Sunday, October 30, 2011

Got Skeletons in Your Closet?

During this Halloween season, we often see skeletons as decorations for parties or businesses or for Trick-or-Treaters. We see so many that they usually lose their fright-invoking powers. It's all in fun for a good time.

However, in other contexts, skeletons in a closet can be a real problem.

What are they?
Politicians and public figures worry that bad behavior may be found out any time of the year. It's sometimes said that everyone has some skeleton in their closet -- something that could be embarrassing, illegal or just private, that they wouldn't want other people to know about. Sometimes the skeletons are from current activities or they might be indiscretions from their youth. Hopefully, the skeletons won't be massive or involving major liability in terms of criminal laws or civil damages.

Skeletons in family law contexts
In family law matters, skeletons sometimes come into play. They can be big or small. Quite often, they get built up in someone's mind so that they appear to that person to be huge, when in fact, they are not a big deal at all. On the other hand, some things really are big deals. Arnold had a huge skeleton uncovered when his love child was discovered. Affairs can become not just a skeleton, but an albatross around someone's neck, to mix metaphors. Criminal activities, financial mismanagement and addictions are all serious issues that can have a major impact on divorces and other family law litigation. In most divorces, there's something each side would prefer to keep quiet or, preferably, unknown. But it always seems to get out!

What should you do?
Rule #1: Tell your lawyer. Don't be worried about whether your lawyer won't like you or respect you. Chances are, your attorney has heard and seen much worse. One thing lawyers hate is to be surprised by the other side. Don't let your attorney
first learn about the skeleton by hearing the other side break the news. Prepare your attorney with all the facts. Believe it or not, attorneys can usually put bad news into context and minimize it, if given the chance. If your counsel first hears some bad news as it is being drug out of you, there's not much the lawyer can do for you.

Quick Summary:

Lawyers Don't Like Surprises!

You need to tell your attorney the bad facts as well as the good ones so he/she has a chance to help you. You need to let the skeletons out of the closet.


Robert Mues said...

Dick, great post! As a Dayton, Ohio divorce lawyer, I can't concur more - lawyers don't like surprises!

Keith said...

Your Rule#1 is an extremelly useful advice.