Legal Information Versus Legal Advice: What’s the Difference in a Divorce?

As you consider your divorce, you have likely done some research and seen many terms you are not familiar with, including “legal information” and “legal advice.” These two terms in particular are often misused, and the important differences between the two can be lost. 

What Is Legal Information?

In a nutshell, legal information broadly covers the legal system and the law. It does not offer any suggestions about which course of action would be best for a specific case or a person’s goals. The objective of legal information is to get across, in a general way, how a facet of the law is meant to work. 

Legal information is found just about everywhere online these days, and there are several other places where you may encounter it. Legal information includes the general areas below.

  • Information you found online
  • Suggestions from family members, friends and former clients of an attorney
  • Information on the news, TV or in social media and podcasts
  • Information you found on blogs, newsletters, seminars, webinars and replies on online forums or groups
  • Printed documents that are labeled “for information only”
  • Legal forms for self-help

What Is Legal Advice?

Any advice you receive from well-meaning friends, family members and acquaintances is not legal advice. Accurate legal advice creates an agreement between a client and a divorce law in Santa Fe attorney and is based on the specific matter the client is going through. 

Legal advice has specific characteristics that distinguish it from legal information, including the ones listed below. 

  • It requires legal assessment, training, education, skill and knowledge
  • It involves the application of specific laws to the specific parts of an individual case
  • It affects the legal responsibilities or rights of someone
  • It creates an obligation for whoever is giving the adivce

In short, legal advice will suggest to a client a specific course of action they should take, while legal information is telling someone how to do things in a broader sense. Legal advice includes the drafting of documents that affect the client’s rights, representing a client in court, and presuming a case outcome. 

Can You Rely on Legal Information?

When it comes to legal advice and legal information, one common mistake people make is assuming they can rely on both equally. Legal information is simply information and not advice. Therefore, you cannot wholly rely on it for your case. Laws change, legal information may be out of date, and legal information may have nuances that may or may not apply in your specific circumstances. It is also subjective and often just one person’s understanding of the law, which may be flawed. In addition, since legal information is meant for the general public, it will not take the specific and unique circumstances of your case into account.

Legal advice, on the other hand, is being given by a professional with the knowledge and training needed to understand the law and how it may apply in your case. This person is also aware of the unique factors in your case, so the advice is tailored to your needs and not just general in nature.

While it may be tempting to rely on legal information for your divorce to save on legal expenses, this is a move that can cost you down the line. If you are thinking about or already in the middle of a divorce, you can reach out to an attorney for legal advice that is credible and meant for your particular situation. Your attorney will act as your guide throughout your case so your rights and interests are protected as much as possible.