Independent Legal Advice
Need guidance on your options? Wanting independent legal advice on a separation agreement, prenuptial agreement (marriage contract) or cohabitation agreement? Our advice protects your interests and gives you the opportunity to get legal advice before you sign anything.
Family law agreements affect important rights like parenting, support or property. They are legally binding and lasting, which is why we recommend you not waive independent legal advice. We review legal agreements and check if the facts are true. We explain the law and confirm you understand it. We advise if it is fair and if you should sign.
Our family lawyers represent only you.
You receive a certificate confirming this.
The certificate shows the court you have received independent legal advice.
Before you sign, ask for our advice. Our low fees are affordable and we're open 7 days a week, at times that fit your schedule.
Why Independent Legal Advice Matters
If you've ever hired a mediator, shared a lawyer or purchased a business with a partner, you understand the value of independent legal advice. When you ask for independent legal advice, you're getting a licensed Ontario lawyer's unbiased and objective opinion about how a personal or business transaction affects you.
Many qualified Ontario lawyers offer free legal advice by phone. Requesting a second opinion on a legal matter is not the same as getting independent legal advice about potential conflicts of interest between you, your lawyer or others who share legal services with you.
An independent legal advice certificate confirms for the court, legal tribunals, banks and law firms that you understand the nature, risks, benefits and consequences of decisions you are making. Axess Law lawyers give you a signed certificate of independent legal advice form to verify they explained the law and how conflicts of interest affect your legal interests. They witness your signature as proof you read and understood the independent legal advice we gave you.
When to Get Independent Legal Advice
Getting independent legal advice is not always mandatory, but may be recommended by lawyers, courts or mediators, if it's in your best interests. Axess Law Ontario lawyers offer independent legal advice when:
- your lawyer has a conflict of interest and you want to understand how that might affect their ability to represent you
- you agree to share a lawyer with your spouse or someone else
- you have joint business interests, such as buying investments with your lawyer
- your lawyer makes a mistake or forgets to include something in a document you sign and you ask for advice on your legal rights
- you are given a draft agreement by a family law mediator and want to understand how mediated agreements affect parenting or spousal support rights
- your partner hands you a draft cohabitation, marriage or separation agreement
- your spouse takes out a mortgage on your matrimonial home but you are not on the property title
- you are buying real estate or your bank requires you to get independent legal advice on your mortgage
- or you are worried about being coerced into making decisions.
Not getting independent legal advice can be costly when you separate, divorce or are involved in any kind of family mediation or legal dispute. You are free to make your own decisions, but we recommend asking an Ontario lawyer for an ILA certificate first.
Who Can Give Independent Legal Advice
Notary publics can offer some legal services, such as taking affidavits for court, witnessing legal documents you sign or making certified true copies of documents for legal purposes. Only lawyers licensed by the Law Society of Ontario can offer legal advice on interpreting the law or represent you in court.
Courts, tribunals, banks or law firms often ask for ILA certificates to confirm a lawyer not involved in a legal or financial transaction has explained Canadian or provincial laws to you and you are not being unduly influenced or coerced to participate. Axess Law helps you meet your legal obligations to third parties.
Why You Usually Need Your Own Lawyer
Family members or business partners may suggest signing a joint retainer to save money on legal fees when hiring a lawyer to represent you. Before you sign any agreement, get independent legal advice about how joint legal retainers affect your legal rights. When you hire a lawyer, you want to know your legal advisor has experience and knowledge in areas of the law that involve you. Family law or estate disputes can have lasting consequences and sharing a lawyer with a friend or acquaintance may not give you the objective legal advice needed to protect your financial interests. Axess Law's Greater Toronto Area lawyers give referrals to qualified financial advisors if you need their specialized expertise.
Your Responsibilities in Legal Agreements
Ontario courts have ruled that not seeking independent legal advice is no reason to overturn a legally signed agreement. You are expected to safeguard your own interests by taking steps to understand what you are signing before you commit to legally binding contracts such as mediation agreements. Even if you felt coerced at the time, that may not be enough to convince a court. Before you waive legal rights you may regret later, ask Axess Law for an ILA certificate.
Finding a Lawyer
When you contact a lawyer's office, you may be asked to provide a brief description of your legal issue. You may even have been refused a lawyer's services. Lawyers have a professional obligation to avoid conflicts of interest. If a lawyer represents another party to your dispute, they must ask you to find another lawyer and may even refer you to other legal services that can represent you independently. Axess Law lawyers advise you up front if they are unable to provide legal counsel due to conflicts of interest or other reasons. We can refer you to licensed lawyers in the Greater Toronto Area or services for locating lawyers near you.
Documents We Need
Bring a copy of the legal agreement, draft mediation documents, letters, emails or communications you think are relevant when you meet your Axess Law lawyer. We require government-issued ID to verify your identity and can accept emails or certified true copies of important documents.
Flat Fee Rates You Can Afford
Independent legal advice costs are well worth the investment you make. At Axess Law Ontario, you can get an ILA certificate for only $349.99. We have licensed Ontario lawyers near you and can video conference online with you day or evening, 7 days a week. Our virtual video calling software protects your privacy while allowing you to talk to a lawyer anywhere in Ontario, all from the convenience of your home or office. If you can't afford our low-cost fees for family law services, we can at least give brief legal information or direct you to Ontario legal aid.