Thursday, September 5, 2013

How you could be waiving attorney client privilege without knowing it

Most people have heard of "attorney-client privilege".  To oversimplify the privilege, any communications you have with your attorney are confidential and are therefore, inadmissible in court.  This means, typically, if you confess to a crime to your attorney, that is confidential information that cannot be revealed.  Attorney client privilege is an important aspect of legal representation and that privilege should be closely guarded by both clients and attorneys.

Attorney client privilege, however, is only a privilege as long as you do not waive that privilege.  You waive that privilege when you share that information with a third party. That means if your mom is in the room when you tell your attorney something, you may be waiving that privilege as to anything you say.  That also means if you've told your mom the same information you told your attorney, that information is no longer covered by attorney client privilege. 

You may be waiving attorney-client privilege without even realizing it.  Do you use gmail as your email provider?  Have you heard the recent news that gmail "scans" all of their emails?  Have you ever read the entire agreement for your email provider (you know that long agreement after which you clicked the little box that said "Yes, I agree to those terms")?  Did you know that many of these free email providers include in those terms that they can hand over any of your emails to anyone they please at anytime?  This is not to say you can never use that email to communicate with your attorney.  You just need to be aware of the fact that  any information you convey in those emails could possibly be used against you; be careful.

On a similar side note, keep all of this in mind if you use social media during the time you have legal representation.  Anything you post on social media (i.e. facebook), can and likely WILL be used against you.  Ask your attorney for advice on whether or not you should be using social media and if so, to what extent, during legal procedings.  

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Annulment v. Divorce

So your marriage isn't working out, how do you know if you should pursue an annulment or a divorce?

The grounds for an annulment are significantly narrower than grounds for a divorce.  To oversimplify things for the purposes of this post, an annulment basically voids the marriage like it never existed.  A divorce simply terminates the marriage.  Most of the time, people who are seeking to get out of a marriage are going to go down the divorce path rather than pursue an annulment.  However, there are situations in which an annulment may be appropriate. 

In oversimplified terms, the grounds for annulment are: if there was no marriage license, if either party was still married to another person, marriage between a brother and sister, marriage between an uncle/niece type relationship, marriage when either party is under 18, lack of consent (because of mental incapacity or infirmity), if either party was a convicted of a felon and the other did not know, if wife was pregnant with another man’s baby and husband did not know or vice versa, if either party had been a prostitute without the other knowing, fraud, duress.  If after obtaining knowledge of any of the above, the parties continue to live together and/or act as a married couple, annulment will likely not be an option. 

Divorce, on the other hand, can be decreed for a multitude of reasons including that the parties simply had irreconcilable differences and separated (though there are minimum separation requirements prior to obtaining a divorce on this ground).  Divorce is typically a longer process and may be more complicated, though not necessarily.

If you are unhappy in your marriage and are looking to terminate it, consult with an attorney to determine the best possible process for you to pursue.