What Happens If You Commit Perjury in Family Court?

Perjury is the act of lying under oath.

And we all know from 5th grade civics class that this is a crime in and of itself.

But, unfortunately, it’s incredibly common in family court, as well as court in general. It’s supposed to be punishable as a criminal act, and in a perfect world, all people who commit perjury would face consequences.

Reality is far from perfect.

So what really happens when someone commits perjury in family court? Read on to find out more about what the consequences typically involve.

Perjury in Family Court

Family court typically involves parties who are going through a divorce or who are seeking custody of children.

In some cases, these conflicts can extend for the majority of the children’s lives and can become quite nasty.

Therefore, it isn’t uncommon for people to lie in family court. They may lie about things like abuse, paying for child support or other things that blatantly aren’t true.

The goal for both parties in family court is often to gain custody of the children. In some cases, the goal is the illicit a higher child support payment, or have the child support payment lowered.

While both parties sign witness statements under the penalty of perjury, unfortunately, it doesn’t really mean much to the court of law. The cases are often “he said,” “she said,” and need to be arbitrated based on who has the “best story” or which lawyer is the most skilled at ensuring his or her client gets what they’re asking for.

Because of this fact, it can be difficult to prove someone is lying under oath unless one party has clear and solid evidence. This may include emails, text messages or videos of the other party committing the act they allege. Otherwise, the situation is, unfortunately, one person’s word against the other.

What Constitutes Perjury in Family Court?

Perjury in family court can be committed in a number of ways. In addition to lying about abuse or child support, it may include things like lying about where a child resides, lying about the current custody schedule, falsely alleging the other partner prevents a parent from seeing a child, hiding paychecks, hiding documents or falsely stating that a parent is uninterested in being in the child’s life.

In extreme cases, this may also include forging letters or documents and presenting them to the court as authentic.

What is the Penalty for Perjury?

The penalty for perjury is very clearly outlined in most states. Federal law states that perjury can be punished with up to five years in prison in addition to fines and probation.

If someone commits perjury in family court, this creates an entirely separate case. While committing blatant perjury can affect the outcome of the case, the person who did commit perjury won’t be prosecuted as part of the family law case.

Instead, a different case will need pursuing to ensure the person is properly punished for the perjury. This case will be for the crime of perjury alone.

But while the federal law states that perjury is punishable with up to five years in prison and a fine, perjury in family courts rarely amounts to punishment.

This is partially because of the nature of the case, and the fact that most people cannot unequivocally prove that the other party committed perjury.

Another reason why it is not often pursued is due to the fact that most court systems are already overloaded. They’re typically not interested in working with someone who may have committed perjury or prosecuting them. This is most often because they have what they perceive as more serious crimes to deal with.

While someone can start up an investigation into perjury in family court, most lawyers say they’ve never actually seen that occur.

Instead, the person who committed perjury most often gets away scot-free.

Sometimes, a judge will pursue a perjurer for contempt of court. This is typical if the lying is easily provable, and the person has committed another form of attempting to obstruct justice. Again, this isn’t very common.

More often, lawyers who knowingly commit perjury are indicted for their crime. This is much more common than a plaintiff or defendant receiving a punishment.

What to Do If You Catch Your Ex Lying in Family Court

If you’re currently in a potential custody situation, the best thing to do is to immediately get a lawyer. He or she is the best person to help you navigate the situation and can give you the best legal advice based on your personal circumstances.

You should also document everything you can in order to show the court. This can include text message conversations, emails, videotaping abuse and other such evidence. While it may not be easy to prove that the other party is lying, when you have a body of evidence, the court is more inclined to take your word more seriously.

Family Courtroom Drama

Unfortunately, family court can be a messy affair. And perjury in family court is a growing and serious issue that plagues our court system. The fact that very few people have been prosecuted for committing perjury in family court makes it all the more frustrating for those who are genuinely interested in the welfare of their children.

If you are facing a custody issue or think your case may be headed to family court, contact us today. We can advise you on the next steps to take.

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Top 8 Signs You Need to Hire a Child Custody Lawyer

You fell in love and couldn’t imagine life without each other.

Then you decided to get hitched. At first, everything was rosy and there were no issues to report. Then you got your first child.

But instead of life becoming even better, it got worse. Even your baby couldn’t bring you closer together. So, you opted to have a divorce.

If you’re having a divorce, take heart. You aren’t alone.

Over 800, 000 couples in the U.S go through divorce each year. Divorces are far from easy, but they become especially complicated when kids are involved.

You don’t need to handle child custody matters all by yourself. With a family law attorney, you can protect your rights to win time-sharing agreements.

Here are 8 good signs you may need a child custody lawyer while getting divorced.

Your Ex Has Already Engaged a Child Custody Lawyer

If your ex has already hired a family lawyer you’d want to do the same, otherwise, your case might turn a way you don’t expect.

You want to be well-prepared for your custody hearing. That’s especially important if your ex has hired an experienced legal representative to argue their case.

If you’re having money troubles, you can find a low-cost attorney in your area or get free legal aid. But it’s best to hire the right child custody attorney to help you out.

You Believe Your Kids Are in Danger

Sometimes the court’s ruling makes sense in theory, but that may actually put your children in danger. In such cases, time is priceless. This means you’ll need someone who’s familiar with court processes and can push through essential measures.

Often, custody cases may take months to solve, but if there’s evidence of immediate danger to your children, hiring an attorney may be the key that resolves the situation in time.

Your Spouse Has Stopped You from Seeing Your Kids

If you’ve been banned from seeing your own kids, you’ll need a lawyer in order to argue your case for why the decision was wrong. This might be in the form of an appeal or another legal battle to prove you deserve to be part of your kid’s life.

Without a family law attorney, however, you might find it difficult to convince the judge that the original ruling violated the law and your rights.

Your Custody Case Is Complex

Do you live in a different jurisdiction from your ex? Are you both unable to decide between joint and legal custody?

Is your ex trying to persuade the court that you’re not fit for joint custody of your kids? Or, is your present life situation changing so drastically that it can impact your kid’s life? Are you moving in with someone else or remarrying?

If you’re in any of these situations, you should consider hiring a lawyer to steer you through the process of child custody modification.

It’s especially essential to hire a lawyer when remarrying or moving in with someone new. This is because the court will thoroughly scrutinize you and your new partner before they allow joint custody of your children.

Your Custody Case Spans Country or State Lines

If you and your former spouse are in the same state or country, the custody case can often be pretty easy, if you’re in total agreement with one another.

If you’re unable to agree, however, or if the jurisdiction between you both changes, you’ll need expert legal representation.

A child custody attorney can help you fight for custody that does not involve your kid constantly shuttling between parents and help you argue a case that satisfies each party involved.

Since case requirements and proceedings can vary between states, it’s important to hire a lawyer that can guide you through the requirements.

You Receive a Notice About Custody Hearing

You can’t go to a custody hearing without a legal representative. If you do so, you’re highly likely to lose.

When you suddenly get a notice to go to court, it’s important to decide if you need an attorney. Consider hiring a knowledgeable and experienced family law professional to guide you through the legal processes and protect your rights.

Your Ex Wants Sole Custody of Your Kid

This is quite common if a couple had only one child at the time of divorce. In that case, each partner would be fighting to win custody of the kid, and it’s best to hire a child custody lawyer.

Such a lawyer can help resolve the standoff by drafting an agreement that will satisfy both parties. Or, the lawyer can help you file a case to challenge your ex’s decision to stay with the child.

The Court Requires You to Take Classes or Get Treatment

If the court orders you to take anger management, parenting classes, or join an alcohol or drug rehab facility, then they might think that you’re already in a weak position.

In that case, it’s best to get a child custody attorney. The only exception is if both parents in your state or country have to take anger management or parenting classes for any child custody case.

While uncommon, some jurisdictions require some sort of parental training for every child custody case.

Hire a Child Custody Attorney Today

Child custody cases are often complicated. But hiring a child custody lawyer can make things easier and hand you the best chance of winning custody agreements you desire for you and your child.

To find the best family attorneys and law firms in your area, check out Family Attorneys Near Me and browse through our blog for some useful information. With over 2,000 listings, we’re the ultimate directory to find your ideal family lawyer.

You can also browse family and divorce lawyers at these locations: Washington, San Antonio, Dallas, Austin, Houston, Columbus, Oklahoma City, Sacramento, and New Orleans.

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Top 10 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Family Lawyer

You’re headed down the road of divorce, and it’s a bittersweet feeling.

On the one hand, you can’t wait to break up with your spouse and move on with your own independent life. At the same time, you’re dreading the rocky moments you’re likely to encounter on the way to freedom — you know, the fight over the house, the money, and the kids.

Know, though, that you’re not alone. After all, research shows that between 40%-50% of marriages today end in divorce in the United States.

How smooth your divorce proceeding goes has a lot to do with the family law attorney you choose to handle your case. So, before you choose one, here’s a rundown on the top 10 questions to ask a family lawyer before hiring him or her.

Let’s get started!

1. Ask Your Potential Family Lawyer, “How Much Experience Do You Have in Family Law?”

This is perhaps the most critical question to ask any family law attorney you’re interested in hiring.

You need a lawyer who possesses the necessary knowledge and experience to navigate your case in the most streamlined manner possible. An attorney who lacks family law experience might not understand your case’s intricacies in the same way that a seasoned lawyer would.

2. “How Quickly Do You Typically Respond to Emails and Phone Calls?”

When you’re on pins and needles during your divorce proceeding, it’s understandable that you want to hear from your lawyer in a timely fashion. For many people, having a lawyer respond to them within 24 hours is ideal. For you, weekly communication may be enough.

Before hiring a lawyer, make sure that you ask the attorney his or her policies about responding to your questions. A smart lawyer will give you the personalized attention you desire while also streamlining your communications to keep your legal expenses as low as possible.

3. “What is Your Method of Charging Clients?”

When you’re interviewing potential family law attorneys, ask them how they usually charge clients.

For instance, some attorneys charge by the hour, whereas others work on flat fees or retainers.

You may also have to cover other costs as part of your case, such as travel expenses, fees for outside consultants and court costs.

A reputable family law attorney will be honest about your case’s costs and how he or she will handle your billing process.

4. “How Often Have You Handled a Case Like Mine?”

If you ask family law attorneys this question, they’ll likely say they’ve handled quite a few cases. But, you should ask them how often they’ve handled cases featuring circumstances like yours.

Even if an attorney has handled more than 60 divorce cases, he or she might have handled only a few cases involving complicated alimony matters.

Especially if your future ex-spouse is adversarial or if your case might be contentious, it’s critical that you also ask how often your potential attorneys have represented clients like you in a divorce trial.

5. “Who Will Handle My Case?”

Many family law attorneys have teams of people working with them on complicated cases.

For instance, an attorney might enlist the help of a paralegal or a support associate. Accountants or financial advisors may also help your attorney to determine how to divide assets during your divorce.

This team approach could save you money in the long run and also help your attorney respond to your case’s demands more effectively. Be sure to ask your potential attorney how experienced these other professionals are.

6. “What’s Your Approach to Representing or Winning Cases?”

This is a particularly important question during a divorce proceeding. After all, if you’d like to divorce your spouse in the most amicable manner possible, an aggressive attorney might not be a good fit for you.

At the same time, if you want to take your divorce case to trial, you’ll need a family lawyer who doesn’t mind pushing the envelope to get you the best outcome.

7. “What Options Do I Have for Resolving My Legal Issue?”

In line with question number six, let’s say you fall under the category of those wanting an amicable divorce. In this situation, be sure to ask a potential attorney what out-of-court options you have for resolving your case.

For instance, the attorney may have a lot of experience with divorce mediation or collaborative divorce. Or, he or she may enjoy participating in informal negotiations. These divorce processes offer the benefit of being less costly and time-consuming compared with traditional divorce litigation.

8. “What Is My Case’s Likely Outcome?”

This is a fair question, as you naturally want to know how good your chances are of winning your divorce case.

Don’t choose an attorney who gives you the answer you want to hear. Instead, choose one who gives you an honest answer.

The more honest answer you receive, the more prepared you’ll be for what comes your way as you progress through your divorce proceeding.

9. “How Will You Get in Touch with Me?”

As we mentioned earlier, communication is essential when you’re working with a lawyer. In addition to finding out how often you can expect to hear from him or her, find out what communication methods he or she prefers.

Some attorneys prefer to talk by phone, others by email. Choose one that fits your communication style so that you have the most pleasant client-attorney relationship possible.

10. “Who Are Your Typical Clients?”

This question is frequently overlooked, but it’s an important one.

For instance, you may own high-value assets that will be complex to split during your divorce, such as a family business. In this situation, you don’t want an attorney whose clientele is predominately those in the lower middle class, where the splitting of assets may be a bit more straightforward.

Your prospective attorney’s typical clients will tell you a lot about whether he or she can handle your case with ease.

How We Can Help

We offer a comprehensive listing of more than 6,000 attorneys who are ready to meet your legal needs.

Begin your attorney search here to kick-start your divorce process with the right family lawyer near you today.