Divorcing couples may not agree on much, but most see eye-to-eye on one thing: They want to be divorced. Still, it’s the disagreements about things like alimony, equitable distribution and child custody that can cause the cost of divorcing to quickly snowball.
In light of the costs, DIY divorce can seem like an appealing option. After all, not hiring an attorney means you’ll spend a lot less money, right?
Not exactly. You’ll probably pay less upfront, true. But those who handle their own divorces make frequent – and sometimes major – mistakes. They simply lack a understanding about the legal processes involved. Divorce attorneys can often help facilitate faster, fairer resolution to your disputes. That means lower short-term costs, better long-term savings and no unnecessary delays.
The DIY divorce pitfalls our East Brunswick divorce attorneys have witnessed include:
- Missed deadlines. The New Jersey family court system requires all sorts of paperwork – which must be filed at the proper place and time. Missing a critical filing deadline or appointment can significantly hobble your case. If you want your case moving ahead in a timely manner, you’ll need to supply many different forms and documents and be punctual to required appointments and appearances (even if they are virtual). Your legal team can help you quickly gather all the necessary documents, arrange your scheduling, appear on your behalf so you don’t have to and ensure you meet all important filing deadlines.
- Poor negotiating. Divorce can involve a great deal of negotiation. Even if you and your soon-to-be-ex are on relatively good terms, things can get messy pretty quickly if you’re trying to work it all out on your own – especially if you have kids, share property, were married a long time or have disparate incomes. If there is any chance at all that your negotiations will sour, an attorney will serve as an advocate who can provide an objective, professional perspective while helping you build a strong case.
- Lack of access to professional experts. NewJersey divorce attorneys have access to a professional network of experts who can provide essential evidence on key elements of your case that require specialized knowledge. Professionals can include real property experts, financial experts, tax experts, vocational experts, parenting experts and more. It is possible you might find an expert through an internet search, but it might not always be the best person for your case. Family law attorneys familiar with these cases – and the type of experts involved – can provide essential recommendations. It’s true that expert witnesses will be an added expense, but the risk if you’re on your own is that you either hire one you don’t need or you don’t hire someone when doing so would really strengthen your standing for certain claims.
- Not knowing how the court system works. Navigating the court system can be overwhelming and frustrating if you’ve never done it before and have no one guiding you. Worse, when you’re flying blind, you’re more apt to crash a time or two. Setbacks are inevitably going to cost you. A divorce attorney with experience will be familiar with how to handle the bureaucratic red tape and keep your case moving.
- Failing to take advantage of alternative resolutions. We understand that divorce has the potential to be draining – not only on your emotions, but on your bank account as well. We want to see our clients off on the right foot in this next chapter, and mediation is often the best way to make that happen – and it’s less expensive. Mediation is one way to resolve legal disputes that does not involve hashing it out in court before a judge who ultimately decides. Mediation gives you more control over the outcome of important issues, working with a knowledgeable, neutral third-party. You and your soon-to-be-ex can share the cost of a single mediator who helps both sides clarify their goals, figure out what’s most important to them and helps them work together to reach outcomes that will be favorable for everyone.
It’s necessary to point out too that you really only get one crack at this unless circumstances significantly change. That means if you negotiate a bad deal on alimony or child support, you’re going to have a tough time changing it unless you can establish a material change in circumstances. This can cost you immensely (and you almost always need a lawyer for such situations). It’s better to hire someone to help you get it done right the first time.
If you have additional questions about how a New Jersey divorce lawyer may be able to help you through this process, we are available for free, initial consultations.
Contact us at (732) 810-0034 or email us through our website.