Divorce does not have to be expensive. Many of the costs for a divorce are within a client’s control, including how often you communicate with your attorney and how familiar you are with your financial circumstances.
New Jersey has a very matter-of-fact way of looking at a divorce: your marriage is akin to a business and, as a result of certain circumstances, we need to close down the business. The reason for the failure of the business is not relevant; all that matters is that we have assets and liabilities that need to be distributed amongst the business partners in a fair and reasonable fashion. There is no room for emotion in a New Jersey divorce case and, while it may be difficult to keep emotions out of your position, being practical and settlement-minded will reduce your costs.
Take the time to find out about your finances before speaking with a lawyer. Gather up the last three years of tax returns, bank and retirement statements, and credit card balances. Providing your lawyer with these documents will potentially avoid the expense of subpoenas, depositions, and other costly discovery methods.
When you communicate with your lawyer, don’t leave out certain facts because they don’t put you in the greatest light. It is important that your lawyer know the good, the bad, and the ugly in order to represent you in the best way possible. It becomes time-consuming – which translates into expensive – if an additional source of income or credit card debt is discovered when we are in the throes of finalizing a settlement.
Understand that no one wins in a divorce. Reaching a settlement in New Jersey is a result of hard work and compromise on both sides. If you cannot settle your case and you put your life decisions in the hands of a judge, you will not only lose all control over your divorce, but you will also pay serious amounts of money to your lawyer – money that could have otherwise been spent on a child’s college education or put away for retirement. Be flexible and practical as you move through your divorce.
Listen to your lawyer. You retained your lawyer based upon their reputation, knowledge, and skill. Allow your lawyer to guide you through the process in a way that is best for your circumstances. Your lawyer is on your side and will offer you practical advice. Listening to your lawyer’s advice may avoid a motion practice and will serve to keep costs down.
Typically, there is no reason a divorce should be unaffordable for someone who wants one. Educating yourself through your lawyer, being open-minded to a settlement, and taking emotions out of the negotiations should result in an amicable divorce and allow you to move on with your life without having to pay your lawyer a fortune.
Matrimonial attorney Amy Harris of Keith, Winters & Wenning, LLC has more than 15 years of experience and practices family law exclusively. Located in Bradley Beach, she has been admitted to both the New Jersey and Pennsylvania bars