Going through a divorce is difficult enough on its own. But when one spouse has a criminal record or pending criminal charges, the divorce process can become exponentially more complicated and stressful. As a criminal defendant, having an experienced criminal defense lawyer guiding you through the overlapping legal issues is essential.  The first major step in the divorce process is filing the initial petition and requesting temporary orders. Temporary orders set the rules for things like asset distribution, child custody, and financial support during the divorce process before a final decree is issued. When a criminal lawyer is involved, the initial petition will likely reference the criminal charges or convictions. The allegations against you or your spouse must be disclosed. Your divorce lawyer and criminal lawyer will work together strategically on what details to include. Key questions will include: What are the alleged offenses and what is the status of the criminal case?  For example, your spouse may try to use unproven criminal accusations as leverage to get more than their fair share of assets or time with children. Your lawyers can work to prevent this prejudice pending the outcome of the criminal case.

Discovery and depositions

The respected local lawyer in Brampton is when each spouse’s lawyers demand documentation and information from the other party. Depositions are also conducted, where each spouse is questioned under oath by the other party’s divorce lawyer. When a criminal lawyer is involved, special care needs to be taken to avoid potential self-incrimination during this information exchange. However, you also cannot refuse to provide all information or hide assets. Your criminal defense and divorce lawyers will need to work together to determine exactly what information you are obligated to disclose vs. what could remain privileged and protected under the Fifth Amendment. Things that could incriminate you like communications, photos, location data, or financial transactions related to the alleged crime should remain confidential. However, information pertaining solely to asset valuation and marital facts cannot be withheld using Fifth Amendment privilege.

Settlement negotiations and trial preparation

Before going to trial, spouses will usually participate in settlement negotiations and mediation. Your criminal lawyer will again be a crucial advisor, as the pending criminal charges are likely to impact settlement discussions. For example, any admissions or factual positions you take in the divorce case could affect your criminal defense. Settlement offers made by your spouse may also be designed to take advantage of your vulnerability during the criminal case. Your criminal defense and divorce lawyers will collaborate on an integrated negotiation strategy with your overall best interests in mind. That means considering your financial, parental, and freedom interests across both cases. In some instances, it may be in your best interests to finalize the divorce before the criminal case concludes. This can remove the threat of your spouse trying to use the pending charges as leverage for an uneven divorce outcome. But in other cases, it may be better to delay finalizing the divorce until after the criminal matter is resolved. Your attorney team can advise you on the pros and cons of different timing scenarios based on the intricacies of your specific cases.


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