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Michigan Family Law Blog

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Should I Tell My Divorce Lawyer Everything?

When you walk into a lawyer’s office to get a divorce, you most likely dread having to tell the lawyer about things that do not portray you in a flattering light. By the time the divorce is over, you might feel stripped bare of your privacy if your spouse reveals highly personal information about you and the marital relationship. One of the many questions you have at this time might be, “Should I tell my divorce lawyer everything?”

The answer is yes, you should tell your attorney all the relevant facts, but no, you should not make statements that put your lawyer in the position of having to disclose things like threats to harm or kill your spouse or commit some other crime. A Michigan divorce attorney can advise you on what information you should reveal and which items you might want to keep to yourself.

Embarrassment Versus Blindsiding

It is understandable that you might feel uncomfortable about telling your lawyer things that you do not want to become public knowledge. Your spouse probably knows you better than anyone else. If vindictive, a spouse can ruin a person’s reputation during a divorce.

Embarrassing information can come out in a divorce whether you told your attorney the information or not. You cannot keep something that your spouse knows about quiet merely by not telling your lawyer.

If you do not tell your lawyer about the skeletons in your closet, however, your lawyer can get blindsided by those things during a deposition or in court. Revealing those skeletons will give your attorney the opportunity to develop a strategy that can minimize the fallout from those facts.

Also, your attorney might be able to use other facts to your advantage. You might not realize how valuable some factors can be, so be sure to tell your divorce lawyer all the relevant facts.

Here are some of the facts that people do not like to tell their divorce lawyers about:

  • Affairs and other marital misconduct, like physical or emotional abuse
  • Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), particularly if contracted from marital infidelity
  • Addiction to alcohol or other drugs
  • Gambling
  • Mental health diagnosis and treatment
  • Criminal record

These items can affect custody, spousal support, and the distribution of assets. If your lawyer finds out about a negative issue for the first time in court, there will be no opportunity to get documents and other evidence to explain your side of the situation and reduce the harm to your case.

Attorney Confidentiality

Your lawyer has to keep what you say confidential unless you authorize the disclosure or the situation falls into one of the exceptions. For example, do not tell your lawyer that you are planning to harm or kill your spouse or the children. The attorney has a legal obligation to disclose relevant facts if there is a credible threat of imminent substantial physical harm or death.

Do not take anyone with you to your appointments with your lawyer. If you reveal confidential information in the presence of someone other than your lawyer, the attorney-client privilege can get destroyed. Also, keep your secrets to yourself outside of the lawyer’s office. If you tell your friends, relatives, or co-workers your private information, it is no longer private.

A Michigan divorce attorney can explain the rules about confidentiality and what you should reveal to your divorce lawyer. Contact our office today.


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