In the context of divorce, truth can be more malleable than participants expect. The old saying that there are two sides to every story is taken to the extreme by the rollercoaster of emotions, general anxiety and confusion that can occur at any and all times during the divorce process. There are often four or five versions of a story. Probably the best examples of this are: the reasons for the breakup, who has done more with the children, and which party was irresponsible with money. As attorneys, when we communicate with opposing counsel we often have to double check to be sure we are talking about the same case because the perspectives and beliefs of our client are so stunningly different. No one is necessarily lying but perceptions of the truth may bear no resemblance.
To make matters worse, the promise to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth only means that the witness will give his or her version. Litigants should not assume that their version of the truth will come out in court from the opposing party and that what they hear as sworn testimony may not even approximate their own experience. The witness may be telling a different story and may even be lying, but in most cases it is a combination of perception, rationalization and human nature that generates a genuine explanation that may be far from reality. Most people believe what they say and it is a rare couple that remembers their marriage in exactly the same way.
Unless there is a reason why “the truth” is critical (such as financial information or criminal history) there are many “truths” that parties may need to let go. The lesson regarding truth is that parties are unlikely to ever convince the other of their truth and the attempts are frustrating, emotionally draining, and divert energy from the most important task of moving toward resolutions. As hard as it is to swallow and as wrong as one may believe the other to be, it is better to agree to disagree and focus on reaching resolutions that are in the best interest of your children and are financially healthy for all concerned.