Sex, lies and scandalous videos of celebrities fill the daily tabloid magazines and go viral on the internet. But what about you? You are not a celebrity, why does what you do in your personal life matter? Sex, lies, and scandalous videos can be very damaging to you if you find yourself embroiled in a hotly contested divorce, custody, or paternity case.
Almost everyone has something “private” and often times you think you are sharing something personal with someone you are involved in a trusting relationship with. However, when the gloves come off, these types of private occurrence come to light and can be embarrassing and damaging.
So why should you disclose this to your attorney, even if you think all your tracks are covered, the evidence is destroyed, or your former spouse or significant other would never bring these things up in court? The very simple answer is, with this digital age, nothing is ever permanently destroyed, and when your former spouse or significant other wants to win, all bets are off.
The truth is, this may never come up in court, but, the last thing you would want is for your attorney to be blind sighted during a trial with this type of scandalous information that could potentially be damaging or could portray you in a bad light. When you tell your attorney ahead of time, he or she can prepare a defense or strategy (such as admitting to first before the other side has a chance to paint you in a bad light), or be on the look out to object or otherwise, just in case.
Some examples of things that may not immediately come to mind in a contested child custody action, that you should disclose to your attorney, even if you think it will never come up (because inevitably, it will):
- Illegal drug use and Prescription drug abuse: Marijuana use is typically not treated favorably by courts in Indiana (even though other States’ laws have become more lax on the subject). If you alleged drug use by the other party, be ready to be tested yourself. There are typically three (3) types of tests –breathalyzer (for alcohol use), urine screens, blood, and hair follicle, all of which have a range with respect to how far the test goes back in time. Even if you have a prescription, (and especially if you don’t), there may be allegations of over use and abuse. Be prepared to be tested, explain your use, provide medical proof, and even have a doctor prepared to testify if need be that your use is appropriate if you use any prescription substance1.
- Videos, Pictures, and Pornography: Videos and pictures of a sexual nature, even if with your significant other, can be used or twisted to be used to show that you engage in deviate behavior. Be aware if these exist, where they are, or if they are destroyed. In this digital age, many computers or other devices do not totally destroy files even if you delete them. Pornography is another example of something that many people view or do in their personal adult time, which could be used to portray you poorly during a custody dispute. Be aware of what your former significant other knows, and share with your attorney any and everything that could be used by the other side. Your attorney can help you to determine what to disclose up front so as to beat the other side to the punch and preserve your credibility, and what to prepare a defense about.
- Tax evasion: Oftentimes in divorce cases, when property division, and other financial matters are at issue, and the parties own a small or family business, the issue of cash received comes up. Allegations tend to float around that there are unclaimed cash receipts. Be aware if you are a small business owner, and disclose to your counsel if you collect funds that you do not report on your tax returns, or have other questionable business practices. It is your attorney’s job to protect your interests to the best of his or her ability, within the professional rules, and nondisclosure could find you in the hot seat at trial, trying to explain on the spur of the moment.
Ultimately, domestic litigation brings out these common themes that can catch litigants off guard, often to your detriment. If you think something won’t come out; it probably will. Remember, if you disclose it to your attorney, the conversation with your attorney is confidential, and privileged and your lawyer needs to know prepare for it.
We hope that you have found this information to be helpful in understanding some potential things you should consider disclosing to your attorney during a divorce or custody proceeding. This is not intended to be legal advice. If you have questions or concerns about your specific case, Dixon & Moseley, P.C. can help evaluate your specific case. This blog post was written by Attorney, Lori B. Schmeltzer.