A client asking this question may be embarrassed to provide the full details of the situation, or wish to deliberately deceive the other party in the divorce with respect to financial or other information.
Generally, it's very important to tell your lawyer the whole truth.
It's critical to have a good working relationship with your family lawyer, which means being comfortable enough to talk about embarrassing issues that we usually don't discuss with others. Your lawyer can't assist you in the best manner possible if he or she doesn't have a complete picture of your situation. Details that might seem unimportant to you may be very important to your case. The more information that your lawyer has, the better that he or she can advise you and work on your behalf -- and the more time and money you could save later on.
You may be tempted to hide facts or assets you believe your spouse is unaware of, but such facts rarely stay hidden when a marriage breaks down. More often than not, spouses have shared all of their financial and other information throughout their marriage, deliberately or inadvertently. If your spouse planned to leave your marriage, he or she might have been compiling your financial information without your knowledge. The information that you hope to conceal always seems to come to light at the worst moment in your case. This could provide your spouse with a critical strategic advantage.
Furthermore, concealing financial information might later provide grounds to invalidate a separation agreement or a Court Order -- even after a significant passage of time. More importantly, the court may punish you if it learns that you intentionally withheld material facts to advance your position in your case.
Joe Sheridan practices family and estate law and general civil litigation with offices in west-end and uptown Toronto.