Most people hear about independent legal advice (ILA) for the first time from their lawyer. The family lawyer might have been hired to create a separation agreement. The lawyer completes the draft and sends it to the client for feedback. Once the draft is what the client wanted the lawyer will send it to the spouse. The other spouse will be told to get legal advice from a separate lawyer.
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Both parties need to meet with a different lawyer before the separation agreement is signed. The lawyer that gives ILA will suggest any amendments required prior to the agreement being signed. Most lawyers charge hourly for ILA, and the cost depends on how many hours it takes.
Read more: Do You Need a Divorce Lawyer?
By doing ILA, it makes the agreement much stronger, and it makes litigation much less likely in the future. By getting ILA now, you are likely saving a lot of money on legal fees in the future. You decided to get an agreement done, so make sure it is done properly.
Give The Lawyer Everything They Need
Most lawyers will not “sign off” on the agreement unless they think the agreement is fair for their client. Most clients don’t understand their legal rights, and the lawyer should explain the client’s rights.
ILA is often a big risk for lawyers to take, so many lawyers won’t do it. The most common reasons for someone getting ILA is marriage agreements, separation agreements, and real estate deals. Sometimes the deal doesn’t work out for the client, and the client blames the lawyer. Sometimes the client thinks the lawyer was representing them in the case, and not just offering independent legal advice. It is very important to have honest and open communication between the lawyer and the client.
Tell your lawyer everything they need to know about the situation. They cannot give you advice if they do not understand the situation.
Independent Legal Advice
If you are looking for independent legal advice, you have the following two options.
- Call us toll-free at 844-466-6529
- Reach out to us on live chat (bottom right of screen)
Lawyer Represented Both Parties
If the spouse that didn’t hire the lawyer signs the separation agreement, they might later claim that they thought the lawyer was representing them. Lawyers must represent their client’s best interests, and during a divorce, it is highly likely that there are parts of the two spouses “best interests” that are opposite. ILA is a good idea for other areas of law as well (like business law.)
Some lawyers when creating a marriage agreement will require that the other spouse gets ILA. This is to reduce their liability from being sued for “representing both parties interests.”
Domestic Agreements Are Important
Some people want to get their divorce over as quickly as possible. We certainly support this, but it is important that our clients understand that a separation agreement affects their rights and responsibilities. The agreement can have a major impact on the rest of their lives.
The agreement will affect:
- How often you get to see your child(ren)
- The amount of property and assets you receive
- How much child and spousal support you pay or receive
These agreements can have many pages and will likely include complicated legal jargon. The long paragraphs are created to make sure there is no uncertainty about what was meant. This makes it easier for a family judge to understand in the future if needed.
Some people use templates found on the internet. The problem with these templates is that they might use the wrong area of law or might not include everything that is needed.
You will want to receive independent legal advice if:
- The other spouse created the domestic agreement
- A mediator wrote the agreement
- You used a template online
Using the same lawyer puts the lawyer in what is called “conflict of interest.” It is important that the lawyer gives proper legal advice to their client. It is also the lawyer’s responsibility to keep notes of what advice they gave. A good practice is for the family lawyer to create a checklist.
Situations Where Lawyers Should Recommend ILA:
- Where the lawyer thinks there may be a conflict of interest
- The lawyer is representing multiple people under a joint retainer agreement
- If the lawyer and the client are working out a unique deal
- The lawyer made a mistake
- If the lawyer is working as a mediator (the lawyer becomes a third party)
Do You Need A ILA Certificate?
When you get ILA during a mediation or before signing a domestic agreement, you might want to ask your lawyer for an ILA certificate. Not all lawyers provide this as part of the agreement. The other spouse’s lawyer might want to see proof that you receive independent legal advice. A judge might also want to see that you received ILA.
You can prove you received it by including the name of your lawyer, and the other spouse’s lawyer in the agreement. You can include details of where and when you met your lawyer. It is also possible to ask the lawyer for a certificate of ILA. Lawyers may charge extra for this, so it’s up to you if you feel the need to get it. Normally a certificate is not provided by default.
As you can see, ILA sounds very simple, but it’s not. It is a critical part of getting a domestic agreement done. If you go through a mediation and agree on terms, it’s important to make sure the agreement you sign is binding. The last thing you want is to reopen matters years in the future.
If you want to meet with a lawyer for ILA, call our law firm toll free at 1-844-466-6529
*Please note there is a difference between ILA and independent legal representation (ILR).
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