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5 Very Real Dangers of a Do-It-Yourself Divorce

Divorces are difficult and emotionally draining. Noting these realities, it is also understandable that many couples would like to try to find ways to avoid the costs associated with the traditional New Jersey divorce process. Some people attempt to pursue what oftentimes is called a do-it-yourself divorce. The stark reality is that not retaining the assistance of experienced legal counsel in a New Jersey divorce can have some significantly negative potential consequences.

There are five more commonplace dangers associated with a do-it-yourself divorce that could have long term consequences for you:

  • Making uninformed decisions
  • Inability to enforce court orders
  • Problems establishing residency requirements
  • Missing important paperwork
  • Lack of advocacy

Making Uninformed Decisions

Without proper legal advice or understanding of relevant laws, couples attempting a divorce on your own may make decisions that cost them more in the long run. Decisions regarding property division, child support, alimony payments and other vital matters should be made after careful consideration of all available options by those who understand the law and its implications.

Inability to Enforce Court Orders

A court order is only effective if there is an avenue for enforcement. If a person opts for a divorce on your own without the help of an attorney, that individual may not have access to the same enforcement mechanisms as those with legal representation. This could mean that important decisions such as custody arrangements are not followed and enforcing them becomes a challenge without the assistance of legal counsel. This definitely can leave an unrepresented individual in a disadvantaged position.

Problems Establishing Residency Requirements

There are certain New Jersey divorce residency requirements that must be met before people can file for a divorce. A do-it-yourself divorce may result in these requirements being overlooked or not properly addressed. This can result in delays or even dismissal of a New Jersey divorce case.

Missing Important Paperwork

Divorce paperwork is complex. Missing essential documents can lead to long delays or even dismissal of a divorce proceeding. An inexperienced individual attempting a do-it-yourself divorce may not be aware of all required paperwork or how it needs to be completed correctly.

Lack of Effective Advocacy

Perhaps most importantly, without legal representation there is no advocate working on behalf of a party to a New Jersey divorce case. This lack of representation and advocacy for a party “going it alone” can have a significantly negative impact when an attempt is being made to settle a marriage dissolution case. A lack of an attorney during court hearings let alone during a divorce trial can have absolutely devastating consequences.

The legal reality is that an unrepresented person in a New Jersey divorce case essentially will be held to the same standards as a licensed and experienced lawyer. In other words, mistakes made by a person pursuing a divorcer without legal representation can result in the same types of consequences, including sanctions, that would occur if these types of errors were made by a licensed lawyer.

The bottom line is that a person who pursues a divorce without an attorney places his or herself at considerable risk. It may be true that a person seeking a divorce without representation saves money on attorney fees at the start of a case. However, a very real possibility exists in many, many situations that an individual that took such a course will be faced with paying attorney fees in the long run. Indeed, the amount of money expended on attorney fees is likely to be far more because once legal counsel is hired, that lawyer will have to expend time and energy fixing problems created by the party to a divorce case that did not seek representation from a capable divorce lawyer in the first place.

Finally, in nearly all contested divorce cases in which a party does not retain a lawyer, that individual will find that the other spouse is more likely to prevail when it comes to a variety of matters that may be at issue in a particular marriage dissolution case. The best and surest way for a person to protect legal rights and interests in a divorce case is by hiring a capable, experienced, tenacious New Jersey divorce lawyer. Call us at 201 845 7400 for a free consultation.



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Peter Van Aulen was selected to the 2016 and 2017 Super Lawyers list. The Super Lawyers list is issued by Thomson Reuters. A description of the selection methodology can be found here. No aspect of this advertisement has been approved by the Supreme Court of New Jersey.

Peter Van Aulen has received a rating by Martindale Hubbell. A description of the rating methodology can be found here. No aspect of this advertisement has been approved by the Supreme Court of New Jersey.

Peter Van Aulen is certified by the New Jersey Supreme Court as a Matrimonial Attorney.

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