Independent Legal Advice

Why it's important, and how to obtain it.

What is Independent Legal Advice?

Independent legal advice is when you obtain advice on an agreement from a lawyer separately from anyone else involved in your legal matter. Typically the lawyer will provide a certificate of independent legal advice that is included with the agreement.

Without independent legal advice, Family Law agreements may not be enforceable in court. ILA is taken very seriously by the courts in Alberta so lawyers cannot simply "rubber stamp" agreements - they must carefully assess each agreement with a view to each client's personal circumstances.

What is the Purpose of Independent Legal Advice?

The purpose of independent legal advice is to:

  1. Conduct an objective review of the legal document;
  2. Confirm that the client understands the document properly; and
  3. Verify that the client has not been pressured into signing the document (e.g. through duress or undue influence).

What Happens When I Get Independent Legal Advice?

You and your spouse or partner will have to consult lawyers from separate law firms. One firm will typically draw up the agreement and advise the retaining partner or spouse, but the other party will have to retain a separate lawyer from another law firm to provide ILA.

What Types of Agreements Require ILA?

You must obtain a certificate of ILA for the following documents or they may not be legally binding:

It can be frustrating to have to pay a separate lawyer to provide ILA when you and your spouse or partner have already reached an agrement, but it is an important step in ensuring that your legal rights are protected. The experienced lawyers at FC&Z are happy to help you draw up your agreements or simply provide you with thorough, reliable ILA. Contact us to find out more.

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