Lying Under Oath

Back in the bad old days, when fault divorce was the only way to end a marriage, lying under oath – perjury – happened every day. One Pennsylvania judge who granted many divorces said that divorce court was a meeting of what he called “the liars’ club.” Spouses, coached by skillful lawyers, routinely concocted stories, and as they say, “bore false witness” against their estranged husbands and wives. For example, many couples, faced with the burdens of proof, engaged in collusive divorce by setting up their own fictitious adultery so the other spouse had grounds for the action.

It would be great to say that no fault ended divorce perjury, but it probably has not. Now couples must resist the temptation to lie about the goods they are dividing.

Perjury is lying under oath. Put simply, if a person believes he or she is telling the truth when testifying, he is neither a liar nor a perjurer. Lying knowingly and intentionally and doing it under oath is what makes willful mistakes perjury.

Civil perjury is rarely prosecuted. However, divorce judges, who have heard and seen all manner of flying carpets, do not like it when people lie in their courtrooms. Judges often like one party more than the other, and it is cinch that it not the party who perjures himself or herself.

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