The decision to get a divorce can feel very emotional, and almost 690,000 couples make that decision each year in the US.
It’s a complicated process, and that’s why it helps to consult a divorce attorney. They see things objectively to ensure the best possible outcome for your case.
But when you call in a professional for legal advice on a highly personal decision, what do you tell them?
Family lawyers recommend that you disclose every relevant detail about your marriage and decisions that could have affected your relationship with your spouse.
Of course, everyone has embarrassing secrets they’d rather not talk about, and some details may seem trivial.
However, there are major ramifications of failing to disclose information to your divorce attorney. Here’s why you should tell them everything.
- 1 It Helps Your Divorce Attorney Prepare A Defense
- 2 Hiding Assets Will Work Against You
- 3 Damaging Details Will Come Out Eventually
- 4 They Maintain Confidentiality
- 5 Failing To Disclose Details Hurts Your Custody Case
- 6 Your Ex-Spouse May Not Feel The Same About ‘Trivial’ Details
- 7 Details You Should Disclose To Your Divorce Attorney
It Helps Your Divorce Attorney Prepare A Defense
Remember that even if you fail to disclose certain things to your divorce lawyer, your spouse’s lawyer can discover the information and use it against you in court.
This information can be about domestic violence, drug use, or even an offshore account. But when you don’t disclose it, your divorce lawyer can’t prepare a defense to present during the proceedings.
Clients often have a misconception that some facts are highly damaging and that their attorney can’t prepare for them.
Keep in mind that their job is to develop a well-planned strategy so you can win the best possible settlement. But this is only possible if you provide them with all the facts.
Hiding Assets Will Work Against You
During the divorce process, you may feel tempted not to disclose certain assets. This can be detrimental to the outcome of your case.
If the court learns that you failed to disclose certain assets, it can be a bad look for you. In most states, courts require spouses to disclose all their assets by providing a written inventory.
But when you fail to inform your divorce lawyer about hidden assets, it gives your spouse grounds to ask for a bigger share of marital property.
Damaging Details Will Come Out Eventually
Whether you fail to disclose information because you consider it damaging or trivial, it will come out eventually.
But when this information is disclosed during a trial, it doesn’t give your attorney any chance to come up with a defense.
Even if it feels like the information will make you look bad, remember that divorce lawyers can work with all sorts of facts to prepare a solid case.
For instance, telling your attorney about a mental illness gives them a chance to gather evidence that you’re seeking treatment and are capable of looking after your children.
They Maintain Confidentiality
Your divorce attorney isn’t there to judge you. According to attorney-client privilege, any communication you have with your attorney is confidential.
Therefore, your lawyer can’t share details of your case and the things you tell them with other people.
The objective of attorney-client privilege is to encourage you to be forthcoming and honest when speaking you your family law attorney.
Even if you’re discussing things like adultery, drug use, or domestic violence, you should feel confident that all information you provide will go no further.
Failing To Disclose Details Hurts Your Custody Case
Many people worry that if they struggle with addiction or a mental health issue, they’ll be denied child custody.
Of course, it’s still one of the factors courts consider when determining which parent should receive custody.
But as long as you’re receiving appropriate treatment for the issue, your spouse can’t use it as an argument to deny child custody.
Your Ex-Spouse May Not Feel The Same About ‘Trivial’ Details
During a divorce, each spouse perceives events differently. For you, going on a trip with colleagues from work may seem like a minor detail, but your spouse may feel the opposite if they allege that you were having an affair with someone from work.
When talking to your lawyer, many such events may come to mind, and you’ll wonder whether to talk about them.
If you’re not sure about how it relates to your divorce, just tell your divorce attorney anyway. Your attorney would rather you tell them a few irrelevant details than miss out on a major event that could potentially hurt your case.
Details You Should Disclose To Your Divorce Attorney
If you’re meeting your divorce attorney for the first time, you may not know what details to start with. To help you start the conversation, make sure to cover the following areas:
You and Your Spouse’s Income
Most US states require both spouses to disclose financial information, including their assets, how much they earn, and more.
If the court discovers that you didn’t disclose all your financial information, you could end up facing legal penalties.
Your Relationship With Your Children
If you have children, then child custody will be a crucial part of the proceedings.
Therefore, it’s important to disclose how many children you have, along with their names, ages, and other notable information. More importantly, you should disclose your relationship with each child.
This means providing details about which parent is responsible for managing the children’s day-to-day activities.
Your family law lawyer will ask about how you participate in your children’s lives, so make sure to answer honestly.
Your Criminal Record
If you’ve had any criminal convictions in the past, it can have an impact on your divorce proceedings.
And if you’ve been accused of drug-related crimes or domestic violence, it can affect discussions related to child custody and visitation rights.
That being said, informing your divorce lawyer about your criminal record can help them prepare a defense.
Similarly, you’ll be well prepared to handle any questions about your criminal record as they come up.
Your Biggest Priorities
As a client, you shouldn’t have to worry about looking good in front of your divorce attorney.
Just be yourself. So, when they ask what compromises you’re willing to make during the divorce process, answer honestly.
If child custody or property division is a bigger priority or of less importance, tell them. That way, they can prepare a case in which you’re more likely to get a positive outcome.