The last few years have seen a handful of some of the most expensive divorce settlements in U.S. history, such as tech moguls Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates. But divorce isn’t cheap for the average Joe or Jane either. In fact, divorce typically costs about $15,000. Certain factors can quickly drive costs up even higher.
If you’re considering a New Jersey divorce, we have insight into the priciest aspects - and strategies for keeping those expenses in check. If you are unsure whether you can afford a divorce, our Somerset divorce lawyers are available to help answer your questions.
New Jersey Divorce Litigation
There is no such thing as a free divorce. However, there are ways you can reduce your financial outlay during the process. The first step is understanding the biggest money drains. For most, it’s litigation.
Litigation is when you contest and resolve your disputes through the Courts. If you and your soon-to-be-ex aren’t able to agree on certain settlement terms, they will be litigated in Court. The more aspects on which you disagree, the longer the dispute drags on, the more expensive your divorce is going to be.
As noted in NJ Rev. Stat. 9:17-54, parents in child custody or parenting time disputes can be compelled to pay reasonable fees for attorneys, experts, guardian ad litems, blood or genetic testing, and other costs of action and pre-trial proceedings.
For example, Courts overseeing parenting time disputes may appoint a guardian ad litem pursuant to rule 5.8B. This is a person who will advocate for the best interests of the child(ren) involved. They’re paid by the hour, and it’s the parents who pay.
In cases where asset valuation or distribution are disputed, it may be necessary to hire expert witnesses, such as a tax specialist or someone to conduct a forensic accounting on a small business owned. That too is paid by the parties involved.
Attorney fees can also get hefty when a case requires extensive litigation. Divorce lawyers charge hourly, and it takes time to prepare for Court appearances.
None of this is to say these advocates and professionals aren’t worth it or that you should staunchly avoid litigation. In fact, sometimes it’s the most financially prudent course. What it does mean is that you should know all your options. Educate on alternative dispute resolutions, such as collaborative divorce and mediation, which are typically less expensive, and try to work out as many issues prior to heading to Court as possible.
That said, it’s critical in any New Jersey divorce case to fully understand what it is you’re agreeing to. Failure to do so can be a significant blow to your finances once your divorce is finalized - and changing anything at that point can prove an uphill battle. A good East Brunswick divorce attorney will help make sure your spouse isn’t hiding assets and that you’ve considered factors like asset depreciation and how inflation is going to impact your long-term financials.
Keeping Divorce Costs Reasonable
One of the best ways to keep divorce costs reasonable is to try resolving as many disputes as possible through mediation. This is a form of alternative dispute resolution wherein a single, neutral third party works with both spouses to help them reach agreeable terms of settlement. Mediation can be far less expensive than litigation - with the added benefit of resolving your claims faster and giving you a greater degree of control over the outcome. Working together on solutions that are agreeable to you both may help to preserve an amiable rapport between the two of you moving ahead - something vitally important for co-parents especially.
If possible, it’s best not to drag it out. Many divorce lawyers concur that the longer dispute resolution goes on, the more it’s going to cost. The more hours your attorney has to work on a case, the more it’s going to cost you. This is where prenuptial agreements can really be invaluable, as many of the potential areas of conflict have already been resolved by contract.
If you are considering filing for divorce in New Jersey but need some insight on common strategies to afford it, our East Brunswick divorce lawyers can help.
Call Rozin Golinder Law, LLC today at (732) 810-0034 for a free and confidential consultation.