Blog Posts


October 21, 2020
The Doctrine of Unclean Hands

Two wrongs do not make a right. You’ve probably heard that a million times in your life. The same thing applies to your family law case. However, judges and lawyers refer to it as the doctrine of unclean hands. This doctrine was adopted as part of the British and Anglo-Saxon law that the founders of our country kept. It has been carried through our legal system for all those years and still serves us well. 

Examples of Unclean Hands as it Pertains to Family Law

There are three familiar places where people say, “Well, my spouse did this; why can’t I?”. The first one is when one spouse decides to record the other without their knowledge. This is not legal; thus, it is not admissible in court. Just because your spouse chooses to record you does not mean that you can take the same incorrect actions. 

The second incident is during the discovery phase. The person who files divorce, the petitioner, has 60 days after filing the petition for dissolution of marriage to provide financial disclosure to the other spouse. The respondent, the person you are serving with divorce, has 60 days from filing responsive pleading to provide financial disclosure to the petitioner. If you are the respondent, you should provide your discovery whether or not your spouse did. 

The third incident involves child support and time-sharing. In some cases, a parent might withhold child support if the other parent does not cooperate in time-sharing with the children. 

How Judges Treat Unclean Hands 

In those incidents and others, the judge will not look at the person in the wrong favorably. If both of you come to the table with unclean hands – you both did something wrong, the judge will make their decision, and most likely, neither spouse will like it. 

If you take the high road and do everything under the law, the judge is more apt to look at your situation more favorably. Additionally, the court looks at your actions of a waiver of your relief if you come before the judge with unclean hands. In other words, the judge is less likely to grant your request if they believe your behavior is not in the best interest of your spouse and your children. 

Frustrations Abound

While we know that it is very frustrating when the other spouse does something wrong and seemingly gets away with it, keep in mind that the wrongdoing will catch up to your spouse at the next hearing, especially when it comes to disclosure. We do our best to find out if someone is hiding assets. Instead of further delaying the process, you can help us locate the assets your spouse might be hiding. The more information we have, the better your attorney and the court can determine if your spouse is lying or hiding assets. 

When we have all of the information, it is much easier to make a fair distribution of the community estate. 

If you are ready to file for divorce, have been served with a divorce, or are have a spouse who is not complying with the law, contact Hartley Lamas et al. for a consultation.

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