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We’re Divorcing on Good Terms. Do I Still Need to Hire a NJ Divorce Lawyer?

couple talking at table

Divorce is rarely pleasant, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to depart on amicable terms. In fact, our E divorce lawyers have worked with a number of couples who still held each other in high regard, despite no longer wanting to hold onto the relationship.

There are plenty of benefits to having an attorney - even when the two of you are basically on the same page about everything.

Of course, we should point out that you don’t need an attorney to get a divorce. There is nothing written into the law that mandates it. And if there were ever a situation in which one could get by without one, it’s probably a friendly uncoupling - though ideally involving a younger couple with a short marriage, no shared children, and little property to divide. But even then, a do-it-yourself divorce can have numerous pitfalls.

Keep in mind: For all the romantic notions surrounding it, marriage is a legal contract. Divorce doesn’t need to be nasty, but extricating yourself from that legal contract can have implications for your current and long-term future. When you each have a lawyer, it doesn’t mean you’re in for a fight. In fact, it can allow for a cleaner break because you’re both ensuring your rights and financial interests are protected. There are no surprises, and no one is getting the short end of the stick.

On the bright side: The more aspects you do agree on, the less time and money the divorce will cost you. But investing a bit more in the services of a divorce attorney can ultimately end up saving you a lot of headaches down the line. It’s a lot easier to write specifics into the divorce agreement before it’s finalized; trying to modify it after the fact can take a long time, and typically requires proof of a material change in circumstances. It’s always better to take a little more time to get it right the first time.

Even if you want to take a chance at handling the bulk of it on your own, we recommend consulting with a divorce lawyer at least twice - at the start of the process and before it’s finalized.

Here’s why:

  • Do you truly agree on everything? Maybe so. But it’s possible there are elements you haven’t fully considered - or maybe even debts or assets you didn’t know about. Have you fully hashed out whether one or both of you should take out life insurance policies to cover child support if you die? If you agree on how much child support should be paid, have you decided when it should be paid - and what to do if someone is late? Who is going to cover the cost of all the extracurricular activities for your kids? College? Where are the pets going to live? How will you offset the retirement benefits you’re owed through equitable distribution? A lot of times when spouses sit down with a divorce lawyer or mediator, they realize they actually haven’t fully considered all the particulars that must be sorted when they legally separate their lives. The bottom line is even if you think you agree on everything, there might be a few important loose strings.
  • A lawyer can properly draft the agreement. Reaching an accord is one thing. Making sure it’s accurately drafted in a legally enforceable document is another. Technically, yes, you can do this on your own. You could also technically pull your own tooth, but it’s generally not a good idea. East Brunswick divorce lawyers are educated and experienced in legal writing and analysis, and can help ensure the documents are properly drafted and enforceable.
  • You’ll have the benefit of knowing the paperwork has been properly filed. Although filing paperwork with the clerk of courts may sound simple, the reality is there are a great many motions and filings that get dismissed for failure to follow procedural requirements. You need to have the right paperwork for the situation. It has to be appropriately filled out and adequately supported. It needs to go to the right office, and it must be timely. Furthermore, some documents filed early in the case, such as the Case Information Statement, are heavily relied on in the Family Court’s future decision-making in your case. If something goes sideways and you do end up disagreeing, the contents of your Case Information Statement can play a big role in how the contested issues are resolved. Making modifications to that statement after the fact will attract more scrutiny. Better to have it fully prepared right the first time by having an attorney do it.

Finally, we want to point out there is more than one way to get divorced - and it doesn’t have to be adversarial. Mediation is probably the most popular. It’s more collaborative than litigation and gives both parties more power in the outcome - as opposed to duking it out in court and letting the judge be the final arbiter. In this case, you might split the cost of an attorney to work out the details, and then only need to hire separate lawyers to review the divorce agreement before you sign it. This helps keep costs - and conflict - at a minimum, while still ensuring you’re not overlooking important details.

Call Rozin|Golinder Law, LLC today at (732) 810-0034 for a free and confidential consultation.

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