Someone told me I need Independent Legal Advice: What is ILA?

By Amanda Marsden, Senior Family Lawyer, Calgary

One of the most important pieces of a separation is ensuring you understand your rights under the law and then determining how you want those rights to apply to your specific circumstances. In order to make sure parties to an agreement have the necessary understanding, the legal system requires that each party obtain Independent Legal Advice (ILA). One of the essential parts of a family law contract is the certificate of Independent Legal Advice. This certificate is signed by your lawyer and confirms that they met with you (separate from your partner), explained your legal rights and liabilities, and that you fully understand the agreement and signed without duress.
ILA is important for Separation Agreements, Cohabitation Agreements and Prenuptial Agreements. Without this legal advice, these agreements may not be binding in court. Without ILA the court would not be able to ensure that all the parties to the contract understood what they were signing and signed it of their own accord. The requirement for ILA is one of the reasons why you may have heard that you and your ex cannot use the same lawyer or even two different lawyers from the same firm. Each of you will need to have your own lawyer who meets with you alone and provides legal advice separate from your partner. This is necessary even in cases when both parties are amicable and are in complete agreement with the terms of the contract they want to enter into. 

ILA allows both parties, without the other party being present, to have the law explained to them and then explain how their specific agreement may differ from a strict application of the law. The process of ILA also allows a lawyer to review the agreement and give advice as to whether the agreement was properly drafted, whether there may be essential terms which are missing, or language which could be improved to better reflect the intention of the parties. Finally, ILA also ensures that the client is not being inappropriately pressured into signing the agreement.
The requirement for ILA ensures that both parties are fully protected and are signing an agreement that accomplishes what they want it to accomplish. The lawyers at Crossroads Law are able to provide Independent Legal Advice on all types of family law contracts, even if those contracts were drafted by a different firm. We will ensure that you understand your rights, that your agreement properly protects you and that you get thorough and reliable Independent Legal Advice. Give us a call today for your free 20-minute consultation

The information contained in this blog is not legal advice and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject. The information provided in this blog is for informational purposes only.