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Pitfalls Of Self-Representation During A New Jersey Divorce

One of the biggest concerns when it comes to divorce in New Jersey is the cost of hiring an attorney. Courtroom television shows have given many people a misconception of the complexity of a divorce proceeding. Often times litigants feel that they might be able to represent themselves, saving money that they might have spent on legal representation. There are many reasons why this is a mistake. A person who is neither experienced in New Jersey law nor has the ability to look clearly at the situation in an even-handed fashion is liable to make a vast amount of errors during their case. In the long run, it will cost even more money than hiring a lawyer. If the marriage has property, assets, children and other issues in question, it becomes even more imperative to have legal representation. Even if the divorce is perceived as being “simple” or “friendly” it would be smart to talk to a lawyer before finalizing the process.

Pitfalls Of Self-Representation In A Divorce

paper family cut in two

A person who is not a trained legal professional in New Jersey is liable to make a litany of mistakes in handling the litigation. Some of the most common include: not understanding the finances of a divorce; battling over the marital property; misunderstanding how to label child custody and child visitation agreements; missing claims to assets accumulated during the marriage; making a drastic mistake in the child support calculations; and being overly emotional and unable to think clearly in addressing all of these important issues.

While a person might have a good handle on the financial aspects of his or her family, there's a difference between running the household and knowing how the financial aftermath of a divorce will affect both spouses and the children. This is a common misstep made by many divorcing people who self-represent. An attorney will be able to sift through your finances and come to a conclusion as to how much you can afford to pay in alimony and child support, or how much you will need if the other spouse is the one paying. You need to plan for your post-divorce financial future.

The marital home might be a source of good memories or it might be seen as a potential source of income if it is sold. Because of New Jersey's equitable distribution laws, when the divorce is finalized, there might be money owed to the spouse who did not receive the house. If there is no money available out of pocket, where will it come from? Will the spouse who receives the marital home be able to pay? Will he or she have to sell the home? An attorney will know the answer to these questions and prepare for the eventuality by looking at these questions based on the facts. A self-representing person might not consider such issues.

father holding hand

When there are children in the relationship a mistake made while agreeing on custody and visitation terms can be extremely costly to the relationship with the children prospectively. If the custodial parent has the right as part of the divorce to move out of New Jersey due to an error made by the self-representing spouse, the non-custodial parent might have trouble seeing the children. A New Jersey lawyer will know about all the fine print and how to label the agreements correctly to prevent these errors from happening.

If there are assets from the marriage—property, stocks, a business—both spouses might have a right to receive compensation from them. A self-representing spouse is very likely to miss important assets that he or she has a legal right to and the other spouse who will probably have a qualified attorney representing him or her will exploit the self-representing spouse's ignorance in these matters as well as his or her inexperience.

When a child support agreement is made, it's not just the amount of money the custodial parent will need that determines how much will be paid, but the capability on the part of the non-custodial parent to pay. In other words, if the self-representing spouse can not pay more than a certain amount to the custodial parent and is not able to provide proof that this is the case, the decision on the part of the judge could yield an amount of money in child support that the non-custodial parent will have trouble paying.

Emotions are natural during a divorce, but unfortunately, they can interfere with a self-representing spouse's attempts to get a fair settlement. Getting angry during the process or at trial is not going to sway the judge and will in fact probably harm the self-representing spouse's case. An attorney will not be emotionally involved to such a degree that there will be gaffes made as a result of anger or hurt feelings.

Contact A Qualified New Jersey Divorce Attorney

If you or a loved one are contemplating divorce in Middletown, Forked River, Wall Township or any other town in New Jersey and are considering representing yourself in the case, it is wise to speak to a qualified New Jersey divorce attorney from the Law Firm of Villani & DeLuca, P.C. in Point Pleasant Beach prior to making such a decision. While the idea of self-representation might seem like a good idea to save money or because the divorce is expected to be quick and simple do not make a costly mistake, there are many traps that an inexperienced person is likely to fall into when representing him or herself.

Other Resources

Tips For The Best New Jersey Divorce Settlement

The Cost Of Divorce In New Jersey

Friendly, Uncontested Divorce Process In New Jersey

Shared Parenting In New Jersey Divorce

Before moving forward with self-representation in a divorce in Ocean County, Monmouth County or anywhere else in New Jersey, contact the divorce attorneys at Villani & DeLuca, P.C. to discuss your case. Call 732-751-4991 today.

Vincent DeLuca, Esq.

As a founding partner at Villani & DeLuca, Vincent DeLuca is one of only a few Certified Matrimonial Law Attorney in Ocean County, New Jersey. Mr. DeLuca has helped many clients navigate the delicate details of their own divorce. Mr. DeLuca is also a trained divorce mediator and collaborative divorce attorney. Call today at (732) 751-4991 to speak to Mr. DeLuca or one of our experienced NJ Divorce Lawyers.