While it should go without saying that you should be honest with your own divorce attorney, the sad reality is a lot of clients lie. Embarrassment can cause even the smartest person to start attempting to sweep things under the rug.
Look, we already know you’re not perfect. We know your spouse is probably not a mustache-twirling bad guy. We know the situation is complex.
That’s why you hire us in the first place.
But we can’t do our best work if you don’t share the full picture with us, no matter how grim it might look.
1. Financial Realities.
Yes, we’re going to ask you for all the basic data like where you work, where your spouse works, and what kinds of assets and debts you’ve got going for you. But the paperwork doesn’t tell the whole story.
- If you never paid attention to the finances all your life because your spouse always handled that, and you have absolutely no idea what assets your spouse might know about that you don’t, we need to know that. We can help you make a list of assets to look for, including ones which are commonly overlooked.
- The fact that you’re getting a divorce because you were having an affair isn’t a huge deal. This is a no-fault state. But if you spent $3000 in marital funds to take your paramour on a romantic weekend at an expensive resort, then it’s better for you to tell us that up front so we can account for it as we build your strategy.
- Do not be tempted to avoid cluing us into assets you’re hoping to keep out of your spouse’s hands. We can come up with a strategy which could protect those assets, but only if they’re out in the open. If it’s revealed later you are hiding assets there will be consequences, and we won’t be able to shield you from them because you weren’t honest with us, either.
- If your spouse has no clue you ran up $6000 in credit card debt behind his or her back, they’re about to. And you should make sure we know, too, so we can mitigate the damage this bombshell could cause.
We understand that talking about money is extremely uncomfortable for a lot of people. But dividing assets is a fundamental part of the divorce process. So is, in many cases, making arrangements for one spouse to pay another some sort of spousal support sum. Any one of the examples we just named could have a significant impact on that part of the process.
2. Issues Which Could Impact Custody
If you have children then you already know parts of your life are going to come under scrutiny. While the judge is always going to favor trying to foster a relationship between the child and both parents, there are certainly ways you can damage your ability to become the parent your child lives with most of the time.
And some issues could cause a judge to award sole custody, leaving you with little more than a scant amount of supervised visitation time. So you definitely need to be up front with us about:
- Domestic violence incidents, either as the victim or the perpetrator. You should also be prepared to share police reports and hospital records.
- Mental health problems, especially if there were incidents or episodes in the past which could create a cause for concern. If you have medical records and prescriptions which indicate efforts to keep your mental health issue under control that’s generally a positive sign. Mental issues alone are not cause to lose custody, but will factor into the custody case. You do need to give us enough warning to ensure we know how to strategize around it.
- Do you have any history of drug use whatsoever? We need to know about it, even if you are not actively taking drugs right now. Again, a history of drug abuse doesn’t mean you automatically lose your case. It just means we need to account for it.
Of course, we also want to know about the positives! If you’re the one who gets your child to school, gets your child to his or her medical appointments, reads to your child at night, feeds that child and keeps the child’s clothing clean, make sure you tell us and bring any documentation you can produce to that effect. Clients sometimes forget to tell us good things just as often as they forget to tell us bad things.
3. Anything You May Have Done to Complicate the Case
Look, everyone makes mistakes, and unless you were the spouse serving the divorce papers you might have even made yours before you knew a divorce was coming. You might have also made mistakes after you knew, but before you did your research and got a lawyer.
Don’t panic. Just tell us if:
- You moved out of the family home prematurely.
- You lost your temper in a way that could be construed as violent or threatening, even if you’ve never done it before and nobody was hurt. For example, pushed to your limit you threw a dish at the wall and called your spouse a “bastard.” If a divorce weren’t imminent probably nobody would care, but because one is you can bet this is something which could come up in court, or even earlier, as it can help form the basis for Protective orders.
- You posted a rant on social media or posted pictures on social media which could be misinterpreted.
- If you did anything else which you fear could look bad, or impact your case.
We’re not here to judge you. We’re here to advocate for you. We know you’re under a lot of stress, and if you knew exactly what you needed to know, you wouldn’t need us.
Have you chosen your Philadelphia divorce attorney yet?
You can’t tell your attorney a thing, or prep for your case, if you haven’t chosen one yet.
Divorce is a complex legal matter. Even reading this list should give you real pause if you were thinking about trying to represent yourself in your divorce case. Contact the Law Offices of Sadek and Cooper for a free consultation. We’ll help you navigate this difficult time, and we’ll help you avoid making additional mistakes which could have an impact on your case.