In what has proven to be one of the highest-profile murder cases to hit Chicago this year, in mid-September a jury in Joliet found Drew Peterson guilty of murdering his third wife, and sentenced him to 60 years in prison. The conviction in the case rested on the testimony of a divorce attorney, Harry Smith, who was employed by Peterson’s fourth wife, Stacy. According to the Chicago Tribune, Stacy asked Smith if “she could get more money in a divorce if she threatened to tell police about her husband’s role in Savio’s death.” Savio was Peterson’s third wife. According to the Tribune, this was the straw, so to speak, that broke the camel’s back and resulted in Peterson’s conviction.
This, of course, is an extreme story of divorce proceedings going terribly wrong, but it’s no secret that while going through a divorce ugly things from the past can reappear. If the divorce is particularly heated—or if both sides are very insistent, meaning that there’s plenty of dirt on both sides—both sides need to be careful of what is allowed to come out in court.
Even if the couple has shared a lawyer for years, it’s important to employ a fresh set of eyes to the case; an attorney who has no previous understanding of prejudices of the relationship. This is especially important in a high asset divorce, such as the one Peterson should have sought with his third wife. It’s also highly unethical for a lawyer to represent both sides of a divorce case, even if he’s been with the couple for years and knows each one well.
If you or someone you know is facing a divorce, the importance of seeking professional assistance can’t be underestimated. Don’t go through it alone. Contact a dedicated Chicago area divorce attorney today.
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