Whether or not to reveal all the details of your marriage and the struggles you are facing when you meet with your divorce attorney is a dilemma many individuals must contend with during this difficult time. You may be tempted to limit what you say in order to make yourself appear to be the victim of a troubled marriage, but secrecy can damage your case in the end. If you are in the first stages of your divorce, it is vital to understand why you should tell your divorce lawyer everything, including details that may shed a negative light on you.
Getting It All Out
Although it is difficult to be completely transparent with your attorney, who you have likely just met, getting personal is important. Your divorce case may involve child custody issues and other important factors that may dredge up painful issues from your relationship or past. Keep in mind that your spouse likely knows things about you that you would prefer to keep hidden forever, but those secrets are likely to come out in a contentious divorce. Some of the things that individuals try to keep hidden but may be revealed during divorce proceedings include the following:
- Criminal activity, behavioral issues, and mental health problems that could affect the court’s opinion on your ability to take care of your children
- Addictions to drugs or alcohol that have exhausted your financial resources and may affect your claims for child custody, property division, or alimony
- Sexual infidelity, whether it is a current issue or something from your past
- Any type of cruelty, emotional abuse, or physical abuse which may have caused your partner to leave the home
Trust in the Concept of Attorney-Client Confidentiality
You can feel more at ease with telling your divorce lawyer all of the details of your marriage if you recognize that they must respect the confidentiality of information you share with them. Anything you reveal in meetings with your attorney should be kept between the two of you. Exceptions to this rule may include special situations in which this information must be shared, such as:
- Preventing a client committing a crime in the future or mitigating the consequences
- Preventing significant bodily harm or death
- Clients seeking help for other lawyers regarding ways to comply with court orders and other rules
- A situation in which a client is suing their lawyer
Generally speaking, when you meet with your divorce attorney to discuss your divorce, you have no need to be nervous about sharing all the facts of your case. Know that your attorney will keep your secrets safe whenever possible and is working to preserve your best interests. Even sharing deeply personal information—such as a crime that you have committed at some point in your life, past substance abuse problems, or cases in which you have physically abused your spouse in unreported incidents—should not be something to fear. For this reason, it is vital to secure the services of a Columbia, MO attorney with a trustworthy reputation.
What Are the Consequences of Keeping Secrets From Your Divorce Lawyer?
Although most individuals understand that their secrets will be held in confidence, many individuals still fear sharing everything with their divorce attorney. This can harm your chances to get what you want in the divorce in the end. As you prepare your case, it is vital to inform your attorney of any potential concerns ahead of time. There are three primary reasons to do this.
- When Secrets Come Out at Trial, Your Lawyer May Be Blindsided
The last thing you want to happen at a divorce hearing is for your attorney to be taken by surprise by one of your secrets without the chance to prepare to defend you. This is the main reason keeping secrets from your lawyer is so dangerous. Many times, divorces are settled outside the courtroom, so individuals often choose to keep their secrets from their attorney and simply hope their case never goes to trial. Unfortunately, the very secrets they are trying to keep often become the reason their case ends up in the courtroom.
An experienced attorney has handled cases in which issues like domestic violence, substance abuse, and adultery were involved. As such, they know how to prepare a defense that reduces the harm these secrets can have on your case. However, when your attorney has no idea that these issues exist, they have no time to prepare for them to come up in court. This makes attorney-client confidentiality a vital tool when it comes to working with your lawyer. By revealing your worst secrets, you allow your attorney to plan for them to come up in your case.
- Untreated Addictions or Mental Health Problems Can Harm Your Children
Part of the reason many parents try to hide their past or present substance abuse problems or psychological issues is the fear it will affect their chances for getting custody of their children. Hiding these problems may cause parents to choose to cancel therapy appointments, discontinue necessary medications, or smuggle alcohol or drugs into the home.
In truth, a mental health issue that is being treated properly is not a deal-breaker for the courts, even when it comes to custody. In fact, the judge is more likely to scrutinize your actions more in situations where they have been informed by your former spouse that your physical or mental health may preclude you from providing proper care for your children. In many cases, it is best to admit to psychological conditions and show you are receiving the necessary treatment, rather than try to hide an issue that is likely to come out in court.
- Hiding Assets May End up Costing You More
When a couple is going through a contentious divorce, it is not uncommon for one or both spouses to attempt to hide their assets to prevent the courts from awarding them to their former partner. They may do this by giving cash gifts to friends or family before filing for divorce or even by attempting to transfer assets into personal accounts.
Doing this is unwise because assets are nearly always revealed through the use of forensic accountants, depositions, subpoenas, and other means of discovery. Obfuscating assets can lead to an increase in your attorney fees, so the assets you are attempting to hide will be spent in the long run. In addition, when your spouse’s divorce lawyer uses discovery tactics to locate assets you should have disclosed, it can severely damage your credibility in the eyes of the judge.
Trust in Your Columbia, MO Divorce Lawyer
Stange Law Firm has a reputation for integrity and trustworthiness. You can feel confident that any information you share will be kept between you and your lawyer. Sharing as much as possible before your divorce begins allows us to prepare a defense in case your spouse exposes your secret in the courtroom. To find a divorce attorney you can have faith in, visit our website today.