It happens all the time and I can see it coming from a mile away. There will be an uncomfortable pause in our meeting and a client will say- “There is one thing that I have been meaning to tell you…” At that point, something is revealed that I would have ideally been told in the initial meeting.
Even if a little late, telling your attorney the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth is essential.
I understand why people wait to tell their lawyer about the skeletons in their closet. This stuff is embarrassing. It is something that you have been hiding from friends and family and not talking about it is easier than the reality. Maybe it is a one night stand. Maybe it is an affair. Maybe it is an abortion. Maybe it is closet pornography or drug use. Maybe you drink too much. Maybe you are taking medicine for depression or anxiety or some other physical or mental condition. Maybe you have been talking on the phone to your college sweetheart with whom you reconnected on Facebook. Whatever it is, it is okay to tell your attorney. The greatest privilege in all of the law is the attorney/client confidentiality privilege. When you tell your lawyer, it is in the vault only to be revealed when it is totally necessary to put you in the best possible legal position.
There is something liberating and disarming about speaking one’s secrets out loud. Our imagination can often make something much worse than it really is. We suppose because we spend so much time and energy obsessing about and protecting our secrets that they are bigger than they actually may be. Guilt mixed into the equation makes it worse. As your attorney- our job is not to judge you. Heck, I have my own garbage. The great thing about being a divorce lawyer is that you are on the computer side of the desk. The other side is where all the soul searching happens. I’ve been on that side of a lawyer’s desk and it isn’t fun.
We lawyers are better equipped to help you if we know all the facts. Two people in the world that you cannot surprise are divorce lawyers and judges. We have heard it all. Your lawyer needs to know everything so we can help you, and you never want your Mississippi divorce attorney to be surprised- especially in the courtroom. In a family law case in Mississippi, 95% of the usable evidence comes from the parties. All you have to differentiate your version of the facts from your adversary’s is your credibility. If you get caught in a lie, you will have no credibility. You will be less likely to be caught in a lie if your lawyer sees the ambush coming. Get it?
Our job is to help you. If I know everything- I can do it better. Your life is going to look differently. In all my years of family law practice in Mississippi I have learned one thing for certain- the truth will usually come out. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but one day- the truth will rise to the top. Help us help you by being honest from the very beginning. If you do not trust your lawyer enough to share your dirty laundry, find another lawyer.
Craig Robertson is a family law attorney practicing throughout Mississippi.