Do I Need an Attorney for a Divorce?
Divorce in New Jersey can be as simple or as complicated as you want it to be.
If you and your spouse can reach an agreement on key issues, then you can divorce without a lawyer’s help.
However, if you cannot agree but instead want to litigate issues, then you should have a lawyer in your corner otherwise you will be at a disadvantage.
Can You Agree on Important Issues?
As part of a divorce, a judge will need to decide the following:
- Who gets the marital property? Marital property is the property you acquired while married. It is not the property you brought into the marriage or property you inherited while married (unless the property was left to both of you).
- Who pays marital debts. Marital debts are debts you are both responsible for.
- Which spouse pays alimony—if either one—and how much and for how long.
If you have children, you will also need to determine who the children stay with and when. You might divide physical custody 50/50 or have the children stay predominately with one parent while the other has regular visitation. You should come up with an agreement you both can agree with.
The parent who does not have primary custody will also probably need to pay child support to the other parent. New Jersey has guidelines for calculating child support, though you can go above this amount if your child has exceptional needs.
If you and your spouse can agree on the above issues, then you can easily get divorced without a lawyer. You can go to court and file a complaint about divorce, and the judge should approve your agreement if it seems fair.
Are You Gearing Up for a Divorce Fight?
Many couples, however, cannot agree on all of the issues listed above. Frequently, the dispute centers on child custody, but it could be any issue. When couples do not agree, they end up in court with a judge deciding the dispute for them.
New Jersey helpfully tries to get couples to avoid a divorce trial by providing the following:
- An Early Settlement Panel, where lawyers will hear the dispute and offer their advice about how the couple should settle.
- An Intensive Settlement Conference, which is usually all-day negotiation where the judge offers non-binding suggestions on how the couple should settle.
These conferences can often bring couples onto the same page so that they can avoid trial. Nevertheless, having a lawyer by your side is also to your advantage. No one wants to be taken advantage of during the divorce process, and only a lawyer can protect your rights. If you find that you and your spouse cannot agree on major issues at the outset of the divorce, then you should consult with an attorney.
Speak with a New Jersey Divorce Lawyer
Divorce is an emotionally charged time for most couples. It is very easy to make the divorce about dashed dreams and lost hopes instead of what is best for your children. The Law Office of Jordan B. Rickards has represented many people seeking divorce and will be an advocate for your best interests. To schedule a free consultation, please call 732-422-5648.