Even the most amicable divorce can be stressful and overwhelming. Many people wonder if they can bring a close friend or relative to their attorney meeting (or meetings). This can help your comfort level as well as having an extra set of ears to process and take down information.
However, is this really a good idea? We’ll examine the pros, cons and the matter of attorney-client privilege in Maryland.
First, the short answer to the question of can you bring a third person to your divorce attorney meeting is “yes.” However, the follow-up question is, should you? It’s complicated.
The benefits of bringing someone to an attorney meeting
Having a third person with you when you meet with your lawyer can provide several benefits:
- Reduced stress. Family law issues can be psychologically stressful, and it can be comforting to have a trusted friend or family member with you for backup.
- Emotional support. If you’re shy or have trouble opening up, the presence of a close friend may help you become more comfortable talking about the details of your situation.
- Provide information and assistance. Your friend or family member may be able to provide helpful details and information you may have forgotten. They can also help you remember notes from your meetings.
Drawbacks of bringing a third person to your Maryland meeting
There are also cons to allowing a third person sit in on your attorney meetings. These can include:
- Reduced focus. If the person you bring with you is a very close friend or relative, they may have a lot of anger or resentment toward your ex. This could actually cause you more stress and lose concentration on practical matters.
- Different priorities. A third person may offer their opinion during your meeting with your attorney. This could be troublesome if they have differing goals or opinions than you. In cases where the guest is the person paying the client’s legal services, it’s important the guest understands your attorney works for your interests only.
- Lack of confidentiality. This is the most important issue to consider. Likely you’re familiar with the term “attorney-client privilege.” Basically, whatever you tell your lawyer during these meetings is considered private and can’t be publicly released without your consent. However, bringing a third party into these meetings can waive that privilege and put your confidential information at risk.
Attorney-client privilege in Maryland
Attorney-client privilege is one of the strongest privileges we have here in the United States, and you should take care not to destroy it. Bringing a third party into an attorney meeting can be risky. It’s rare that opposing counsel would try to find out or subpoena for information about these meetings, but it can happen.
There are situations where a third party may be necessary and can attend meetings without waiving attorney-client privilege. For example, if the third party is there to “aid the cause,” i.e., legal staff, a medical aide or interpreter, or someone in an advisory role (who may be a friend or relative).
It’s best to speak to your attorney before bringing someone to a meeting to find out what’s in your best interests.
You can count on the Rockville family law attorneys at McCabe Russell, P.A. for experienced and personalized legal guidance. We’ll answer all your questions and help ease your mind. To speak with a lawyer serving Montgomery County clients, please call 443-917-3347 or fill out our contact form. We also maintain offices in Columbia, Bethesda and Fulton.