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The following is a transcript of the above-video, discussing the cost of a divorce in New Jersey.

Hi everybody. My name is Jordan Rickards. I’m a divorce attorney here in central New Jersey. I just want to do a quick video answering a very common question, which is “how much does a divorce generally cost?” And don’t worry, this isn’t going to be one of those videos where you have to wait until the end to find out. I’m going to tell you right now.

The basic variable in divorce, generally speaking, is whether or not you’re dealing with children. So if you’re doing a divorce, where there are no children — and we’re talking about a real divorce, not one of these things where people were married for a year or two years or something like that, but a real divorce — if it doesn’t involve children, you can probably expect to pay something like $10,000. That’s a divorce where you’re going to be dividing up marital assets, such as a house, retirement, things like that, maybe even debts, and a spousal support application. That sort of thing you can probably expect to spend about $10,000 for that kind of divorce, give or take.

I have found that my divorces are a little bit more expensive than that; maybe closer to $11,000 or $12,000. Sometimes a little bit less. I don’t charge quite as much as some other attorneys; I charge about $385 to $400 an hour. There are people, believe it or not, who charge $500 per hour and some who charge less than me, but I would say I’m toward the higher end of the industry standard.

If you have children, I would expect the cost of the divorce to increase by about 50%, if you can’t agree on child support and child custody and visitation. Fortunately, most divorces, believe it or not, don’t hinge on that. The parents I’ve found these days are usually pretty good at coming to an agreement with each other. And that’s best it’s best, not just because you’re going to spend less money on the divorce itself, but also because keep in mind, you can divorce your marriage, but you can’t divorce your kids and you can’t really remove the other person from the parental roles. So you’re going to be dealing with that person in a fractured family unit to be sure, but still something of a family unit going forward, and you want to have as good a relationship as possible. So if you can agree on custody and parenting time, then the child support amount is just formulaic, and it’s not very hard to do. The problem is when people really can’t agree on that, then you can expect at least a 50% increase in the overall cost of the divorce.

Now, the numbers I’m giving you are assuming that nobody’s doing a trial, and good news about 98% of divorce cases do not result in a trial. There are all sorts of ways to avoid a trial and the case can settle ahead of time. I did another video on divorce that’s also on this page it’s called “A General Overview of Divorce in New Jersey.” You can go watch that and it’ll explain to you the different sort of settlement processes that take place: things like early settlement panel and economic mediation, and even just sort of informal talks between the parties and the attorneys. So 98% of the time they do settle.

The problem is when they don’t, they get extremely expensive. A typical trial retainer by itself, just to do the trial, is usually around $20,000, and often attorneys regret only taking that much because really a trial is just a bottomless pit. You could go to court and you sit there all day long and the judge doesn’t even get to your case, or maybe you do an hour’s worth of testimony. Then you got to come back in two more weeks, and it’s the same thing. And then you come back a few weeks after that. And each time you’re paying your attorney for a full day to sit in court. And for every hour of actual trial, they’re probably spending about two hours outside of the courtroom, preparing for the trial. So trials are a mess and they are expensive. And if you can avoid them, you really should.

Now you might be wondering what the deal is with these people advertising $300 divorces. Well, you should have figured out by now, that’s not a real divorce. Those are paralegals. First of all, those are cases where the other side has gone missing or the parties just have nothing to divide up and they both agree that they just want to split. And it just looking for someone to fill the paperwork out. That’s what those things are. And even those aren’t often done correctly. When people come to me asking me to do one of those, I still charge like $1500 to $2,000 just because it does still involve work.

There are attorneys who will take a full divorce for like $2,500 or $3,000. And my advice to you is if you see one of those people, just run because you might as well just take your money and throw it in a fireplace. An attorney who’s charging that has to make their money by having a huge volume of clients, which means they’re just not able to spend the amount of time that each case really requires. Having done enough of these, I have a sense of really how much work has to go into each case. And it’s not a small amount of work. Typically I’m thinking somewhere in the neighborhood of 30 to 40 hours without a trial. That’s how we get that sort of $10,000, $11,000, $12,000 number, if not a little bit more. The attorney who’s just charging $2,500 isn’t charging enough to do all the work that’s really necessary. There’s a saying that you get what you pay for. And I don’t mean to dump on anybody, but hiring someone like that is not something I would recommend. And if you do then, caveat emptor, buyer beware.

The truth is if you want it done right, it does require a great deal of diligence, and a support staff, and it is going to require some money. But here’s the thing: it’s better to spend $10,000, $11,000, $12,000, now, maybe $15,000 now, and get it done right, rather than it costing you $50,000, $100,000, $200,000 later because you did it wrong.

And when you’re talking about a divorce with real assets, keep in mind, you’re talking about oftentimes hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars worth of assets and debts, by the way, over the course of a marriage that are accrued. So it’s not a small amount of money. And once it’s done, it’s very hard to undo it. So it’s better to spend a little bit of money now and get it done right, than lose money because it’s done wrong and then have to try to undo it, which is very, very difficult.

That’s basically it. So the summary is this: If you’re talking about a real divorce where you’re probably talking about spousal support, dividing up a house, dividing up retirement assets, things like that, expect to spend somewhere between $10,000, maybe a little bit more sometimes up to $15,000. If you’re dealing with a difficult adversary, maybe a little bit more than that. That’s basically the ballpark. If kids are involved and it involves custody, add 50% to that. And if it involves a trial, you can easily double the costs, if not much more.

I hope this has been very helpful to you. If you have any other questions and you’re in the central New Jersey area, feel free to give me a call at my office. My contact information is below and I’ll be happy to speak with you. Take care and good luck.

If you need a divorce attorney in New Jersey, call our office at 732-201-5382.

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