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.
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.
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.
Independent Legal Advice
If you are looking for independent legal advice in Ontario, you have the following two options.
This is important for several reasons.
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.
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 ILA 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.
Read more: Do You Need a Divorce Lawyer?
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