Many people look for a “cheap divorce in New Jersey” or “cheap NJ divorce lawyers” when going through a separation in New Jersey. Most times people want divorces that are quick, affordable, and gets the client a “good deal.”
The problem is that it is very difficult to guarantee a cheap divorce in New Jersey. While there are many attorneys who offer reasonable hourly rates, most attorneys cannot guarantee a price for a divorce. This is because a NJ family law attorney usually cannot predict how long the divorce will take with certainty. Whether a divorce will be cheap in New Jersey depends on many variables, like the size of the marital estate, how amicable the parties are, and how aggressive the attorneys are.
While each case is unique, here’s some advice on how to get a cheap divorce in New Jersey. DISCLAIMER: Just because an option is less expensive does not mean it is right. You should consult with New Jersey family law attorneys who offer free consultations to get specific advice for your case.
1. Choose NJ Divorce Mediation Over Litigation
One way to get a cheap divorce in New Jersey is to choose mediation. Mediation is an “alternative dispute resolution.” This means that it is an alternative to going through litigation. Generally, divorce mediation will be a lot less expensive than divorce litigation. During mediation, the two parties meet with one mediator. The mediator acts as a neutral third party, and helps facilitate an agreement between the parties.
If parties can mediate an entire divorce agreement, they will save a lot of money on attorney fees. When you go through litigation, both parties will usually hire an attorney. During mediation, there is usually just one divorce mediator. Therefore, if you go to a mediator for all of your negotiations, you’re cutting the amount of professionals involved. Still, though, after mediation you will want to have your agreement reviewed by an attorney. The cost of the review is much less expensive than if you had an attorney negotiating for you from the beginning.
Also, the divorce mediation process is much less time consuming. Since mediators and attorneys generally charge by the hour, the quicker you come to an agreement, the less expensive it will be. During a litigated divorce, there are many events that will require your lawyer to do additional work. For example, there is a Case Management Conference in every case, Economic Settlement Panel, and more. Further, attorneys will often file motions during the divorce process. Filing one motion with the court can cost thousands – even tens of thousands – of dollars on attorney fees FOR EACH PARTY.
During mediation, a mediator will not give you legal advice. The mediator will, however, help you find an agreement that you think is fair and reasonable. So you will not be filing motions or attending conference with the assistance of an attorney. Though mediation is not for everyone , if you feel comfortable negotiating an agreement between you and your spouse, you can come to an agreement without letting attorneys or New Jersey family law judges dictate your divorce.
2. Try to Limit Your Contact With Your Attorney (if possible)
New Jersey divorce lawyers usually work by the hour. They begin charging you the second they pick up the phone or open your email. Hopefully, your attorney is reasonable in what he or she is charging you, but those emails you send can be very expensive!
Here’s what those emails and phone calls might be costing you. Most lawyers bill in increments of 0.1 hours, or, 6 minutes. This means that even if one task only takes 2 minutes, you’re being billed for 6 minutes of work. If your attorney is paid at the rate of $400.00 per hour (which is how much many Monmouth county divorce lawyers charge), then you are paying him or her $40.00 for every 0.1, or 6 minutes, of work. If the work only takes 1 minute, you’re still being charged $40.00! So that quick question you shot to your lawyer via email? $40.00. Had a two minute discussion on the phone? $40.00.
Some lawyers extend the courtesy (myself included) of not charging for every single email and phone call. Especially very quick, simple phone calls or emails. But many do. In order to keep get a cheap divorce in New Jersey, make sure that you only contact your attorney when you have an important question or email. Another benefit is that lawyers like clients who do not abuse their service! Be a good client, and maybe your lawyer will be more willing to work on his or her fees with you.
3. Avoid Hiring Overly-Aggressive Attorneys (usually)
During divorce litigation, it is unfortunate when two parties view the process as a win or loss proposition. No one really “wins” or “loses” a divorce case. In reality, most people come to my office saying they just want what’s fair for both parties. And, fortunately, there’s usually a pretty obvious solution to all of their divorce problems. It’s few and far between to find those people who really want to “stick it” to their ex-spouse.
Unfortunately, some NJ family law attorneys add fuel to the fire by being overly aggressive in their style of representation. You end up with a scenario where perhaps it’s not the client who wants to “win,” but it’s the lawyer. When attorneys let their ego come into play, they may convince their clients to take an unreasonable position. Then you’re dealing not only with spouses who are emotionally volatile, but an attorney who is too. This can delay the divorce process which costs both parties more time and money – which is the opposite of getting a cheap divorce in New Jersey.
While I pride myself on being able to change my style to the circumstances at hand, I rarely find that being aggressive improves my client’s interests. In fact, it often makes the other party more defensive and paranoid, making it more difficult to settle a case quickly and affordably. But, if your ex has already hired a lawyer that you think is a bully, you need to find an attorney who knows how to handle it.
Law Office of Andrew R. Fischer
View your choice of attorney as an investment. I pride my practice of law on bringing my clients valuable representation. I believe in a no-nonsense approach, avoiding unnecessary legal processes as often as possible. Divorce is not a time to play games and waste money.
Contact the Law Office of Andrew R. Fischer today to set up a free consultation. Once I have a better understanding of your case, we can discuss how much it will (or should) cost. In some cases I provide flat fee arrangements.