Talk to enough people who’ve been through contentious divorces and, at some point, you’ll probably hear about how the person’s “no-good, low-down, miserable excuse for a spouse” lied on the stand, got away with it, and got the “better end” of the divorce outcome. Oftentimes, these complaints are just the verbal expressions of generalized frustration about having been through the painful process of divorce. However, a question remains: what happens if you discover documented proof that seems to indicate that your spouse did lie during his/her trial testimony, but you only came into possession of that proof after the final judgment? Fortunately, even after your divorce is finalized, you still have options. An experienced South Florida family law attorney can help you choose the best approach based on your specific situation.
A recent Orlando-area divorce case involving a medical sales professional and a stay-at-home mom was an example of an action where alleged falsehoods played a role.
One of the most heavily litigated issues in the case was the amount of the husband’s income. The wife, in seeking to establish the husband’s income, presented evidence related to five physician clients. The husband, however, countered that two of those doctors were not his clients. Regarding one of those two doctors, Dr. G., the husband stated that he never did any business with that physician, never tried to do any business with Dr. G. and, as a result, never received any income from Dr. G.
Four months after the trial court entered the final judgment, the wife allegedly discovered a paper trail that purportedly demonstrated a string of business-related payments from Dr. G. to the husband, half of which were made before the husband’s testimony in the divorce trial.
How to Get the Courts to Re-Examine Your Case
So, what can you do if you have newly discovered evidence that shows that your spouse lied in your divorce trial? There are several ways you can go forward, but almost any of them must begin with the trial court. The wife made motions with the trial court, but none were granted.
This step, even when initially unsuccessful, is critical. If you need to appeal to a higher court, that court is going to look at your arguments and ask whether you tried to make them before the trial judge. If you didn’t, there’s a fairly high chance that that failure will doom your appeals court case.
When confronted with a spouse who lied on the stand, you need to know not only where to start but how to start. This wife made her case under two family court procedural rules, one of which was Rule 12.530(a). (Rule 12.530 is the rule that covers new hearings and new trials.)
In a request for a new hearing or a new trial under Rule 12.530, the court will consider four things. Those four factors are: (1) how quickly you made your motion, (2) the kind of proof you seek to present, (3) the “effect of the evidence’s admission” and (4) the reasonableness of your justification in support of reopening the case. In this case, the wife’s legal team advanced her motion less than three weeks after discovering Dr. G.’s alleged payments to the husband. The evidence she desired to present was proof tending to indicate that the husband had testified falsely. If the wife proved her point, then the evidence could have the effect of altering the calculation of the husband’s income which would, in turn, affect the issues of alimony and equitable distribution. This covered each of the first three factors.
All of these things, according to the court, in addition to the reasonableness factor, skewed in favor of the wife, meaning that she was entitled to the new hearing she sought.
So, as this case shows, the difference between success and failure can come down to knowing what to do, how to do it, and when to do it. To make sure you are prepared to take on whatever comes your way – even if that “whatever” is fraud by the other side – you need skilled legal representation. Count on the knowledgeable South Florida family law attorneys at Sandy T. Fox, P.A. to be that sort of effective advocate for you. Contact our attorneys online or by calling (800) 596-0579 to schedule your confidential consultation today.