Are you thinking about filing for divorce? According to data from a study by the American Psychological Association, around 40% to 50% of first marriages will end in divorce. Divorce rates for second marriages are even higher, with approximately 60% to 67% of them ending in divorce.
The statistics show divorce rates in America are highest among young adults aged 25 to 39, and most divorces occur at the end of five years of marriage. Couples cite that the most common reasons for filing for divorce are infidelity, communication issues, and financial issues affecting the household.
While divorce is common in American families, the couple’s situation plays a deciding factor in the divorce process itself. Most short-term marriages where the couple doesn’t have children result in a less time-consuming and complex divorce process. Whereas long-term marriages where the couple has children and co-mingled assets and debts can be lengthy affairs to finalize.
Some couples agree to end their relationship amicably, and others decide to fight each other tooth and nail. Those with serious relationship problems may end up fighting each other in court on issues like child custody and support, debt allocation, asset and property division, and spousal support.
As a result of the lengthy court process, these couples incur more costs during the divorce process and experience a higher level of stress than those that choose an amicable ending to their relationship. In some cases, one party to the relationship may choose to ask the other to take a polygraph test to prove their side of the argument.
Polygraphs present a useful solution for proving grounds for divorce in cases involving gambling debts, infidelity, and other matters. However, it’s not a simple process. This post examines if lie detector results can provide sufficient evidence for proving grounds for divorce and the validity of its use in divorce proceedings.
Polygraphs and the Divorce Petition
There are several reasons why a couple might decide to file for divorce. Sometimes, it’s as simple as a young couple realizing they don’t want to continue the relationship, resulting in an amicable split. In other cases, it might be that one spouse is cheating on the other, causing a massive rift in the relationship and a souring of feelings between the partners.
The reason for providing grounds for the divorce isn’t up to the couple to decide. It comes down to what the court considers adequate legal grounds. In essence, the person filing for divorce must prove that their marriage is in the process of an irretrievable and irreversible breakdown.
The grounds for filing for divorce must fall into a legally defined category for the court to approve the divorce and for the couple to settle the divorce case. Divorces typically fall into two categories: at-fault or not-at-fault filings. Let’s unpack the difference between the two.
Grounds for At-Fault Divorce Filings
Accepted legal reasons for filing for divorce vary depending on the state where the couple resides. Let’s review the commonly accepted grounds when filing for an at-fault divorce.
- One of the partners in the marriage is cheating on the other, resulting in either party filing for divorce.
- One of the partners is involved in bigamy, where they have more than one family.
- One of the partners suffers from a mental disorder or mental illness leading to their incapacity at the time of their marriage.
- If there is a marriage between close relatives.
- If the man is important at the time of marriage or the woman is infertile.
- If there is fraud or force involving the partner being married.
- If one of the partners receives a criminal conviction or imprisonment.
- If there is physical or mental abuse in the relationship.
- If one of the partners has issues with alcoholism or drug addiction.
The person in the relationship must review the at-fault grounds for divorce in their state before approaching an attorney to start the filing process. If the matter goes to trial, the filing party must prove their partner’s misconduct during the court proceeding.
So, the filing party needs to be well-prepared before approaching an attorney and starting the process. For instance, if the filing party is filing for divorce based on their partner’s infidelity, they need more than a mere suspicion that their partner is unfaithful.
In such a case, the party would benefit from proof provided by a private investigator into their spouse’s infidelity. A failed polygraph exam could bolster the private investigators’ work, proving grounds for divorce to the court.
Grounds for No-Fault Divorce
All states in America offer couples a form of no-fault divorce. However, the filing party must have legal grounds to base their filing for divorce. Most no-fault divorce cases occur under one of the following three terms.
- Incompatibility between the partners.
- Irreconcilable differences between partners.
- Irretrievable breakdown of the marriage beyond recovery.
The no-fault grounds for divorce usually occur when both partners want to exit the relationship, ending it in an amicable split, resulting in an easy divorce process. With at-fault grounds, the partners usually have bad blood between each other, resulting in a lengthy and expensive divorce process.
The no-fault divorce process doesn’t require the filing party to provide a burden of proof as to why they want to end the marriage. As a result, it’s less costly and doesn’t take as much time to settle the process as with at-fault grounds.
Deciding Between At-Fault or No-Fault Divorce Filings
Several factors determine whether the filing party wishes to file for at-fault or no-fault grounds for divorce. Does the filing party have proof of their partner’s misconduct? If not, then filing for divorce based on no-fault grounds is the only option in this case.
If the filing party or the couple doesn’t have the funds to battle each other in court, they may decide to use no-fault grounds to avoid the expense of going to court and a lengthy legal battle. However, in those states where the misdeeds and actions of the filing party’s spouse may influence the allocation of alimony and division of property by the court, it might be worth it for the filing party to file on at-fault grounds.
For instance, if the offending spouse spent family funds on an expensive gift for their lover, the filing party may ask for financial reimbursement from the court for the share of monies squandered by the spouse, receiving it as part of their final financial settlement.
While a divorce lawyer can assist the filing party with their decision to file on at-fault or no-fault grounds, the final decision lies with the filing party. However, an attorney can help the filing party analyze the evidence they have in their at-fault case, determining if the proof for grounds is sufficient in the eyes of the court.
When Can a Polygraph Assist in Filing for Divorce?
A polygraph test can benefit both parties when filing for at-fault grounds for divorce. Depending on the situation, the lie detector exam could have two different outcomes for either party. For instance, one of the parties to the relationship may assume their partner is cheating on them. They hire a private investigator, and the investigation results show the partner’s possible infidelity.
The filing party may ask their partner to take a lie detector test to prove their fidelity to the relationship without revealing the investigation results to them before the test. If the offending spouse takes the polygraph and fails, they could use the result to bolster their case against them in court, resulting in a favorable outcome.
Or the spouse might take the polygraph test and pass it. This might benefit their side of the argument in court, in the case where they are innocent of their spouse’s claims of infidelity. There are several cases of “Othello Syndrome,” when one spouse has severe jealousy issues towards their partner and their behavior.
In this instance, the spouse under suspicion could use the polygraph test results to prove their fidelity and receive a settlement in their favor when the trial goes to court. Typically, polygraph results alone are insufficient grounds for divorce in legal proceedings that end up- in court.
However, a failed polygraph result may give the filing party leverage they need to receive a better settlement during the negotiations phase of the divorce proceedings.
Does My Spouse Have to Consent to a Polygraph?
If a spouse suspects their partner of cheating on them or gambling away their finances, they can ask their partner to submit to a polygraph if they deny the accusations. However, the offending partner doesn’t have to comply with their request. It’s illegal to force anyone to take a polygraph as grounds for divorce.
So, the partner can refuse the polygraph request, and the filing party may not use their refusal as grounds for divorce or to prove that their refusal provides suspicion of infidelity. However, if the offending spouse voluntarily takes the polygraph, it changes the outcome.
It’s important to note that some people are better liars than others, and the results of a passed polygraph exam may change the outcome of the offending spouse’s case. As a result, the filing party might damage their case against the offending spouse.
For instance, the offending spouse might be a pathological liar. The polygraph has a tough time identifying deceptive behavior in pathological liars. These individuals don’t experience feelings of guilt and shame when telling lies.
As a result, their psychology may not cause the triggering of the “Fight-or-Flight” response when under polygraph examination. The fight-or-flight response is what examiners look for during the polygraph test to determine if the test subject is being deceptive with their answers.
Are Polygraph Results Admissible in Divorce Court?
Moist courts throughout the United States don’t accept polygraph results as admissible evidence in any court proceedings, including divorce cases. The court sees the test results as unreliable and will not allow the filing party’s attorney to use them as standalone evidence during court proceedings.
However, the attorney may introduce polygraph results to substantiate and support other evidence, such as the results of a private investigation into the offending spouse’s infidelity. Typically, both attorneys on either side of the case must agree for the polygraph test results to be admitted into evidence in the proceedings.
That might be challenging to negotiate. However, the attorneys may come to an agreement on the admission of the test results as evidence before the execution of the test. For instance, if the filing party claims their spouse is cheating, and the spouse knows they have nothing to hide, they may agree to the test and its admission of results in court proceedings.
If they were to pass the test, this action would make their case persuasive in court while damaging the filing parties’ case.
Who Carries Out the Polygraph Exam in Divorce Cases?
Divorces are private matters, not state prosecutions. As a result, the filing party requesting their partner to take the polygraph will have to arrange the lie detector test. The filing party will have to nominate a private polygraph company to conduct the test, and the firm will appoint an independent examiner to host the proceedings.
The filing party is also responsible for the costs of the exam. Suppose the test confirms the filing parties’ suspicions of their spouse’s activity. In that case, they can argue for the spouse to accommodate the exam costs during the settlement process and vice versa.
How Do I Convince My Spouse to Take a Polygraph?
Convincing your spouse to take a polygraph as part of divorce proceedings can be challenging or easy, depending on the situation. For instance, if your spouse is guilty of your accusation, they may refuse your request to take the lie detector test. After all, why would they do it if there’s a chance it confirms your suspicions and may bolster your case?
Or the spouse may consent to the polygraph test to prove their innocence and bolster their side of the argument in the divorce proceedings. It’s a tricky situation to navigate, and the merits of each case require careful consideration before deciding to request a polygraph.