Lance Armstrong and Divorce Court: To Tell the Truth?
Lance Armstrong in his Oprah Winfrey interview has famously admitted that he has been lying for years about his use of performance-enhancing drugs in his career as a cyclist.
More than one client at a hearing in family court has said, “My spouse is lying. She is committing perjury. Do something!” What is perjury and how does it relate to a Texas Family Law case?
Perjury is defined in Texas Penal Code roughly as: Perjury: A person commits an offense when he makes a false statement under oath with intent to deceive. Lance Armstrong’s statements in his 2005 deposition shown on the Oprah show were made under oath. What he said last night to Oprah was unsworn. What he said last night is not perjury. What he said in the 2005 deposition may be perjury. To be charged with the crime of perjury, the prosecution of the perjurer must start within two or three years of the date of the perjury. So Lance walks – at least in the legal courts, but not necessarily in the court of public opinion.
What about the lying spouse mentioned above? Everyone when testifying under oath has the duty to tell the truth and can be prosecuted for perjury. The decision to prosecute a perjury case is up to the local county prosecutor. The prosecutor may be overwhelmed with other cases and reluctant to get involved what the prosecutor could perceive as a domestic dispute. The real remedy for perjury in Texas Family Courts is the fact that judges, when they make their ruling in the case, have the ability to “punish” the offender by not granting the relief, or as much relief, as requested by the offending party.
In summary, the “do right” rule remains the same: tell the truth.