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Legal Advice: Why You Shouldn’t Skip It

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No matter which path you take, ILA (Independent Legal Advice) is always encouraged. It protects you and your agreement.

Even though in mediation you may receive legal information, a mediator cannot provide legal advice or advocate for either one, even if they're lawyers. They can help you get to a separation agreement, but they cannot provide advice on that agreement. 

Once you have a separation agreement or before, you can spend a couple of hours with a family lawyer to make sure you understand your rights and obligations.

Once you have a draft separation agreement, you can take that agreement to a family lawyer for ILA. This is not the same thing as hiring a lawyer for a “legal battle”. So, it is important that you choose the right lawyer who’s aligned with your goals to keep things as smooth as possible, cost-effective and timely. 

Legal advice is not meant to start a battle between you and your ex. It’s meant to streamline the negotiations and help you move forward, informed.

Good independent legal advice is meant to: 

  • provide you with information; 
  • explain any legal consequences; 
  • review financial documents; 
  • support you in mediation or negotiation;
  • suggest changes or edits if needed; and/or
  • ensure you understand the terms of your agreement.

It is not meant to: 

  • disrupt or obfuscate the agreement you and your former spouse came to; 
  • increase conflict or add unnecessary cost; 
  • hijack the mediation process; or/and
  • force you into a deal you don’t want to be in.

You're in control. You can choose to follow or not the advice you’re getting.

Keep in mind that independent legal advice is just one piece of your separation puzzle. So, depending on your family’s needs and sense of fairness, you two can choose to follow or not the legal advice you’re getting. Regardless, it will strengthen your separation agreement and assist you in making informed decisions.

Bottom line, while not mandatory, getting ILA protects both spouses, and it strengthens the agreement. Essentially, it lessens the risk for someone coming back saying they didn’t understand what they were signing.  

Blog posts and podcasts are for informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice.

About the Author

Laura Tarcea

Laura is a family mediator dedicated to supporting families through divorce or separation. With a background in Mental Health, Research, Program Development, and a Master of Laws in Dispute Resolution, Laura brings valuable insight and critical knowledge to parents. She strongly believes that a healthy co-parenting relationship will protect children from short-term and long-term damage. As such, Laura is a supporter of out-of-court processes to help equip parents with appropriate tools to succeed in their next chapter.

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