Pitfalls of Handling Your Own Divorce in New Jersey
Getting divorced can make you conscious about your budget and lifestyle. Contemplating life without your spouse’s financial and other contributions can be daunting, and many people are tempted to do a DIY divorce to save money. However, a DIY divorce is likely to cost you more in the long run.
The divorce attorneys at Moskowitz Law Group are sensitive to your concerns. When you are considering handling this process by yourself, at least be aware of the pitfalls of handling your own divorce in New Jersey.
Not Understanding What You Deserve
New Jersey’s divorce laws may sound simple. Most people can understand the concept of an equitable distribution of property or the idea that children do best when they have nurturing relationships with both parents. That being said, using these concepts to create a divorce agreement the court will accept can be surprisingly challenging.
People who handle their own divorces often sell themselves short financially. If one spouse earned most of the money, the other might allow them most of the property and discount their own non-monetary contributions to the marriage. A spouse who is entitled to ongoing spousal support while they try to become self-supporting might waive this right just to get the divorce settled. Then, once the divorce is over and they find themselves on their own, the financial realities set in and they may not be able to make ends meet.
Similarly, people sometimes give up the right to be an active parent too easily. Each parent has equal rights when it comes to child custody, and the courts generally are trending to favor arrangements where the parents share as close to equal time as possible. Just because a parent was not a primary caregiver before the separation does not mean they cannot be an involved and nurturing parent afterward. A New Jersey divorce attorney can warn a spouse against these compromises, ensuring they get the full extent of marital assets, financial support, and parental rights to which they are entitled.
Getting Too Emotionally Involved
Even the friendliest and most amicable divorces are hard on the people going through them. While many people try to maintain civility during a divorce, emotions can be raw. Sometimes, raw emotion clouds judgment.
Too often, spouses trying to handle their divorce without help get hung up on an issue that has little overall significance in the settlement process. A small obstacle can delay an agreement, and often, one spouse will cave on the issue just to get the settlement done and finalize the divorce. This obviously can result in an unfair result in the end.
Working with a legal divorce professional in New Jersey can provide the necessary objectivity to help overcome obstacles and delays. Calm and knowledgeable legal guidance can keep the negotiations moving forward productively, resulting in a better agreement faster.
Needing an Attorney After All
When people handle their own divorce, they often end up needing help from an attorney at some point. Hopefully, the parties will reach out to legal counsel before the court accepts their settlement agreement and issues a divorce. Once the court has issued a judgment on property division, a judge will not change it unless a spouse can prove fraud or some other kind of extraordinary circumstances under the law. A spouse who waived alimony in a settlement agreement cannot go back and ask for it after the divorce is final. Essentially, there is no room for second thoughts after a divorce is final, and final means final.
Orders regarding custody, child support, and alimony can be modified after the divorce is final. However, before a court will consider a modification, the party seeking the change must show that there is a substantial change in circumstances since the order was issued. This can be difficult, or even impossible, to do, which is why it is important to get it right from the start. Finding fair and workable agreements before they are submitted to the court is a wiser use of everyone’s time and money.
Couples who want to keep expenses down and avoid litigation could work with a mediator to create acceptable agreements or try to do it without a mediator’s help. Regardless, each spouse can avoid potential pitfalls by taking the agreement to an experienced New Jersey divorce attorney for review before signing. A legal professional can review the document, suggest revisions, and offer guidance on submitting the paperwork to the court. This limited engagement is far less expensive than having to go to court to change agreements later.
All too often, someone will hire an attorney toward the late stages of a divorce, but before an agreement is made. They may have made serious mistakes during the divorce process that can be very difficult to undo, especially if their spouse had their own attorney. Thus, it is preferable to have a divorce attorney from beginning to end.
Avoid Common Pitfalls by Working With a New Jersey Divorce Attorney
Couples who communicate well and have the same ideas about how their divorce should proceed might try to handle this process without legal representation. While there is a chance of success, there is often a high cost in lost opportunities, unanticipated financial consequences, and not fully understanding the bargain they made until it is too late.
Asking a family law attorney to explain your rights and obligations and review an agreement before you sign it is an excellent use of limited funds that can save you money in the long run. Call today to discuss your situation with a knowledgeable professional who can help you avoid the pitfalls of handling your own divorce in New Jersey.