5 Reasons Why You Need a Lawyer for a New Jersey Divorce Case
Like many states, New Jersey allows parties in divorce cases to represent themselves pro se, without a lawyer. This is rarely a good idea. If your spouse has a lawyer, trying to represent yourself can put you at a serious disadvantage. Here are some of the top reasons why it is worth considering hiring a lawyer for your New Jersey divorce case.
Divorce Paperwork Can Be Complicated
If you are served with divorce papers or are considering filing for divorce yourself, you may be confused about how the process works. If you do not carefully follow the requirements associated with filing a divorce complaint or answering one, you can potentially make mistakes that negatively impact your case. Depending on the nature of the mistake, your spouse could potentially get everything he or she requested in the divorce complaint by way of default. Or, if you failed to serve your spouse correctly, the court could dismiss your complaint for divorce.
An experienced lawyer can help with your divorce paperwork, making sure that you understand all the terms of the documents. A lawyer can also notify you of the relevant deadlines you must meet and ensure your paperwork is filed in a timely manner.
Lawyers Can Help You See the Big Picture
Divorce is often an emotionally-charged event. You may be struggling with strong emotions such as betrayal, grief, depression, fear or despair. It can be difficult to work through these emotions while also making important decisions about your future.
A lawyer can help you focus on the long-term effects of your divorce. He or she can also help you process any negative feelings you may have toward your spouse so that the two of you can work toward a civil co-parenting relationship. A lawyer can also help you make decisions based on reason and avoid making mistakes because of emotion.
A Lot Is at Stake
While divorce is an emotional process, it also involves decisions, arrangements and agreements that can impact your life for many years to come. Your legal and financial interests will be affected as decisions are made in the divorce process regarding:
- How to divide your property, assets and debt
- How to parent your child with someone with whom you will no longer live
- What amount of child support to request
- Whether to ask for or defend against a spousal support request
- What to do with the marital home
A skilled lawyer can provide you with advice on how to approach your divorce and may make recommendations as to how to resolve these matters. Your lawyer can also answer any questions you have during the process and address any concerns as they arise.
Support Formulas Can Be Complex
Some of the more complicated matters involved in New Jersey divorce cases concern financial support, including child support as well as spousal support or alimony. New Jersey has child support guidelines to help determine the appropriate amount of child support. The basic support obligation is determined primarily utilizing the combined incomes of both parents and the number of children to be supported. The amount may then be adjusted by other factors, including:
- Parenting time schedule and number of overnights
- Children’s health insurance premiums
- Extracurricular expenses
- Work-related childcare expenses
- Child support payments for children from prior marriage or relationships
To arrive at the correct child support amount, it is important to ensure the documents you file with the court are complete and accurate, including amounts for the children’s health insurance coverage and work-related childcare. Many lawyers utilize computer programs to perform the child support calculations, which makes it easier to calculate child support and compare different scenarios based upon a change of the factors that go into the guidelines.
Spousal support can be even more complicated because there is no set formula or approved guidelines calculation to determine the proper amount of support. Some lawyers try to provide an estimate of spousal support utilizing a percentage of the difference in the parties’ income. Courts, however, are required to consider and apply several statutory factors when determining spousal support, which is why it is important to have a knowledgeable lawyer on your side to advocate for you.
Contempt Can Lead to Serious Consequences
There can be serious consequences if you do not follow the court’s orders. If you are representing yourself pro se, you are held to the same standard as lawyers. You are expected to conduct yourself in the same manner as a lawyer and follow the same court rules and procedures as lawyers are required to do. If you fail to provide the information required by the court or requested by the other party, disobey a court order or fail to pay support as ordered, you could be found in contempt and face significant consequences. A knowledgeable lawyer can ensure you follow the court’s rules and understand its orders to avoid any repercussions.
Contact a Knowledgeable New Jersey Divorce Lawyer for Assistance
If you are going through a divorce in New Jersey, hiring the right lawyer should be at the top of your to-do list. An experienced divorce lawyer can provide you with an objective perspective on your case and the legal issues involved and advocate for you to obtain a favorable outcome in your case. Contact our office today to schedule a confidential consultation and learn more about how we can help.