Divorces can be expensive. You are splitting up your assets, and probably splitting a two-income home in half (or having to provide for two households at the least). You think you and your spouse can pretty much agree to anything, so you decide to file for divorce without consulting or hiring a lawyer in order to avoid the attorney’s fees. While people do this quite frequently, there are some massive, and incredibly expensive, pitfalls that can await you if you attempt to go it alone (or in legal-speak, pro se). The following is a list of reasons on why you should not file a divorce in NJ without a lawyer.
- It could get expensive. I know you think that if you do not hire an attorney, you will avoid those expensive attorney’s fees. That is true. However, you should think of these fees as an investment. Doing property division on your own can be difficult, especially if your estate is particularly large or complex. Dividing up real property requires multiple documents and transactions. Trying to divide up your retirement uses multiple laws and procedures. Mishandling distribution of your retirement account can actually cost you huge fees or tax penalties that a lawyer would know to avoid. And these are just the property issues.
- You could mess up your custody case. Even if you and your spouse agree to a custody arrangement that is fair, if you mislabel the agreement as shared custody instead of joint legal custody, this could have huge negative repercussions for you, resulting in a loss of parental rights in some respects. It is difficult and costly to modify orders after they are entered, and having a lawyer will make sure to catch any errors or misunderstandings before they become final. Lawyers can also give you advice on how to prepare your case for custody – including what not to do. Many parties think that talking to their children about the case, especially if they are older, is a good idea. A lawyer would guide you that it’s usually not a good idea – and if you want your child to state a preference as to who they would like to live with, a lawyer would be able to get this evidence in front of a judge through better venues than you speaking to your child. The opposing side could convince the court that you are trying to sway the child to like you more.