If you are facing a divorce, you should consult a divorce lawyer to assess your case and ensure the process proceeds smoothly.
Although most divorce attorneys offer free consultations, you may be apprehensive because you want the information you disclose to them to remain confidential.
Thankfully, Florida’s rules regarding attorney-client privilege in divorce proceedings ensure that everything you disclose to your lawyer will remain confidential.
What is Considered Privileged Information in Florida Divorce Cases?
Privileged information refers to information that is not permitted to be shared with another party without your consent.
In addition to attorney-client privilege, other examples of privilege in Florida law include:
Most people know the self-incrimination privilege provided by the Fifth Amendment. This amendment states that individuals may not be compelled to testify against themselves in criminal cases. Refusing to do so is often called “pleading the fifth.”
When Does the Attorney-Client Privilege Rule Apply in Florida Divorce Cases?
Once the relationship between an attorney and client has been established, no one can compel the lawyer to disclose confidential information that is related to the client’s representation. Additionally, no one can compel you, the client, to share the confidential information that you have disclosed to the lawyer.
For the attorney-client privilege to apply, there are specific requirements:
– The information disclosed was shared between the lawyer and the client or the potential client, whichever the case may be.
– The reason for the communication was to get legal advice from the attorney.
– At the time of the communication, the client expected the information to remain confidential.
– During the communication, the lawyer was acting in a professional capacity.
Clients should be careful sharing information with their attorney in the presence of a third party. If another party happens to be present during the conversation, the attorney-client privilege will not apply.
Is a Free Consultation Confidential and Privileged?
While there is sometimes a debate over exactly when an attorney-client relationship begins, there is no question that the privilege applies once you sign the retainer and hire an attorney. Most anything you tell the attorney in confidence will remain privileged from that point forward.
However, is the information you shared during a meeting with a Florida divorce lawyer during your free consultation privileged? A judge, in most instances, will likely decide that any information disclosed in the consultation would fall under the rules of attorney-client privilege. As long as the communication was to obtain legal advice from the attorney, the client is protected, even if they have not hired the lawyer.
Waiving the Right to Attorney-Client Privilege
For the most part, privileged information can’t be obtained in a discovery request. Discovery requests typically include interrogatories, depositions, and requests for legal documents. Therefore, an attorney and a client cannot be forced to share privileged information.
There are some instances, however, where an attorney-client privilege can be waived by a client or simply won’t apply.
For example, clients can waive the attorney-client privilege voluntarily, allowing the attorney to disclose certain confidential information with consent. This attorney-client waiver is sometimes necessary for settlement negotiations or in support of legal allegations.
There are also certain situations where privilege doesn’t apply.
Situations where attorney-client privilege isn’t applicable include:
– Cases where the potential client or client shares information while looking for legal advice on committing fraud or some other crime.
– When a client passes away, and their heirs file a lawsuit regarding their estate.
– In joint representation disputes resulting from a situation in which an attorney represented two parties in the same matter.
– Conversations between inmates and attorneys may be monitored by law enforcement if probable cause exists that privilege may be used in the concealment of terrorist acts.
There are also situations where some information is privileged while other information isn’t. For example, the date, location, or time of an attorney-client meeting is not privileged information, even if the two parties’ conversation is.
Should I Reveal Everything to My Orlando Divorce Lawyer?
The attorney-client privilege rules exist so that clients can be comfortable speaking freely to their attorney without fear that they will disclose that information to someone else. It is of the utmost importance that you tell the attorney everything and share any information that you can regarding your divorce.
The protection from attorney-client privilege and the legal concept behind that protection is significant in Florida lawsuits.
Some people will try to avoid disclosing too much information. But, that is the wrong move. If your attorney is unaware of certain issues, your attorney cannot give you full and adequate legal assistance.
Additionally, if they are revealed during the course of the lawsuit (and they usually will be), it could destroy your entire case. In this situation, you should tell your attorney immediately so they can come up with a strategy to handle these sorts of issues from the start.