Does Your Claim Pass The Smell Test?

Everyday divorce clients or their spouses and/or the other parent will make claims to their attorneys and judges that are very believable or perhaps total nonsense. Experienced lawyers and judges very quickly develop that sixth sense or radar that puts us on alert that what we are hearing may or may not be true. That doesn't mean that a wild story is false, it just means that we are really going to need some proof of it before it is completely believed. As your attorney the simple task is to advocate for your position, the more sophisticated attorney will be concerned about whether what their client says is also believable. This applies whether the issue is child support, maintenance or equitable distribution.

We all remember the classmate who had an excuse for everything and was never believed. The excuses for not doing homework such as the dog ate my homework, my mother didn't drive me to the store so I didn't have paper, etc. are the classics and we all immediately question the truth.

In court, judges often have a lot of street smarts, they see and hear hundreds and thousands of people in their courtrooms stating their case and explaining why or why not something happened. Both lawyers and judges listen critically to what is being said, how it is being said, observe the body language and consider the truth of it in the context of the background of the person making the statement.

If a client says that they earn $30,000 per year but spend $90,000 per year unless they have huge debt, received gifts or inheritance it is not rocket science to question whether the income stated is accurate.

If a person describes an event and it is very different from their usual and normal routine or activities the mental alerts go off. For example, a spouse who goes to a restaurant 25 miles away from where they live that they have never gone to before and just happens to see their spouse they might be stalking. When the client says, "where in the law does it say I can't go there" that might be another clue.

Credibility in court is so important. Once a judge thinks that a person is lying or not telling the whole truth it becomes very difficult to win back their trust. Better to be honest and believable rather than tell a story that does not pass the smell test and ruins the rest of your case.