People going through a divorce often struggle with this issue. They have information that they believe to be important for their case, but they are too embarrassed to tell their attorney. This is a huge mistake.
If your attorney needs information about your marriage, your breakup, or the activities of you or your spouse it is not only important, it may be vital that you communicate that information even if you find it embarrassing. Although you are not required to reveal any information that you do not want to reveal, if you withhold information it could radically inhibit your attorney's ability to prepare your case, advise you on issues, or otherwise defend you. Family law attorneys hear a lot of intimate information from their clients all the time. The good ones remain non-judgmental toward their clients. Moreover, even though the information is deeply personal to you, it is unlikely that you are going to shock an experienced family law attorney.
Although you may feel uncomfortable disclosing it, your attorney must have complete information in order to prepare your case. The middle of a contested custody case is not the time or place your attorney should be learning about the depths of your substance abuse issues or that the person you have made out to be your star witness is a convicted felon who only recently got off parole. It is your responsibility to ensure that your attorney is not surprised in court where there is not much that can be done. In the two examples I provided, if the person had been honest with the attorney, the lawyer could have assisted her in getting enrolled in a substance abuse program to improve her credibility with the court and another witness could have possibly been used instead of the felon. At trial, those options are not available.
Do not forget, your attorney has an ethical duty of confidentiality meaning that neither the attorney nor the attorney's staff are allowed to reveal your private information. Your attorney can only disclose the information if you give the attorney authorization. Additionally, something that you may feel deeply ashamed about or scared that it will sink your case, may not even be relevant in a modern no-fault divorce. Revealing it to your attorney may actually lift a heavy burden from you. If you have more questions, please contact the Alford Law Office.
Photo courtesy of Michelangelo Carrieri
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