Privacy During Divorce
Many people are concerned about privacy during a divorce. There are two types of information to consider. First, there’s information to which both sides are entitled. You can create significant problems for yourself if you improperly handle that evidence. That said – there are also some types of information that you can legitimately keep private in a divorce. It’s important to know what you can keep confidential – and how to avoid inadvertently putting it into play.
Read on to learn more.
What Is Your Ex Entitled to During Divorce?
The legal term for the facts and documents that parties exchange in a divorce is “Discovery.” The idea is that the spouses exchange relevant information so everyone has the same data. There aren’t supposed to be “gotchas!” like you see on tv. Instead, the rules generally specify that both sides provide the important basics early in the case – and update them as the case progresses. (Your lawyer has tools to flag it for the court if the other side doesn’t play by the rules and critical data is missing.) The intent is that the sooner both parties understand the scope of the relevant evidence in the divorce, the more likely they will be able to resolve their case outside of court (or prepare for trial if necessary).
The Basic Documents Exchanged in a Connecticut Divorce
The rules in Connecticut provide for the exchange of standard documents that we refer to as the “Mandatory Disclosures,” as well as financial affidavits containing the spouses’ respective income, expenses, liabilities, assets, and health insurance information.
What will be relevant beyond the mandatory disclosures depends on the issues at play in that specific case.
Don’t Hide Assets or Information
Some people are tempting not to disclose all their financial assets, typically out of a desire not to share them with their ex. It’s a bad idea to avoid legitimate discovery, including hiding assets. First, it’s rarely successful. Your ex’s lawyer has many tools to track down assets, including deposing people aware of their existence or hiring forensic accountants. This creates all sorts of problems for you down the road. For example, attempts to hide assets undermine your credibility with the court.
When you share information with your attorney in advance, your lawyer can design a strategy to address it. If you don’t, you force your lawyer into the position of being unprepared and having to clean it up reactively and on the fly. This also increases your legal fees in a way that you could have avoided. Don’t send your lawyer in with one hand tied behind her back. Make sure you disclose all your assets to your attorney to stay on the right side of the discovery rules and the court – and put your lawyer in the best position to help you.
How To Avoid Disclosing More Than Is Required
You need not share all information with the other side via discovery in a divorce. In fact, you can share certain information with your attorney, receive legal advice, and both will stay private and confidential thanks to the attorney-client privilege.
There are ways that you can “waive” the attorney-client privilege. “Waiving” the privilege means that information or advice you wanted to stay private may no longer be. For example, if you disclose information otherwise protected by the privilege to a third party – even inadvertently – you risk waiving the attorney-client privilege.
Don’t Inadvertently Waive the Attorney-Client Privilege
Don’t tell or share with others what you discuss with your attorney (including online or in “private” messages). Because this can constitute a waiver of the attorney-client privilege, the court may admit communications containing that information into evidence. Plus, the person you communicated with may be deposed or even called to testify at trial. And remember, it doesn’t matter how close you are to that person – whether they are your best friend or even your mom – a third party, is a third party, is a third party when it comes to waiving the attorney-client privilege.
Privacy After Divorce
You may also wonder whether the details of your divorce becoming public after your divorce are final. First, the attorney-client privilege is indefinite. Your legal team will continue to keep privileged information confidential in the future. However, most court records themselves are public information.
Please contact us if you have any questions about privacy during divorce or anything else.