so. You are under oath and lying while under oath is an express route to trouble.
For some people it is easy to slip into a groove of misrepresenting facts in an effort to secure an advantage in the proceedings, but lying brings more loss than gain and the more you do it the worse it gets. It is also critical to understand that being under oath is not limited to a courtroom and you’re not off the hook when you walk out.
The fine print
Nearly every document submitted in a court case includes a penalty of perjury statement. Michigan divorce petitions require parties to agree that all statements therein are true and once signed, are treated as under oath. Language to this effect in documents often appears as such: I certify that the information contained herein is true. I am aware that if any of the information contained therein is willfully false, I am subject to punishment.
Truth or consequences
While divorce cases in civil courts have limited power to punish for perjury, judges can elevate the case to a prosecutor for criminal enforcement including probation, fines, and up to five years of prison time. Deceit while under oath can easily result in a judge finding the offending party in civil contempt of court and any prior decisions made during that period will likely be revisited, revised, corrected, or altogether thrown out.
For more help with divorce case law, contact Gucciardo Law Firm at (248) 723-5190 or gucciardofamilylaw.com.
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