So you walk into a conference room, with a big table and numerous chairs, several pictures and law books around you and you sit down and look across the table at a person in suit and wearing an inquisitive look, and they ask, “Tell me what’s going on.” You just started your first of many meetings with your divorce attorney and thinking about what to tell him or her about your life and marriage.
Divorce can be a difficult and intimidating process for a client, but it can also be made less difficult with full and open disclosure to their attorney and counsel. Walking into an attorney’s office or into a courtroom is an intimidating experience even for the attorneys. Most clients step through these doors because they need help or feel like they are in trouble. Similar to a doctor needing to know all of your symptoms to properly diagnose you ailment, your divorce attorney needs to know as much about what’s going on in your life and what assets you might have so he or she may properly advise and represent you in your divorce.
At a doctor’s visit a patient may be asked to describe all of his symptoms. As the patient thinks about his ailments, he may start to categorize them differently, thinking some are not as important as the other, or he may think that one is too personal to inform his physician about. The physician may treat his patient based off the information his patient provided him with and be able to properly treat the patient. On the other hand, he may prescribe the same treatment to the patient, but because the patient did not inform the physician of all of his symptoms and ailments the prescribed treatment does not work, or worse, it makes things worse.
Full disclosure with your divorce attorney works very similarly to the example above. Without the client fully disclosing his or her assets or actions, the attorney may not properly advise the client on what is the best strategy moving forward in their case. The attorney can spend hours and hundreds or thousands of dollars preparing to try a case based off of the facts he has been presented, then walk into the courtroom and the spouse’s counsel asks the client about a piece of property or about certain actions of the client that his or her attorney was not informed of and that information may negatively affect the client’s case in many ways.
Fully disclosing your assets and your actions is vital in allowing your attorney to assist you in reaching the best outcome in your case. A spouse is likely to know about a client’s assets and actions, especially if the parties have been married for many years. Therefore, it is likely that the spouse’s attorney will know of such assets and actions as well and that he or she will address such information in court or negotiations. In many cases when the client’s spouse knows of or has reasons to believe that the client has not been forthcoming in information, the spouse and their attorney will ask for additional information in the form of interrogatories, request for production of documents , deposition or ask the court to order the client to divulge the information. This can result in unnecessary time and attorney’s fees to the client.
The client can avoid such difficulties in his case by disclosing as much necessary information as possible. To best serve the client’s interest, the client should be prepared to fully disclose all of his assets, debts, and any action that may negatively or positively affect his case. The non-disclosure of such facts to the attorney by the client may negatively affect the court’s opinion of the client’s case if the attorney is unable to adequately prepare to address such facts in court. Your attorney is presenting a story to the court. He or she is presenting the facts of the case to the court in the best light most favorable to this or her client. There are several ways of presenting the truth of a case to the court, and many times it depends on the facts presented to the court. With all of the facts about your case disclosed to your attorney, he or she can tell your story, but without that information, your spouse’s attorney will tell your story in the best light for his client and not you. Who do you want to tell your story?