Attorney-Client Privilege and Divorce

  •   |   Meghan Freed

blue border with black lettering that reads attorney-client privilegeIt’s critical to understand the attorney-client privilege if you’re getting divorced in Connecticut.  It has a big impact.  Read on for more.

Definition of Attorney-Client Privilege

Certain information and documents must be shared with the other side in a divorce.  The Connecticut Code of Evidence and the Practice Book lay out what they are. Relevant evidence must be disclosed and is “admissible.” “Admissible” means that the court can allow it to be used as evidence in your divorce.

Relevant Evidence and Exceptions in Divorce

The definition of “relevant” alone takes months to cover in law school.  It’s nuanced.

Even when evidence is relevant, it shouldn’t be disclosed if one of many “exceptions” apply.  You may have heard of some standard evidence exceptions – such as the “hearsay” exception. In addition, evidence that is subject to a privilege is also inadmissible.  One of the most critical privileges in divorce is our topic today – the attorney-client privilege.

Other privileges include:

  • Healthcare provider privileges
  • Privileged communications made to clergy
  • Privilege against self-incrimination, and
  • Settlement, mediation, and negotiation privilege

Understanding the rules of evidence – and strategies for using them as an effective tool – is why it’s so important to work with an experienced divorce attorney.

Read: Discovery in Connecticut Divorces
Read: Evidence in Connecticut Divorces

Who Does the Privilege Cover?

The attorney-client privilege extends to your divorce lawyer and your whole legal team.  In addition, the privilege may cover contacts with experts assisting with your case.  Finally, if you use a translator or an interpreter to assist in your communications with your lawyer, your communications and your lawyer’s advice are still protected.  Consult with your lawyer before sharing anything with a third party.  This will keep you on the right side of the rules.

How Long Will My Privileged Information Be Kept Confidential?

The attorney-client privilege is indefinite.  In other words, your lawyer won’t just keep privileged information private during your divorce; she will keep it confidential forever.

Read: Should I Tell My Divorce Lawyer Everything?

Exceptions to the Attorney-Client Privilege

As we have discussed, the attorney-client privilege is open-ended and includes all members of your legal team, plus certain people outside your law firm assisting with your case.  It doesn’t protect relevant information that is evidence appropriately exchanged in a divorce case, but other than that, your attorney won’t reveal it unless it falls under an exception.  Those exceptions happen only in extreme circumstances, for example, if you sue your attorney, if you reveal the intent to commit certain crimes, or in order to avoid bodily harm or death.

Read: Privacy During Divorce

Waiver of Attorney Privilege

You must be careful not to “waive” or void her attorney-client privilege.  Even if you do so inadvertently, sharing what you discuss with your lawyer or your lawyer’s advice can mean it’s no longer private.  Make sure to consult your attorney before sharing anything with a third party – including friends or relatives.

Read: How Not to Screw Up the Attorney-Client Privilege
Read: Should I Bring My Friend or Relative with Me to My Meeting With My Divorce Attorney?

Next Steps

Please contact us with any questions.

Freed Marcroft LLC

Freed Marcroft LLC