When it comes to hiring a New Jersey divorce lawyer, lots of people are concerned about the cost. It helps if you better understand going into it what you can expect from a family lawyer in terms of legal fees, costs and retainer agreements.
We understand that with the prospect of divorce, many of our clients are facing financial strain as much as emotional strain. It’s our goal to help protect your financial future by ensuring all elements of your divorce are handled carefully - and that you aren’t paying unnecessary costs in the long-run.
Of course, you are not required by any law to hire a New Jersey divorce lawyer to help with your divorce or any family law issue. But there are many reasons why you should.
Issues pertaining to matrimonial law are often gray areas with no bright line rules. Much can be left to the discretion of a judge - and this is your life, your kids’ lives. It’s not something you want to leave to chance. Working with an attorney who is knowledgeable and highly experienced in this niche area of law is usually to your significant advantage. We can help turn what is often a complex, frustrating process into a smoother transition that leaves you in a better position for the next chapter.
Retainer Agreements, Explained
A retainer agreement is a contract between you and the lawyer/law firm in which your rights and responsibilities to each other are outlined in black-and-white. You want to carefully read and make sure you understand these agreements before signing because they are binding legal contracts.
If you sign a retainer agreement, you will be asked to remit a retainer fee, which is an amount of money the lawyer requires as an advance payment for the work to be done. Once you sign the agreement and pay the retainer fee, the law firm will begin work on your case. If we complete your case and you still have money left over, it will be remitted back to you. If those funds run out and we’re still working on your case, you’ll need to replenish that amount for the lawyer to continue their representation.
Note that some family law firms require smaller retainer amounts, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll cost less overall. The retainer amount doesn’t dictate how many hours will be needed to resolve your case. It’s important to understand this when you’re deciding which law firm you’ll hire to handle your case.
Other Costs and Fees
There will likely be other costs and fees, aside from what you pay your attorney. For example, there is a $300 filing fee in New Jersey family law Court cases. Responsive pleadings are another $175 and motions are $50. Those are not the most significant costs, nor what concerns most people.
What could get more expensive would be expert witness costs. There are several kinds of issues in a New Jersey divorce case that could make an expert witness necessary. One is an asset valuation, conducted by a financial expert. Most often this is necessary when one party owns a business. An expert witness might also be required in a dispute over child custody. The legal standard for deciding custody and support is what’s in the child’s best interests. Credible testimony from an outside mental health professional, doctor or care provider can help the judge make a more informed decision. (This may be particularly relevant in cases involving children with special needs or where it’s alleged a parent is somehow unfit.)
The cost of an expert witness will depend on their specialty and the complexity of the matters they are asked to evaluate and testify about.
Can I Ask the Court to Compel My Spouse to Pay My Legal Fees in a Divorce?
New Jersey law allows both parties to use marital funds to pay for a divorce.
You can also ask the Court to have your ex pay attorney fees. The likelihood of that is going to depend on who has more income and assets. In general, though, Courts want to see spouses equally represented so that outcomes are as fair as possible.
If you have questions or concerns about costs and fees relating to your divorce, our Monmouth County divorce lawyers can help provide the answers you need to make informed decisions.
Contact our Monmouth County Divorce Attorneys today at (732) 810-0034 to schedule an appointment.