In a family court matter, a petitioner for more support funds completed a form, signed it (perjury?) certifying he was a resident in a county he does not live in. Is the readily provable false statement grounds for dismissal?

The state is New York, and I am not a party to the action. I am curious how to attack this type of situation. I could not find anything in Siegel's New York Practice.

In summary, the application form (Petition) and applicant statement is impeached by their testimony on the form, under penalty of perjury. (I am not certain that the penalty of perjury statement is appropriate on such a form, but that is a different matter.) Certainly one could attack the credibility of the applicant, but I am curious if such an issue is more fundamental than that.

4 Answers 4


Misstating the truth is not perjury

Perjury is deliberately lying under oath to gain a material advantage.

For the situation you describe:

  • You might be wrong and they actually do live where they say they do
  • they might be wring and they genuinely think they live where they say they do, being wrong is not perjury
  • it’s unlikely to administrate info in the form actually carries the penalty of perjury, it probably isn’t testimony
  • unless it will positively and substantially affect the outcome of the case in their favour, it isn’t material
  • You lack standing to interfere in the case in any event

If this were brought to the attention of the court the most likely outcome would that it would just be corrected.

  • You spelled favor wrong. (Just a joke.)
    – Putvi
    Commented Nov 19, 2019 at 19:39
  • Standing is a non-issue. As I said, I am just trying to understand possible defenses, and not really worried about the matter. The form gives the applicant's address which is clearly 50 miles away. The applicant serves on a town board and I am certain they are well aware of what county they live in. But again, those details are rather insignificant, the issue is whether there is reason to dismiss (without prejudice) a Petition when it is false on the face of the document.
    – mongo
    Commented Nov 19, 2019 at 20:08
  • He and I have both told you that you can't just say it should or should not be dismissed based on one thing being false. If the false statement significantly affects the case then yes. This person lying about where he lives probably makes no difference. @mongo
    – Putvi
    Commented Nov 19, 2019 at 20:10

If it is a family court matter, what country the person is from may not matter. Some judges will only focus on the relevant details.

The judge is the only one who can really decide if that is a big enough issue to the case, but if you are only trying to attack the other party for lying and the rest of the document is sound and makes legal sense, you may not prevail with that argument.

  • It's not an issue of country (your line 1). It is an issue of applying in another county, to take advantage of free services, even though one has to lie to get them. Ultimately it is an issue of character of Petitioner, but again, I am looking to see if there is a procedural way of dealing with a similar Petition.
    – mongo
    Commented Nov 19, 2019 at 20:11
  • @mongo I understand what you mean, and I understand why you would be upset about someone lying, but just to be honest, you can really only make it an issue if it is relevant to the case. It is just set up that way so that you can't just get someone to lie about something insignificant then get them in trouble
    – Putvi
    Commented Nov 19, 2019 at 20:17
  • OK. Thanks. Understood. I guess I was looking for a maxim or some other guidance, which states that he who is untruthful once will be untruthful many times. But I remember a DA once commenting that everyone lies and if they prosecuted perjury, half the county would be in jail.
    – mongo
    Commented Nov 20, 2019 at 0:08

Generally speaking, the remedy if the county of residence was misstated would be a motion for change of venue, rather than dismissal or any other sanction. And, if a motion for change of venue was not filed, any objection to venue would be deemed waived.

Lack of residence in a state might impair one's legal rights, but it is hard to see how misstating for some reason, one's county of residence is material, or how you would prove it was intentional. Only an intentional and material misstatement is punishable as perjury, and, in practice, perjury prosecutions are exceedingly rare.

For example, I recently encountered a divorce case filed in a county other than a county of residence simply because someone was mistaken about the county that they lived in, which happens all the time because county lines are not very familiar to many people.

  • I understand mistakes, but on information, I believe Petitioner utilized free services of one county to have prepared a Petition for another county, and have good reason to believe Petitioner knew well what county they are in, as they serve on a Town Board, where county matters and relationships are frequent topics. Thank you for your comments, however.
    – mongo
    Commented Nov 22, 2019 at 2:25

I'm not sure about in New York. In Nevada, apparently

"Lying parties and their witnesses also are shielded from civil liability for the closely related torts of slander and libel for falsehoods committed during a judicial proceeding. The Restatement (First) of Torts ' 588 (1938), states: “A witness is absolutely privileged to publish false and defamatory matter of another in communications preliminary to a proposed judicial proceeding and as a part of a judicial proceeding in which he is testifying, if it has some relation thereto.” This privilege is meant to encourage witnesses to speak freely, and without fear of civil liability." - FindLaw Attorney Writers

So the best way to argue it successfully, would probably to somehow convince the judge that they are in contempt of court.

  • Please note that this does not apply to the attorney's. Any defamatory comment made by them, they are entirely liable for.
    – LawCurious
    Commented Dec 11, 2020 at 5:15

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