The average person faces numerous legal dilemmas throughout their life, usually about minor things such as traffic tickets and ordinance violations. Divorce, on the other hand, is one of the most serious legal actions you will ever undertake. There are many practical issues to think about: child custody arrangements, equitable division of marital properties, and what you should request, or pay in terms of alimony and child support. You should also give some serious though to whether or not you need a lawyer. The technical answer to this question is no, since New Jersey allows individuals to represent themselves in divorce proceedings. If you get along with your spouse and feel that you can work out an agreement without going to court, you may be tempted to handle your divorce on your own.
Filing for divorce, however, is extremely complicated because there are very few definitive answers on how to proceed. Unlike most other legal proceedings, divorce filings are based on the unique circumstances within each marriage. These circumstances include the reason for your divorce, whether or not you have children, and what types of properties, debts and tax liabilities you hold in common. Even if you and your spouse are in agreement on these issues, the paperwork and documentation involved in a divorce filing is difficult to figure out without assistance from an attorney. You can certainly ask the court staff for assistance, but they can do little more than clarify the instructions that are already there. If you have questions about which arrangement is better suited for your children, or how certain terms will affect you in the future, you will be advised to speak to an attorney. If you intend to stay out of court by trying private methods like mediation, you should consult a divorce attorney to ensure that certain settlement terms are in your best interest. This is not about a lack of trust or need for control; it's actually a way to make sure that you're in full compliance of the law, and that you are both protected from future liabilities. Remember- divorce agreements are permanent unless there is a legally compelling reason to change them. Getting it right the first time will save you from a costly and time-consuming appeal process, which are generally unsuccessful.
As ironic as it sounds, consulting a lawyer is the best way to determine whether or not you need a lawyer. Experienced family law attorneys, like the ones at Villani & DeLuca, P.C., will never try to push you into retaining their services. During a free initial consultation, our attorneys will listen to your story in order to give you the best possible advice for your situation. Although you will be recommended certain legal services, working with us beyond your free consultation is completely up to you. It is, however, in your best interest to find out about rights and options before you begin the divorce process.