What Are The Consequences of Lying in a Child Custody Hearing?

Especially in a high-conflict divorce, it sometimes seems necessary to do whatever it takes to get conservatorship (custody) of your kids. That might include exaggerating the frequency of your caregiving, for example, to present a more favorable picture to the court. It could also involve making false statements about the other parent’s caregiving — or even fabricating abuse or neglect allegations.

Don’t do it. There is a very good chance you will be caught, and doing it could bring about just the consequences you most fear — less parenting time for you and more for your ex.

In Texas, child custody is called “conservatorship,” and the order dividing time between the parents is called a standard possession order. What other states call “visitation,” Texas calls “possession and access to a child.” In the large majority of cases, both parents get some time in possession of the child. They may also receive joint managing conservatorship, which essentially means sharing the authority to make significant decisions about the child’s life.

In some cases, however, one parent will be granted sole managing conservatorship, along with the lion’s share of possession and access. The other parent may get no possession or only supervised possession. This generally occurs when that parent has a history of violence or neglect, drug or alcohol use, or criminal activity. Or, they may have been absent from the child’s life. Finally, there could be a history of serious conflict between the parents in regard to the child’s upbringing.

Some parents try to obtain sole managing conservatorship even though the other parent is interested, involved and has no negative history. This is among the most common times for a parent to lie.

After a significant lie, your custody case could be reopened

If you have lied in order to obtain sole managing conservatorship or a greater share of time with the children, there could be serious issues ahead.

For one thing, conservatorship and possession orders can be modified whenever one parent experiences a substantial change in their circumstances. Many courts will treat the discovery of a significant lie to be such a change. That could reopen the entire discussion of conservatorship and possession from the beginning.

Furthermore, if one party can prove that the other was lying during the conservatorship proceedings, it is often possible to appeal. Courts look very unfavorably upon people who are caught lying. The ultimate result could be having your share of the conservatorship and possession sharply reduced or even revoked.

If you urgently need custody, don’t risk going outside the rules. Your best bet is to work closely with your attorney to present your strongest case.

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