Q: In family law, are letters between the two parties attorneys admissible in future court proceedings?
My ex wife and I modified our dissolution agreement in 2016. Prior to signing the modification our attorneys sent official letters back and forth, one of which has my ex wife's attorney agreeing to the rotating of the minor children for tax purposes once the oldest turned 18. Once we agreed to this via these letters we went ahead and signed the modification. Now my ex is taking me to court for contempt stating I was not entitled to claim the younger child even though the eldest is 18. Unfortunately the attorney I previously had retired so I have a new attorney who says these letters between her and my attorney, in which my ex and her attorney explicitly agreed to the rotating of the minor children, are inadmissible in court. Is this accurate? Also, is it not an ethical issue for her attorney, knowing I simply followed what we agreed to, to continue representing her under false accusations of contempt? Thank you!
A: It is best that you speak with your lawyer with these questions. Your lawyer will have the specifics and details of the communications, and the timing of the communications in relation to any judgments. Your lawyer is in the best position to advise you. Please share your concerns with your lawyer. Generally speaking if the modification was reduced to a court order, then the court order would govern. Generally correspondence discussing settlements is confidential and not available for the courts review. However, once again, this should be discussed more fully with your attorney. There is a strong emphasis on parties trying to settle their cases without the need of judges to resolve all issues. As part of this emphasis, the courts typically will not look at settlement negotiations.
Wishing you all the best.
David A. Carroll
Pensacola Divorce Lawyer
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