“I need to discuss certain aspects of my case. Can I call my spouse’s lawyer if mine is out of town?”
No. Not only is it wrong for you to contact your spouse’s attorney, but it is unethical for your spouse’s attorney to speak with you. Lawyers are expected to act in accordance with various codes of ethics. These codes control how they treat their clients, the quality of their work, their fees, and what they can tell others about a case. If an attorney violates an ethical standard, he or she can be fined or even lose his or her license to practice law.
Aside from the obvious conflict of interest involved, attorneys must first and foremost protect their clients. The attorney-client privilege prevents your attorney from disclosing anything to anyone other than yourself, thus establishing a certain level of privacy and loyalty between an attorney and his or her client. Your attorney has spent time with you and knows the details of your case. Therefore, he or she is much better suited to respond to your questions.
With that in mind, if your lawyer is out of town and you have an important question that needs an immediate response, ask an impartial lawyer — one that has not been hired by your spouse. If you are unsure and simply cannot wait until your lawyer returns, call his or her office and try asking the law clerk or paralegal for names of lawyers you can contact.
Tina J. Abramovich works at the Law Offices of Wes Cowell, a firm specializing in family law in Chicago.