Independent Legal Advice

A lawyer who is independent (not acting for the other person) must provide advice about the nature and consequences of referring a dispute to family arbitration. For example, if the wife has a lawyer, that lawyer may provide independent legal advice to the wife, but not to the husband.

Independent legal advice for a person considering family arbitration is available from family lawyers. A lawyer who knows about family law can be found through the Lawyer Referral Service of the Law Society of Upper Canada.

The lawyer providing independent legal advice will provide a certificate of independent legal advice to his or her client after giving the advice (before the arbitration begins). A copy of the certificate must be attached to the family arbitration agreement.

Each side normally pays for his or her own lawyer. Legal aid is not usually available for family arbitrations.

According to the Family Law Act, independent legal advice is mandatory for family arbitrations. Any award from an arbitration that was done without both sides receiving independent legal advice will not be enforceable in court.