Tonight's post on being honest with your attorney was written by our
Atlanta Family Law attorney, Dina Khismatulina.
In this blog post I really want to discuss the importance of being honest
with your attorney. Getting a divorce or fighting for custody of your
children entails revealing and discussing a lot of information that is
considered deeply private: from details of your marital relations to the
ways you discipline your kids, from your tax returns, information about
your financial assets, retirement plans, to drug usage, sex habits, and
alcohol consumption. These are definitely not details normal people normally
like to discuss. But in a divorce action, and especially if minor children
are involved, both parties' behavior will be closely scrutinized and
put under the spotlight.
Do not think that you can hide your DUIs, DFCS investigations, or any other
flaws, real or imaginary, in order to portray yourself as a better parent/person,
avoid an unpleasant discussion, or increase your chances for success.
By hiding information from your family law attorney, you are doing exactly
the opposite. In the age of totally and easily accessible information,
it is only a matter of time before the truth will come out. Nowadays,
the majority of decent law firms run background checks on their own clients
and opposing parties immediately after being retained. Even a routine
screening of your social network (Facebook, Instagram, etc.) can yield
lots of information. Just imagine what an experienced private investigator can do.
And if an opposing counsel did his or her homework and is not deficient
at strategizing, the truth will out at the most crucial moment - during
trial and in front of the judge. Remember that your attorney is always
on your side, and the last thing he or she is going to do is to judge
you. Keep in mind that almost all the information received by an attorney
from a client, with narrow exceptions, is subject to attorney-client privilege
or attorney's duty of confidentiality, so your counsel is under legal
obligation not to reveal received information.
Under Georgia Rule of Professional Conduct 1.6, "a lawyer shall maintain
in confidence all information gained in the professional relationship
with a client, including information which the client has requested to
be held inviolate or the disclosure of which would be embarrassing or
would likely be detrimental to the client, unless the client gives informed
consent, except for disclosures that are impliedly authorized in order
to carry out the representation, or are required by these Rules or other
law, or by order of the Court". Full disclosure, no matter how embarrassing
or awful, gives your attorney a chance to figure out a way to minimize
potential damage in advance, or, if possible, even to
use such information to your advantage, and be ready when the time comes. Forewarned is forearmed, as an old
Or, using the famous words of Jerry Maguire -
"Help me, help you". Help your attorney help you. You are paying your attorney, so it is in
your best interest to have him or her well equipped to face the challenge.
Further, under Georgia law, if you lie to your attorney or withhold information
and, as a result, a frivolous action or defense was asserted, you could
be forced to pay the opposing party's attorney's fees and litigation
costs (O.C.G.A. Â§ 9-15-14).
So, next time your attorney asks you whether there is anything else he
or she should know, please tell him or her the truth. Do not waste time
and money: disclose all the relevant information
Help them help you.