Edward R. Weinstein, Esq.

Why You Shouldn’t File Your Own Divorce

Filing a New Jersey Divorce is a complex process. There are many aspects of your current and future life up for negotiation, forms to be filed with the court, and eventually standing in front of a judge. Along the way there are a multiple of obstacles and loopholes to avoid. To the courts, representing yourself is referred to as “Pro Se,” which translates to without counsel. As a New Jersey Divorce and Family Attorney, I have helped many clients who may have taken on the legal process without counsel and quickly realized they needed assistance. I’ve also had clients who made it through the process only to realize they their agreements aren’t working or they made mistakes that are suddenly starting to cost them.

The number one reason why people choose to file their own divorce is because they think it will save them money. You may be asking yourself “can I save money filing my own divorce?” In my experience, it winds up costing people far more than any attorney fees they would have paid. By finding an honest and ethical attorney with an expert and efficient staff you will save money in several ways.

  1. At first, many think that they have an amicable relationship with their soon-to-be-ex and therefore do not need legal counsel. What they do not anticipate is that the excellent relationship may start to unravel when you start to get into the details of your arrangements. An experience New Jersey divorce lawyer can offer creative solutions and will fight for the best deal possible to secure your future. In fact, if you have an experienced an attorney they should have an arsenal of suggestions and ability to represent your best interests during negotiations.
  2. Working through the court system takes experience and attention to detail. You not only have to put the right agreements in place, but your forms need to be filled out correctly or the court will return them to you with little explanation. Recently, a client shared with me that she filed her own divorce and when she called and asked questions the court would say “we don’t help you, there is a law library to answer your questions.” The right attorney will meticulously prepare all of your divorce documentation – track progress and response from the court, and keep you informed at each step of the process.
  3. Make sure the legal wording of your documentation is correct. This is both a short-term and long-term savings issue. In addition to the complexity of required court documentation and filing procedures, the wording of your divorce needs to be precise. As an example, the types of alimony you request in your paperwork can have significant ramifications including the length of time it is paid and for what reasons. You could find yourself cut-off in a few years or paying for too long
    And there are many ways to save yourself money on legal fees, I’ve previously blogged about them here for your reference.

    Remember, no matter how you get through the divorce process, the final agreements are legally binding. You will be legally bound to comply with the agreements including alimony and child support payments. If these weren’t calculated or negotiated properly, you may be paying too much or receiving too less. Additionally, if you forget to include certain things, like a plan to divide an asset, you may be headed back to court. You could also forget important documents that are necessary to protect your assets and save you money on taxes.

    If your divorce proceedings include issues of domestic violence, complex financial matters, or you think money is being hidden, it might be in your best interest to consult counsel to protect yourself. Additionally, if you know you and your spouse are not going to be able to agree on most matters and you believe your case will be headed to court, you will need expert advice. Lastly, if your spouse has hired an attorney and you have been served with a mountain of paperwork, please call our office to schedule an appointment. Our expert and efficient staff can outline a plan of attack for your case and represent your best interest in negotiating your future.