Divorce can be stressful, emotionally draining, and costly in more ways than one. If your relationship with your spouse is fairly amiable, it’s not surprising that you might consider representing yourself to avoid the cost of hiring an attorney. You may consider yourself an intelligent person and think that your divorce should be fairly straightforward. While you may be right, representing yourself in your New Jersey divorce is usually not a good idea, and could prove to be even more costly, both financially and in terms of the overall outcome of your case.
Representing yourself in divorce can put you in a vulnerable position and put you at a significant disadvantage. This is especially true if your spouse hires a divorce lawyer, and you have not. Even in a situation where it seems like you agree on everything and you expect an amicable settlement, keep in mind that things can take a turn at any point during the process. Even though you may have a cordial relationship with your spouse, it is important to understand that your spouse’s lawyer has no obligation to protect your interest and cannot give you legal advice. This is why it is critical to be represented by your own experienced New Jersey divorce attorney who can guide you through the process, protect your interests, and who is focused on advancing your priorities.
Here are 3 reasons why representing yourself in divorce could be a costly mistake.
You May Not Understand Your Rights
New Jersey divorce law is complicated. If you don’t know your rights or understand the laws regarding things like child support, spousal maintenance, asset division, and child custody, how can you be sure you are getting the best outcome from your divorce? For example, your spouse’s attorney may offer shared physical custody while giving your spouse sole legal custody. If you don’t understand what these terms mean you could forfeit your right to be involved in important decisions throughout your child’s life. Only with shared legal custody can you have a say in matters of medical care, schooling, religious matters, etc. Don’t risk walking away with anything less than what you are entitled to under the law.
It’s Difficult To Be Objective
Divorce can be a highly emotional process. Even when both spouses agree that divorce is the right decision, it can still be an emotional roller coaster at times. Unrealistic expectations about how things should go amidst an emotionally charged atmosphere can make it almost impossible to see your case objectively. And responding from a place of anger or frustration can quickly undermine your case putting you at a disadvantage. You are just too close to the situation. A knowledgeable divorce and family law attorney will be able to objectively advocate for you and your interests.
Mistakes Could Be Financially Costly
The New Jersey divorce process can be complicated. For example, there are strict procedural and timing requirements. Failing to respond with the proper paperwork to a petition to divorce could result in your spouse receiving a default judgment. This basically means that the court equates your silence with agreement to the terms in the petition. The same applies to various motions that could be filed during the course of your divorce.
Failing to understand the law can also result in other costly mistakes as well. For example, do you know what to do if your spouse cuts you off financially during the divorce process? Do you know what to do if you find out your spouse is dissipating or hiding marital assets? 1 An experienced New Jersey divorce lawyer will know how to protect your interest in these types of situations where time is of the essence.
Asset Division in New Jersey Can Be Complicated
New Jersey is an equitable distribution state. This means that the court will divide any assets, property, and debt accumulated during the marriage fairly, but not necessarily equally. There are a number of factors that are considered when it comes to division of real estate and property in New Jersey. The law is complicated, and all assets need to be evaluated properly to ensure equitable distribution. While the court has final say regarding asset division, they will usually honor agreements made between the spouses. If your spouse is represented by an attorney who has experience and extensive knowledge of asset division in New Jersey, and you are not, this could put you at a serious disadvantage for getting your share of what rightly belongs to you.
The Stakes Are Too High To Risk Representing Yourself
Maybe you are a parent and you want to ensure that you remain an integral part of your children’s lives, and you don’t want them to be used as bargaining chips. Or maybe yours is a high net-worth divorce involving complex financial matters. Either way, there is too much at stake to risk representing yourself in divorce. No matter what your circumstances, New Jersey divorce and family law attorney, Andrew Fischer, has the knowledge, experience, and caring to guide you through the process while ensuring that your future is protected. Contact our office today.