Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth?
Everyone who testifies in court must answer “yes” to this question. Does that mean everyone who testifies in court tells the truth?
But I think most people do tell the truth … as they know it.
As you listen to the witnesses testify against you, keep in mind that the truth is a lot like beauty. It is in the eye of the beholder.
Two people can experience the same event and when it is over they can be asked to tell the truth about what happened. And the two people can have two almost diametrically opposed versions of what happened.
A good example of this happens when listening to adult siblings talking about their childhood or their parents. Two people can live in the same home, be raised by the same parents, eat the same food and sleep under the same roof for twenty or more years and if one child is asked to describe their parents, she might say they were loving and kind. Ask another child what their parents were like, and he might say they were distant and strict.
Is the inconsistency in their versions of what their parents were like an indication that one of the children is not telling the truth?
Of course not.
In fact both of them can be telling the truth. It is possible that both children’s version of what happened is true. It is possible that their parents were a combination of loving, kind, distant and strict.
Two things can be true.
Think about times when you have gone to a restaurant with a group of people. After the meal if asked to tell the truth about the experience, responses might include:
“The food was good but the service was awesome.”
“The food was cold and the service was horrible.”
“Great atmosphere but the wait was too long.”
“Loved the food and hated the prices.”
Who is telling the truth? More than likely everyone is telling the truth about their experience.
I think most witnesses tell the truth about their experience.
During the course of a trial, I often caution clients that they should brace themselves because when the opposing party takes the witness stand he may begin rendering an unrecognizable version of what happened in your relationship.
Is this because he is lying?
Sometimes the answer to this question is yes, absolutely, positively.
However, that is not always the case. Just because the opposing party offers a different version of the truth that does not mean he is lying. Any more than it would mean you are lying because you offer a different version of the truth than he does.
The opposite of the truth is not always a lie.
That’s what makes the judge’s job so tough and why his final decision doesn’t simply turn on whether he believes you or disbelieves the opposing party. He is tasked with entering a ruling, even in cases when he believes both of you.
This is a an excerpt from Letters to a New Divorce Client. Download a copy below:
Letters to a New Divorce Client
Photo Credit: Visual Hunt