The answer is yes you can bring a relative or friend with you when you go to meet with your divorce lawyer, but there are a couple of cautionary matters. Our firm encourages clients to bring supportive friends or family to interviews, particularly the initial interview. When people visit their divorce lawyer for the first time, they are usually distraught, fearful and disoriented. It is usually difficult to think and understand. The initial interview is a critical interview, because the lawyer obtains necessary facts and provides law and strategic options. The course of your case may be set at the initial interview. Having a supporter there helps the client relax a little and provides back-up for providing accurate information and remembering important advice from the lawyer. Our firm also records the initial interview, so you might want to either ask your lawyer to record the interview or bring your own recorder. This will allow you to review the law and options provided by the lawyer.
There are two basic cautionary matters. First, there is a privilege between a lawyer and a client. Neither the lawyer nor the client can ever be compelled to testify about advice or communications between the lawyer and client. This privilege is breached when a third party is brought into the conversation. If the third party were ever deposed or placed on the stand, they could be compelled to testify as to what was said and the privilege of the communications would be lost. As a practical matter, I have never seen this happen, but since it is a possibility, it must be considered. A second cautionary matter is that there may be discussions about matters the client would not like to have the third party hear. Be very sure before you bring a third party in to discussions with your lawyer that you are comfortable with them hearing about your finances, your sex life, your children and your married life. One way to address both issues is to excuse the third party from the interview when a sensitive matter is being discussed. This will prevent both a breach of the privilege and the revealing of a private matter.
Mark Chinn is a divorce lawyer and the founder of the family-law firm Chinn & Associates in Jackson County, Mississippi. This answer has been excerpted from The Constructive Divorce Guidebook (ABA Books, 2007).