Attorney-client privilege really exists. It is not to be taken lightly either by members of the legal profession or their clients. You hear the phrase bandied about on TV shows, or you read it in a Scott Turow novel. Yet it often overshadows a more vital concept that seldom makes its way into popular fiction, television and movies. Lawyer confidentiality, says the American Bar Association1, is a guiding principle. Lawyers have to be both honest and discreet. This means you should—you must—tell your divorce lawyer everything.
1. The Ugly Truth Will Come Out
At the beginning of your divorce proceedings with your attorney, the two of you will go over your entire married and personal history. Suppose you withhold from your lawyer that time when your wife called the police and charged you with domestic violence. Nobody wants to openly confess that sort of thing to a stranger, but you may have to admit to it in open court. You can be sure your wife’s lawyer will have that nugget of information.
Your lawyer can only prepare a defense against issues if you pass on information honestly, right up front. This way, the answer to every question you get asked—by your own lawyer or your wife’s attorney—is already known to your own lawyer.
2. Lawyers Have Heard It All
In Virginia, divorce law includes fault divorce for things like adultery, sodomy, and buggery. A divorce lawyer has heard everything. Seriously, nothing you have done will phase your attorney, so thinking your deeds are too embarrassing to admit just impedes effective representation.
We are not saying you won’t feel a little shame in admitting to your lawyer some sexual peccadillo, but practicing saying it to your lawyer readies you for hearing it described in open court. Lawyers represent people like the Virginia woman indicted recently for having sex with a dog, so anything you can do will likely make no one blush.
3. Your Lawyer Wants to Trust You
You are not clever. Keep telling yourself that, because otherwise you will try to outfox your own lawyer by hiding something. This breaks the trust you two must have. Your lawyer is not trying to be clever, either, but simply to work hard to represent you as fairly and justly as possible. Your lawyer is legally bound to accept what you say as your version of events. Do not lie to your lawyer because you will sever the bond to your best ally in your divorce.
Wait…we’re sorry, did that last part talk about sex with a dog? O. M. G. Why, really, it’s been…about a year since we heard about a similar case. No kidding, they come up all the time.
4. Preparation Matters
You are paying your lawyer to prepare a strong case so the judge rules in your favor during the divorce. The lawyer prepares evidence, takes depositions, arranges witnesses, and files motions. Every step is carefully prepared to make courtroom time brief and meaningful. No surprises!
No matter what you have to tell your lawyer, get the surprises over with in private, well ahead of court time. This way your attorney is fully prepared and ready to handle the supposed “revelations” you already shared.
We know you’re still thinking about it. The dog case. We know. In Virginia, “beastiality” is sex with an animal, while “buggery” is a loosely defined legal term from the Code of Virginia for either sex with animals, or sodomy, or both. It doesn’t matter, because sodomy and buggery are fault grounds for divorce.
5. Be Honest About Your Feelings
Your attorney may ask you questions to test your resolve. Do not adopt false bravado, telling your lawyer you can handle anything the other side throws at you. If you suspect, for example, your wife will put a former girlfriend on the stand against you, and you know you will dissolve in court upon seeing her, tell your attorney.
If you are getting exhausted, mentally and emotionally, by the process, tell your attorney. Divorce proceedings take months, even years, so you may be able to squeeze out a weekend away from the tension and drama. If, on the other hand, you disappear without telling your lawyer where you are going, your case could fall apart.
No, we do not have any more information about the dog case. Give it a rest, will you? The whole “buggery” thing comes from very early Virginia law, and is really just a holdover nobody has gotten around to repealing.
First, Find the Right Family Law Attorney
Of course the first step to being completely honest with your lawyer is to hire a lawyer. Contact The Firm For Men’s Virginia Beach office at 757-383-9184 so we can schedule your first meeting with an experienced men’s divorce attorney. Be ready to divulge your darkest secrets.