Can I Bring a Friend or Family Member to My Consultation?

The short answer is yes, you can bring someone with you to your initial consultation.  Whether you should bring someone or allow that person to sit through the entire meeting is another matter.  Going to see a divorce/custody attorney for the first time can be intimidating and scary.  Having someone else there can be a great resource for support and comfort.  This person might be your designated note taker so you can focus on listening to the attorney and asking questions that are pressing on your mind.  Your friend can also help make sure that you ask everything that is concerning you.  They might also help keep you organized and make sure you give the attorney all of the information he or she may need.  Keep in mind that this is your consultation and it is important that the attorney hear the facts of the case from you and that you discuss your goals.

It is also important that your consultation with the attorney be as open and honest as possible.  Everything you discuss with the attorney, whether you retain the attorney or not, is to be held in the strictest of confidence.  Nevertheless, there are sometimes issues involved in a divorce that may be embarrassing to you and difficult to share.  This can be double tough when your mom or best friend from grade school is sitting next to you.  If there are certain facts that you are embarrassed to share with your friend or relative present, you should probably ask them to wait outside while you discuss them with the attorney in private.  While the attorney has a duty of confidentiality to you, your friend or family member owes you no such duty.

Another reason to ask your companion to wait in the lobby is due to attorney-client privilege.  The attorney-client privilege is different from the attorney's duty of confidentiality.  The duty of confidentiality binds the attorney to not reveal your secrets or other information about you.  The attorney-client privilege deals with the judicial system and your ability to invoke the privilege to prevent a court from requiring the attorney to reveal information about you.  That privilege applies to all communications you have with your attorney unless those communications also involved third parties (i.e. your mother was sitting next to you).  In that case, the privilege may be deemed waived as to any communications that took place while that third party was present.  Long story short, be careful about you bring with you to your consultation and what you say in their presence.

Photo courtesy of Allen

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