Dear Readers,

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Dear Carolyn,

I want my husband to take a lie detector test. He’s cheating, and I know it. Will the lie detector test tell me what’s going on in his head, not to mention elsewhere? I need some peace of mind. Could I use the lie detector to get him kicked out of my home if he is cheating? What a louse to make me worry and fret like this. I’d like to know exactly what is in his brain.


Carolyn Answers …

I could take your comment about the “brain” literally or figuratively. I have had quite a few clients over the years use lie detector tests to sort out sex scandals. Mostly, clients have found the lie detector test useful when evaluated with other information available. But the “gumshoe” private investigator is still the gold standard. There is an emerging science that is most probably better than the lie detector test, so I”ll also discuss brain fingerprinting.

Lie detector tests are generally not admissible in court because of lack of scientific recognition. That being said, there are huge scientific advancements in brain fingerprinting of great interest in both family law and criminal cases. Perhaps you could consider brain fingerprinting rather than a lie detector test.

Brain fingerprinting, a scary thought, is a technique that tries to determine truth by detecting information stored in the brain with an EEG, which measures brain wave responses. Brain fingerprinting was first introduced in court in 2003 in a murder trial in Iowa, Harrington v. Iowa. The brainwave analyzed is known as the “P300 effect” has 20 years of recognition in the psycho-physiologist scientific community. In Harrington v. Iowa, Dr. Lawrence Farwell testified that Harrington’s brain did not contain information about the murder, but rather than his brain contained information consistent with his alibi.

There are significant implications of brain fingerprinting, evoking images of thought police far more significant than the recently uncovered cyberstalking of Facebook. Are our thoughts protected by the Fifth Amendment? Are thoughts speech? Writers on the topic of brain fingerprinting opine whether it is conceivable to use this information in child custody and child protective proceedings on such issues as sexual abuse, domestic violence, substance and alcohol abuse, and lack of parental interest. In my opinion, the last thing that needs to be available to the already haywire Department of Social Services is brain fingerprinting.

For now, try the lie detector test and a private investigator, but if you have lots of resources get the husband’s brain fingerprinted. There’s no telling what you will learn.



Dear Carolyn,

“Mom, Dad is taking me to the Grasshopper’s Game this weekend,” said my 15-year-old Emma. “Grasshoppers play Charleston Sunday.” Today’s Sunday, and I looked at Emma’s Facebook page. She just posted a picture in the sand at some beach. Written in the sand in 8-foot letters is “Prom Emma?”

So, I called Emma. “Morning Emma. Where are you?” “Dad’s house, getting ready for the Hoppers game. Do you think I should wear my new jeans or what?” “Jeans. Is your father there?” “Sure, Mom. Want to talk to him?” I said, “Yes, please put your father on the phone?”

“Where are you?” “We’re getting ready for the Hoppers game,” says my ex. “I just saw a picture Emma posted to Facebook with some guy asking her to the prom with a sand picture. There aren’t beaches in Greensboro.” Then he hung up on me. Busted, but what do I do? They are at the beach somewhere. Spring break is over. And, worst yet, I think Emma’s boyfriend or at least some boy must be with them. I am suspicious that my ex is with his girlfriend and her 16-year-old son. Everyone knows I am very protective of Emma and I don’t like this situation of being overnight around this 16-year-old boy of his girlfriend. That is against the rules. What do I do? So is this boy taking her to the prom? She’s at my house prom night.


Carolyn Answers …

Deceit and lies. What a tangled web. And, caught on Facebook.

Making this more difficult is the absence of communication with the father and the fact that he hung up on you. From the question, it is hard to say what role you have played in the situation, which is now one of rather desperate non-communication and, even worse, false communication. You have a difficult problem and one that was not made overnight. Are there plausible explanations? Here are some suggestions:

Look at what the motivation was behind the lie. You indicate you are protective. Is your teen daughter seeking more freedom? Probably, and Dad gives her that. Could you have a discussion with her about personal freedom and the responsibility that brings? Let’s start with this conversation in a non-threatening way. Whatever you do, do not call her a liar. While a lie was told apparently, don’t label her.

Make a stronger connection with your teen a priority. Talk to her daily about many, many things. Get into her thought process. That is the only way you can help mold it. This takes time, and connection with the teen is the most reliable prevention to teen lying.

Be more open and less judgmental. Be a receptacle. Then talk about the sacred nature of words. Realize words can be subjective, and truth has some elements of subjectivity.



Send your questions on family law and divorce matters to, or P.O. Box 9023, Greensboro, NC 27427. “Like” Ask Carolyn on Facebook and follow on Instagram and Twitter at Ask_Carolyn. Post questions for consideration for this column. Please do not put identifying information in your questions. Note that the answers in Ask Carolyn are intended to provide general legal information, and the answers are not specific legal advice for your situation. The column also uses hypothetical questions. A subtle fact in your unique case may determine the legal advice you need in your individual case. Also, please note that you are not creating an attorney-client relationship with Carolyn J. Woodruff by writing or having your question answered by Ask Carolyn.