During contested custody litigation, it’s important for clients to remember that all of their actions are taking place under the watchful eye of the Court. Whether it’s that late night bender at the bar, the fight between you and your ex that was reported to the police, or even a single lapse into illegal drug use – you can bet that during the litigation, someone will find out about it.
I recognize that it is next to impossible to be on your best behavior throughout contentious, emotional, and often lengthy litigation. So, what if there was that one night when you drove home after the bar and got pulled over for a DUI? What do you do?
It is understood that parents in contested custody litigation will want to paint themselves in the best light possible in an attempt to try to gain an advantage within the litigation, and let’s face it, no one likes to admit or even proclaim our own faults. However, as a divorce attorney I cannot stress enough the importance of being honest with the one person who is truly on your side during litigation – your attorney.
Your attorney is the only person within the litigation with whom you can be truly and completely yourself. On the positive side, it is important for them to know the best parts of you as a parent. He or she will want to know how involved you are in the day-to-day care of your children. He or she will want to know if you’re the dad who goes to all the soccer games, or who has never missed a parent teacher conference. And as important as it is for your attorney to know all of your virtues as they pertain to the case, it is also highly important that they’re made aware of any of the “bad” that might be brought out about you.
I try to make it a point to ask my clients what kinds of “bad” things might be brought up within the litigation. It’s immensely important for me to know those facts, and to figure out the best way to deal with those facts long before they arise within the litigation. It’s much easier for your attorney to know about your problem issues up front rather than learn about them while you’re being cross-examined at trial by opposing counsel.
Everyone has some skeletons in their closet. Don’t be embarrassed. Likely, it’s nothing your attorney hasn’t heard before. The more your attorney knows about you and your situation – good and bad- the more effective they can be in providing you with the best possible representation within your custody litigation.