Family Law... How Judges Determine Who Is Telling The Truth


Often in family law judges hear two or even more very opposite accounts of an event.

Except in criminal cases, the person asserting a fact must prove it “on the balance of probabilities.” This means the judge must decide if it is more likely than not that the alleged event occurred and there are various ways judges assess credibility.

One judge explained the process [1] by confirming that she considered (as the law requires) all the evidence, but said:

It is important to note, however, that credibility assessment is not a science. It is not always possible to articulate with precision the complex intermingling of impressions that emerge after watching and listening to witnesses and attempting to reconcile the various versions of events and… assessing credibility is a difficult and delicate matter that does not always lend itself to precise and complete verbalization.

With these cautions in mind,  the judge then outlined some factors to consider in this process:


The judge went on to say that she placed “little weight” on witnesses’ demeanor because that is often not a good indicator of truthfulness and noted that a judge is not required to believe or disbelieve all of a witness’ evidence, but rather can believe none, part or all of the testimony and attach different weight to difference parts of the evidence.

There are ways to give more effective evidence. Watch for my upcoming article later this year for tips.

[1] MacNeil v. Playford 2010 NSSC 330, per Justice T. Forgeron.


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