J. Gregory Hatcher | Divorce & Family Law Attorney
Once a client meets with an attorney and pays money for services rendered a confidential relationship is established. As such, any communication between the attorney and the client is privileged. There are very few exceptions to this rule which serves as a protection to allow attorneys and clients to speak freely about the client’s case, options and strategy. Only if the attorney learns that the client plans to commit a crime or if there is a child in danger is this privilege waived.
In a domestic relations court case, parties will often participate in the discovery process to obtain information, such as written questions, depositions and requests to produce documents, from the opposing party in preparation for court.
A party cannot obtain privileged and confidential attorney-client information through discovery. Despite this rule, many times parties send discovery requests or ask questions in deposition which invoke this privilege. The client should be well versed by his or her attorney not to answer these questions. Further, if the attorney is doing his/her job, there will be an objection lodged in such an improper request.
In addition, when someone is testifying in court, he/she should be well prepared not to violate this privilege. If a client makes reference to communications with his or her attorney, the court could rule that that person has “opened the door” to further questions about that communication and has waived the privilege. The results could be devastating.
In some, a client should be mindful of the experience of his /her attorney when preparing for court. If the attorney does not adequately prepare the client for court, many opportunities for success could be lost and the case could be put in jeopardy.
Greg Hatcher is a highly experienced divorce attorney in Charlotte, NC. He has been named to the North Carolina Super Lawyers list since 2010 and also recognized among the state’s “Legal Elite” by Business North Carolina magazine. As a Board Certified Specialist in Family Law, Mr. Hatcher has represented clients in child custody and support, divorce, alimony, domestic violence and other family law related cases for more than 17 years.