Has your ex lied about something in your divorce case? Lying in court poses a multitude of potential costs to you, your children and your future. In today's episode, host Billie Tarascio and "Win Without Law School" attorney Julie LaBenz talk about the most powerful ways to expose your ex in court.
While you don't want to focus your efforts on proving that your ex is a bad person, it is important to show a judge when the other party lacks credibility, so choosing which lies to focus on can be key. Being strategic about exposing lies is your strongest tool when it comes in winning in court.
WinWithoutLawSchool.com is the online resource for people who need to deal with a divorce without paying for an expensive attorney. While Tarascio and LaBenz are Arizona attorneys, most of the strategic elements they share here can be used for people in any state.
How to Prove Your Ex Is Lying In Court
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[00:01:00] Billie Tarascio: Hello. Happy Thursday. I feel like I've missed everyone. It feels like it's been a while. Maybe it's just been a really long week.
[00:01:09] Julie LaBenz: Yeah, there's, there's a lot going on. Um, And yeah, we were here a week ago, so it hasn't been too long, but it hasn't been too long. So you, yeah, so we'll, we'll be here every week really we'll.
[00:01:19] Billie Tarascio: And your classes went live this week?
[00:01:23] Julie LaBenz: Yeah, we started on Monday. So we have, um, three classes now recorded and up in the members area. And it's all about case strategy. And, um, what I did was, I, I. I gathered like all the different statutes that come into play on. You know, property division, spousal maintenance, parenting plans, child support, um, enforcement modification, you know, for each topic and then gave you the whole big picture.
So I got really amazing feedback. We were like, oh my gosh, I didn't even know those, you know, laws [00:02:00] existed. This is so helpful. Thank you. So it, it really did. Um, I got some really good feedback and, you know, we'll just keep making things better and better as we go along.
[00:02:10] Billie Tarascio: That's super exciting. I love this. I love the mission.
I love the idea that we can make law more acceptable or accessible to people who don't go through undergraduate and then law school. So it's just, it's super exciting and I'm, I'm so happy to be partnered with you on this.
[00:02:29] Julie LaBenz: Yeah, definitely. Um, so how are things going for you? You've been doing some planning and getting the new year going.
[00:02:37] Billie Tarascio: have been great, really great. I feel like for me personally, like 2022 was super chaotic, and 2023 is just feeling so much like less chaotic. So much calmer and, um, so that's exciting. Like really exciting. My [00:03:00] personal co-parenting relationship has never been better and it's not new, right? We, I've been divorced since 2019, but this is an ongoing, evolving relationship and you're never done.
And it's really great because we had a super high conflict, Divorce, it took forever. It took a million years, and it's never too late to get better. It's never too late to like, Impact that relationship in a positive way. And, uh, that's, that's exciting and wonderful and really good for my kids.
[00:03:31] Julie LaBenz: I would imagine things are constantly evolving as your kids are getting older and different things are coming up, and then like each of you get less attached to each other, you know, in your own new relationships and stuff.
And like the whole dynamic is finally ready to shift.
[00:03:48] Billie Tarascio: Right. Absolutely. And has taken years. And, um, his, my ex-husband's new wife has been a, uh, an absolute gift to the whole situation. She's
[00:03:59] Julie LaBenz: [00:04:00] wonderful. That's awesome. Yeah.
[00:04:02] Billie Tarascio: Yeah. Abso like so lucky. So, so lucky. So, um, So for anybody who's new and joining us, this is Julia Benz.
I'm Billie Tarascio. We're family law attorneys in Arizona. We're doing a q and a every week. We go live with our inside our Facebook group to code your Divorce um, support group. We're so happy that you're there. We're also live on TikTok, but if you wanna ask questions, it's usually easier. If you join the Facebook group, we will try to get to your questions.
And the way that we do this is we are gonna cover a topic and then we're gonna do q and a. Um, Julie, you're really good at the disclaimer, so you wanna explain all those?
[00:04:42] Julie LaBenz: Yeah. So, um, first of all, by participating in this q and a or watching us, neither Billie nor I become your lawyer. I mean, I think that's pretty self-explanatory, but.
Um, this isn't enough. We would have to, you know, talk to, you, enter into a client agreement. There's, you know, more official steps to actually being your lawyer. [00:05:00] Also, the information that we give today during the q and a is just information. That's it. To give actual legal advice, we would need to sit with you, read your papers, talk to you, like get the whole picture to actually advise you.
And that's not what this format is about. This is more just information about the process and the law and some potential options people may have. And this is based on Arizona law. Both Billie and I have been licensed to practice law here in Arizona since, you know, around 2005, 2006. So we've got a ton of experience and we are gonna talk about just.
You know these questions from the Arizona law perspective, I have gotten some people, um, send in questions from other states saying, Hey, can I do WinWithLawSchool.com? And each time I've responded the same, I've said, look, there's gonna be some concepts that will be helpful no matter what, but this is specific to Arizona.
And so it could get confusing for you if you're learning about Arizona and then trying to apply it in [00:06:00] your different state if the laws are different. So, Um, you know, keep that in mind. This is Arizona based, but there's 50,000 or so family law cases filed each year in Arizona, and you know, there's two sides to every case.
So there's a lot of people in Arizona that are needing this help and information. I.
[00:06:19] Billie Tarascio: Absolutely. And I would say, um, it cannot hurt you to get this information if you're representing yourself in North Carolina. It is not gonna be exact, but if you learn from Julie, the statute that we have on property division now, you know you need to go look in your state for that statute on property division.
And I'll, uh, and it's. It's sort of the difference between when I've had lawyers join my firm who have practiced family law in other states, they pick it up so much faster than somebody who's never practiced. So the information that you can get in WinWithLawSchool.com will, uh, just like you said, it's not gonna be a hundred percent specific to you.
We [00:07:00] are talking about Arizona law, but the information you will learn, I have no doubt, will make you better able to represent yourself no matter
[00:07:06] Julie LaBenz: where you are. Yeah, definitely. So today, uh, for our live, we're gonna talk about how to, um, prove that your ex is lying in court. Um, wow, this is a really big topic.
Of course, who knows what the lie is gonna be and things like that, but, um, it's really important and if you can prove it, wow, what a big deal that can be to the judge. I mean, if somebody's credibility is just completely destroyed, Often the judge will make findings in the final order about that. And then that gets carried through.
Um, you know, future, you know, in the case, because let's say your case gets sent to a different judge. Well, what are they gonna do? They're gonna go back and read the underlying order. And if they see in there that there's a finding that one side lied, well then in their mind they're already, oh, well that side's a liar.
So proving it can be very helpful and can have [00:08:00] lasting impacts, but keep in mind what you think is a lie and what the judge thinks is a lie may not be the same thing.
[00:08:08] Billie Tarascio: Yes, this is a hard. You know, it's important to prove somebody's a liar. And at the same time, if you've listened to our topics, you know that you can't rehash your marriage, and it's a no fault Divorce state.
So you don't wanna prove that your ex is a bad guy or a bad spouse, or. That that can't be the goal. So choosing which lies should I focus on in terms of showing the judge that there's a lack of credibility can be a hard question. What do you think about that?
[00:08:42] Julie LaBenz: Right. We're really, we're looking at lies outside the courtroom.
Something that happened before your trial and who know, it could have been a year before, it could have been two weeks before. I mean, who knows when the liar lies actually transpired. In conjunction to when you go to trial, and then there's being in the trial [00:09:00] and listening to testimony and, and, oh, they just lied on the stand.
And so you've got two types of lies to potentially bring forth. And the lies outside the courtroom, just like Billie said, you know, there could be hundreds of lies from your point of view, but what's really important for the judge, and I would say lying about money, because we have a waste statute in Arizona.
So if you're concealing, hiding, you know, uh, disposing of property and then you're lying to your spouse about it, That the judge is gonna wanna hear about and, and that can be really persuasive. Also, lies related to your children. You know, you're looking at best interest standards. There are some points in the law that talk about, um, how one parent is, is affecting the moral health of a child, which some of that can get really difficult to prove.
But the, it is in the law. And, and if you're, Your co-parent is constantly lying to your child and things [00:10:00] like that, that could be very confusing for a child, obviously, and, and could get the attention of the judge. But if it's just some bickering back and forth between the two of you, or if it's that you have different points of view, the judge isn't necessarily going to take that and run with it or, or find it even to be relevant because.
You know, the judge is hearing these things all the time. Oh, they're a liar and this and that, and so you really wanna have some powerful evidence and not just something the judge hears all the time. Absolutely.
[00:10:33] Billie Tarascio: Um, I. Absolutely. I'm gearing up for a trial now, and, and the, the client has a lot of things that she would like to use to prove that, that her, um, soon-to-be ex-husband is lying.
One of the things that I've sort of focused in on is if I can prove that he's lied to the judge and show that that's gonna be more meaningful to the judge than if I can show that he lied to her, [00:11:00] because in a marriage that's falling apart, Um, I'm sh I, I don't know, I think probably 95% of the time somebody's lied to somebody about something.
But if you can show judge, you can't believe a word coming out of their mouth because they've already lied to you, I find that to be pretty impactful. Definitely. And so you could use that from, you know, uh, an R M C, um, a pri a private or a previous hearing. And the way that you could do that is. You can, we've talked about depositions and how depositions are their testimony, and you can use that for impeachment.
And really, when we're showing somebody's a liar, that's what we're doing. If you've heard the term impeachment, that's what we're doing. We're impeaching them. You can get a transcript of previous hearings, and that was their sworn testimony. So if they said something at the R M C or at a temporary orders hearing, and you can read that to them when they're on their stand at the final hearing, Hey, do you remember on X date when you said.
Think this, this, this, [00:12:00] and this. Um, and they'll say yes or no, and then you can show your other exhibit that proves they're lying and that is the correct way to impeach someone. And
[00:12:13] Julie LaBenz: one, one thing that can be very effective that you may not have to do too much digging on. Is showing lies in an affidavit of financial information.
Absolutely. And if child support or spousal maintenance or attorney's fees, if there's some really big contested issue where the a f I is a key document and the judges want, you know, you file that a f i under oath, it is a sworn document and a lot of people flub on 'em. And a lot if you can prove that, especially on income, showing that they're not.
Being accurate with their income. That could be a very powerful lie to prove in court that the judge would find compelling. Absolutely
[00:12:56] Billie Tarascio: that, that is a treasure trove of potential [00:13:00] impeachment evidence. Um, you can impeach somebody on their claimed tithing that doesn't match up with their statements, um, all of their claimed expenses, whether or not they have other sources of income, you know, if they don't list.
A roommate's income or other income they get from other jobs. Now, most of the time somebody's just gonna say, oh, I'm sorry, I, I forgot I messed it up. I didn't understand. And, um, it, it really depends on the judge whether or not they buy that.
[00:13:31] Julie LaBenz: Yeah, I agree. But, Even if you don't convince the judge that the other side lied, you've still proven your point that their a F I is inaccurate and a different number should be used for income, for example, which that's still going to meet your overall goal, which is to get the proper amount of child support ordered.
So I think you really need to be clear on what your goals are. Obviously having that landslide victory where you prove they lied and the judge [00:14:00] sanctions them and oh, that would be amazing. But if you fall short of that and instead you get a, you know, $200 more per month in child support because you prove their income's higher, I would be very happy with that
[00:14:13] Billie Tarascio: victory.
Absolutely. That's a fantastic point. Um, in one of the workshops that we did to help teach LPs mm-hmm. You taught how to do, how to properly impeach someone because there's a technical aspect to that. Would you mind going over that?
[00:14:30] Julie LaBenz: So let's think about when you're in trial. Okay. So, um, you either go first or second depending on whether or not you're the party that initiated the current action.
So if you are going first, you're gonna testify and go through everything, but then the other side is gonna get a chance to testify and when they'll testify on direct examination, and then you get to ask them questions on cross. And this is where if you're wanting to prove [00:15:00] the lie in the a f i or a lie in of pleading or, um, you know, some other document or something that happened, this is where you need to set it up, okay?
You're gonna need to have your exhibits ready and, and craft your questions. To lead, you know, to show the lie. And that can be challenging. You know, you really need to sit down and think about it because you can't ask the smoking gun question first. You gotta set it up. And if you don't do it properly, it can all get flubbed, and then you don't really prove your point.
So think about that, and this again, we're looking at, are you trying to prove a, a lie that happened outside of court, or are you looking to prove a lie on something that was said during their testimony? And really focus on what you're doing. The other thing to be cognizant of is to keep your emotions in check.
I've had so many hearings where I've been kicking my client under the table being like, calm down, because the other side's [00:16:00] testifying and they think the other side's saying all lies. And they're like, and my client's like, I can't believe it. Um, and doing all this like heavy breathing and stuff, and it's distracting.
It's immature, it's, it's. The judge doesn't like it at all. So keep your emotions in check because I, I can imagine how that feels. Like, you feel like you know the truth and then you're hearing this person under oath saying things that you think are total lies. And it does get you heated, but you're not gonna win any points with the judge.
If you start getting really crazy in, you know, the, the chair at your table at in the courtroom. It's honestly gonna look like. You can't control your emotions. And if child custody is at issue, the court's gonna take a note. You know, take note of that, like the court is looking for who is the responsible parent?
Who's the one who's gonna share this child, act in the child's best interest, you know, rise above disputes between the parents. And if you're sitting there and [00:17:00] you can't even control your emotions in the court, the judge's gonna be like, huh, I don't, I don't know if this person really is who they say they are.
So don't. Lose your credibility in trying to prove the other side lie because proving a lie isn't necessarily the most important part of your case.
[00:17:18] Billie Tarascio: It is noted. I'm glad that you said that and I want to like reiterate it. Proving that somebody is a liar is not actually what you have to show the judge to win ever.
You have to. You. You, which is why we teach people to start with what you want, determine what you must prove to get what you want. And then that is what you build your entire case and testimony around. And then you figure out where can I jab on the impeachment? Where can I jab on the, and you're a liar because let's say you go in and you prove that this person is a liar.
If you have not met these other burdens, these other, if you have not shown this other evidence that the court [00:18:00] needs from you in order to find in your favor, you will not win.
[00:18:04] Julie LaBenz: Yeah, and I wanna give an example cuz I just talked about proving a lie through cross-examination, but you can also prove a lie through your testimony.
Mm-hmm. So if the other side's testified, and I'm gonna give an example, they say, oh, I don't use drugs, I haven't used drugs, you know, in a year I'm sober, everything's great. And then you take the stand and you're like, well I found a meth pipe in your room a month ago. This actually happened in one of my cases.
And she, the judge went with that. There's kids at issue. She didn't show a picture, she didn't have a backup witness, she didn't have a conviction for drugs. But she brought up three or four examples of where she had, from her perspective, proof that he was using dangerous drugs and what's the judge gonna do?
You know, of course ordered him to do a drug test and da, da, da. But. You don't always have to have a document. You don't always [00:19:00] have to have a recording or a text or something. Sometimes you can just get up there and if, if you have evidence of. Endangerment to the child. Sometimes your testimony enough or your testimony alone is enough.
[00:19:12] Billie Tarascio: Absolutely. And that does come down to credibility. Who does the judge believe? If you have ever in the past, in your court case, exaggerated or not been honest on your a f i, let's say somebody proves that you messed up your afi. When you go to say, but I saw a crack pipe. The judge is thinking, can I trust you?
Yep. So everything you do in your case, You almost want to be, it's so difficult. You're walking a line between being understated and not exaggerating, especially women. Mm-hmm. Have to be careful not to, not to have the judge have the impression that they are over-exaggerating. And at the same time you have to get information out.
[00:19:57] Julie LaBenz: tough balance. [00:20:00] It is a tough balance. Um, And of course when you're in the courtroom and in trial, it's, everything moves so fast, there's so much going on. But this is where you just need to be clear on what your evidence is, what your requested outcome is, and don't get too caught up on whether you've won or lost based on whether or not you've proven the alleged lies or not.
But certainly it's, it is. Something important to spend some time on, to prepare for and to try to prove, because there can be major benefits in your case if you can prove, um, lying. Either just getting that negative in inference against the other party in the paperwork, possibly getting a better outcome, or maybe even getting an award of attorney's fees, because if you lie on the stand, I I, to me, that's unreasonable conduct.
I don't have a case site for that, but I don't see how a judge would find lying on the stand to be a reasonable position. So that [00:21:00] can grant you legal fees as well if you're working with a lawyer.
[00:21:04] Billie Tarascio: Absolutely. So how do you, what do you do when you only have an hour to present a temporary orders hearing?
You know, you have to prove all the best interest factors, and you wanna also prove a lie. How do you determine what to focus
[00:21:21] Julie LaBenz: on? So really this is where you've got your questions for direct and cross-examination and you're going, you want to really work with those to tee up what you wanna try to prove.
But I. If you're trying to prove a lie on cross-examination and it's going nowhere, you're gonna need to move on. Yeah. Because you're gonna eat up your time. Right. Sometimes that happens. You know, you'll ask the question on cross and you don't get the answer you want, so you ask it again and you still don't get the answer you want, and you ask it again.
And then if you're self-represented, you have to like, but you're lying. That's not true. And then it's like, but you don't get to testify when you're asking questions. [00:22:00] And you know, now the judge is just like, this is ridiculous. Can we move on please? So, although you may plan and plan and plan, understand it, it may not work out the way you want.
And there can be some surprises in the testimony as well. I mean, I've had that happen where I was thinking things were a certain way and I set it all up and then the person testifies a completely different way, and it's like, oh, all right, well there goes that. Because now they've shown that they had. A real, um, you know, excuse or explanation for what happened and it, you know, this allegation of a lie just isn't compelling anymore.
[00:22:38] Billie Tarascio: Right. Absolutely. Knowing when to move on, I think is, is, is a hundred percent key for sure. Um, let's see. We've got some questions coming in. Do we have any other questions? Well, let's just recap. How do we show someone's lying? You can show their lying through. Cross-examination, which which would require [00:23:00] you to give proof to put evidence in front of them that what they said previously is not true.
That is probably the hardest technical way to show somebody's lying because you've gotta set foundation, you've gotta make sure that whatever evidence you're putting in front of them, they have the ability to lay the foundation to testify that it's true, and then admit that that's a lie. That is maybe, I think, the hardest technical way to show somebody's lying.
Mm-hmm. The other way you can show somebody's lying is, um, through your own testimony or through other people's witness testimony or through your own exhibits that you, uh, present and testify to during your, during your side, your time to present evidence. Did I miss anything?
[00:23:45] Julie LaBenz: No, I think that's, That's, that covers it.
Okay. And, um, you know, really just focusing on what is this lie? Is it just something between us or is it related to property that's gonna be divided in the case? [00:24:00] Is it related to income that's gonna impact spousal maintenance and or child support? Is it something related to the kids, you know? Um, He was drinking and driving and he is lying about it.
You know, he didn't get caught by the police, but the kids told me what happened and now he's denying it. You know, that's relevant. Yes. It's
[00:24:19] Billie Tarascio: so, really, so let's take that example. So how do you make sure the judge believes you when it's, he said, she said,
[00:24:26] Julie LaBenz: Well, all you can do is your best effort. But like we talked about earlier, when you start bringing up safety issues, the court's gonna wanna err on the side of caution.
And so you may not prove a lie, but maybe you get drug testing ordered, or maybe you get the sober link where you have to, you know, do the breath test before and after parenting time gets put into place. And again, that's a victory. If your goal is to keep your kids safe, then these are measures in that direction, so it's important to bring it up.
You don't necessarily have to [00:25:00] have video evidence or proof, but if you're coming in and saying, look, the kids got home from parenting time on X weekend, and they were scared to death, they were crying and they talked about this wild drunken car ride that dad took them on. I confronted dad about it and he denied it and called the kids liars.
This is a problem. Dad has a history of alcoholism. You know, that's key. He has a prior dui.
[00:25:26] Billie Tarascio: Right. What are the other circumstantial facts that exist? Like if you're coming out of nowhere with, you know, dad drunk and drank and drove with the kids, but no DUIs, no history of alcoholism. No. But if instead, if you can paint the picture with this is how much money he spends on alcohol every month, this is the bar he goes to.
These are the other people who've seen him drink and drive. Now you've tipped the scales.
[00:25:48] Julie LaBenz: Yeah. This is what happened during our marriage or when we were together. He would, you know, get drunk every night, whatever the facts are. Um, yeah, and give the whole big picture and then the court's gonna be like, [00:26:00] Ooh, you know, I'm not sure what's true or not, but I wanna make sure these kids are protected and nobody, you know, no kids should be subjected to drinking and driving.
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