Whether you’re considering a Marriage Contract (commonly known as a “Pre-Nup”) or are in the process of solidifying a Separation Agreement, you’ve likely come across the term “Independent Legal Advice”, or “ILA”. This is the process of meeting with a qualified family lawyer who will review your Agreement and advise you of your rights and obligations so that you fully understand what you are signing. While it is not required by law that you obtain ILA before signing a contract, failing to do so can have catastrophic consequences.
ILA may be the last thing on your mind when you’re separating. Maybe you’re satisfied with the Agreement that you and your spouse have reached. Maybe you’re tired of fighting. Maybe you simply don’t want to spend the money on a lawyer. How important is obtaining Independent Legal Advice? Consider this cautionary tale:
Director Steven Spielberg married actress Amy Irving in 1985. In a move to protect his considerable net worth, Spielberg and Irving signed a pre-nup. Four years of marriage and one child later, the two divorced. It was then discovered that Irving had not obtained ILA, and the pre-nup was declared null and void. Skipping that one little step proved to be a BIG mistake, and Spielberg paid the price… to the tune of $100 million.
This is an extreme example of the importance and value of obtaining ILA. Whether your net worth is $100 or $100 million, failing to properly execute your Agreement can result in total financial devastation. You can save a lot of money by drafting your own Agreement, but if you and your spouse do not each individually obtain ILA from a qualified family lawyer, you run the risk of having your Agreement set aside by a court. If this happens, you may be left to divide up your assets as if an Agreement never existed, which means you might end up giving your spouse half of everything (or more).
Mr. Spielberg clearly didn’t have a good lawyer to make sure his assets were protected. You can learn from his costly mistake. Save time and money in the long run by obtaining ILA from a qualified family lawyer today.