Catherine Hyde, Paralegal
“Alternative facts” has now become a new catch phrase. What is an alternative fact? My take on it is that if I am doing the telling I believe my statement to be a plausible alternative to the truth. The question is, if it is an alternative to the truth is it in fact a lie?
In a matrimonial matter there are two parties and for ease of reference we will refer to them as “husband” and “wife” although they may be of same sex or living common law and deemed partners.
The husband sees the couch as “blue”. The wife sees the couch as “grey”. Is one of them stating an alternative fact? It may be that one of them is colour blind and they truly see the couch as the specific colour they have stated. That is their truth.
What if the wife states that the husband never helped with the children? He worked long hours and was never available to help with the meals, bedtime routine etc. The husband states that he worked long hours but always ensured that he was home at dinner time to help out with the children’s homework and bedtime routine and then would do some work at home. Who is stating the truth? Who is stating an alternative fact? Perhaps they are both stating the truth. It is their perceived truth. When one is hurting they may see things in a certain perspective that may or may not be entirely true. Having started court proceedings they are trying to make their case that they are the better parent. This may skew their vision.
It is important for your lawyer to be able to get to the truth and determine if perhaps there is a different side to the story. One should be careful of utilizing terms such as “never” and “always”. If you have chosen to tell your lawyer an alternative fact, that is, a fact skewed in your favour over the truth, your lawyer is not going to be able to help you sort out your issues. It is best to look at the overall picture and be as truthful as you can. It takes two usually to bring the situation to the crisis point where you have sought to proceed by way of Court. Both of you will have your “side of the story” but so long as you do not rely on alternative facts and simply rely on the truth, your lawyer will be able to help you in an efficient and less time consuming manner. If your lawyer has to dig through the alternative facts to get to the truth, this will prolong matters and be costly to you.
Take a big breath, look at your situation in an impartial, non-emotional manner and provide your lawyer with the true facts.