Understanding the complexities of family law litigation, including divorce, custody, paternity, child support and other related matters, is often difficult for clients. This week’s blog post begins a multi-part series that explains the basic procedures of a typical family law case. In today’s blog post, we’ll look at attorney/client confidentiality, which is one of the basic issues involving the attorney/client relationship.
WHAT IS MY LAWYER’S DUTY OF CONFIDENTIALITY?
Attorneys have an ethical duty to keep the client’s case information confidential. This means that the attorney cannot share information about the case with any third party. This duty begins at the time of the client’s first contact with the attorney, regardless of whether the client ever actually retains the attorney for representation. This duty of confidentiality never ends, even after the case is completed.
This duty of confidentiality applies regardless of who pays the attorney’s fee. For example, a client’s brother may pay all or part of the attorney’s fee on behalf of the client, but will still not be entitled to any of the client’s confidential information.
ARE THERE EXCEPTIONS TO THE DUTY OF CONFIDENTIALITY?
The attorney may share confidential information with law firm staff members, such as paralegals, secretaries and associate attorneys. These staff members also have a duty of confidentiality and accordingly cannot share confidential client information with any third party.
Of course, the client may consent to the sharing of some or all of the client’s confidential information. For example, a client may request that the attorney share confidential information with other family members so that they can assist the client in making decisions about the case. In such a situation, the attorney will typically request that the client authorize the release of information in writing.
Another important exception to the duty of confidentiality is that if the attorney gains information regarding possible child abuse or neglect, the attorney has a duty to report the abuse or neglect to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, even if the client requests that the lawyer not make a report.
The family law attorneys of Christiansen Law Firm have significant experience over many years in representing clients in family law matters. Contact Christiansen Law Firm in Houston or San Antonio for additional information about attorney/client confidentiality or to schedule a free consultation.