When you know that divorce is the right path, there will still be practical and emotional issues that come up. But no matter your feelings about the divorce, there is one thing for certain (like death and paying taxes), you will likely have to pay an attorney to help you through this process.
You might even consider moving forward with the divorce without an attorney for the sole purpose to avoid or “save” on legal fees. However, hiring an attorney is like when you take out an insurance policy; You don’t know just how much you need it and are thankful that you have it until you stand (or are about) to lose something that is very important to you.
Especially if you have children, valuable assets, or a lot of disagreements with your spouse, the value of having an attorney will be impactful in many different ways. Of course, not all attorneys are the same. Some attorneys just “dabble” in divorce and family law, while others, like us, have devoted their entire career and law firm to these kinds of matters. It is important to truly understand this because you could pay a much bigger and long term “price” in your matter, your future, and that future of your children because you wanted to save in the short term on the cost of an inexperienced divorce and family law attorney. There is no substitute for quality legal services and guidance, which any attorney who can deliver that needs to and will be expected to be paid commensurate with their skills and abilities to provide to you that kind of outstanding legal knowledge.
So, the bottom line is that hiring an experienced divorce attorney is an investment in your future. At MR. Men’s Rights Divorce & Family Law of New Jersey by Schultz & Associates, LLC, we fight for you to get the best possible outcome. Contact us through our online form or call 201-340-9036 to schedule an initial consultation.
Different Types of Divorce Incur Different Costs
There’s no set price for a divorce. Every divorce situation is different and the cost is directly proportional to the varying issues that cannot be agreed upon. However, even in what one would call a “simple” divorce (no children, assets, etc), it is important to speak to an attorney to make sure that you are complying with the procedural requirements of the divorce and finalizing whatever issues there are in a manner that is objectively fair to you and that aligns with New Jersey Divorce laws.
“Simple” divorces are not that common, even though you may think your matter is straightforward. An Uncontested Divorce only happens if you and the opposing party agree on all of the issues. If there is even just one issue that the two of you do not agree on, then it is considered a Contested Divorce.
Most couples have accumulated assets and debts during their marriage that need to be divided in a divorce and if one takes a DIY approach to a divorce, you can really be short changing yourself or unknowingly give up too much.
Also, arguably, the most important part is the children. Discussions surrounding short term and long term custody plans, visitation arrangements (for during the year, holidays, summers, etc) are crucial in the divorce process to preserve your relationship with your children, and preserve your legal rights for years to come.
A lot of clients ask us whether they can save on legal fees by attending mediation. Mediation is wonderful and one way to resolve the issues in a divorce. However, it is not meant to be a way to circumvent or shortcut the divorce process. It is meant to be a supplement.
Plus, what most clients forget is that you still need to pay for the mediators time. The mediator is a “neutral” party and cannot and should not be giving you or your spouse any legal advice. Their interest and agenda is to settle a case; not necessarily whether you got the best deal you could. In fact, at the end of the mediation session(s), the mediator is required to tell you to take any tentative agreement discussed and bring it to a lawyer of your own choosing for review before you sign. So, you end up in a lawyers chair anyway.
But, in this instance, it is very difficult for any lawyer to give you an opinion about the agreement you discussed at mediation without being part of the process or having any independent objective knowledge or criteria to understand the entire situation. This is not a knock on mediation; as part of the divorce process, mediation is a built in event if it is necessary and appropriate and takes place in a lot of divorce matters with most times the lawyers going with you.
Participation in mediation can and will be done in due course during this process and especially once some of the issues are narrowed down so you only have to discuss a few topics with the mediator, not all of them. Plus, not all mediators are created equal and we would want to discuss choosing the best mediator for your particular situation and the personalities involved in the matter.
The divorces that cost the most are those where there is high emotional conflict, you or the opposing party want to disagree about everything, where one or both of you are insistent on being the “winner”, extensive litigation in Court (where the preparation for and attendance in the court hours require lengthy time), and/or having an unreasonable opposing party or unreasonable/inexperienced opposing counsel. There are plenty of times where protracted litigation is necessary to right a wrong, preserve legal rights, or most importantly, for the safety and well-being of you or the children.
Most attorneys get paid based upon the time they devote to your matter on an hourly, or prorated share, of their hourly rate. So, the more time the attorney has to spend on your matter, the more it will cost no matter what those events entail. Attorneys are also under an ethical and legal obligation to protect their client’s and although you may not feel a certain task is necessary, you should defer to your attorney as they are the experienced ones in the field. At minimum, discuss with your attorney as to why they think a certain task or approach is necessary so you understand the value of paying for that work they will be doing on your behalf.
Court Mandated Filing Fees
Court Filing Fee
Courts require you to pay a fee when you file your divorce complaint. In Bergen County, NJ, the filing fee is $300, and an additional $25 for a parent’s education class you have to take if you have children under the age of 18. To file an Answer or Counterclaim to a Complaint for Divorce, the filing fee is $175.
Parenting Workshop Fee
If you’re requesting custody or parenting time, you have to pay a $25 Parenting Workshop fee in New Jersey.
Service of Process Fee
If you file for your divorce, you have to serve your spouse with the paperwork. There’s a fee associated with this, whether you use the sheriff’s office or a private company. It can save costs if your spouse acknowledges receipt of the Divorce paperwork in writing. Before you can proceed with the divorce, the Court requires legitimate proof of service.
It’s in your best interest to work with a divorce lawyer. Yes, it’s an additional, but worthwhile expense. Most divorce attorneys require an upfront retainer and then charge hourly. When you hire an experienced divorce lawyer, you get their knowledge of the law, their experience and insight, they are able to maneuver around the procedural aspects of your matter, and they are skilled negotiators and advocates in your best interest.
They are typically hourly or per-session fees for the mediator. Mediators can be attorneys, non-attorneys, or retired Judges. The fee for a mediator is usually dependent upon their level of experience, just like lawyers. Both spouses usually contribute in some fashion for the cost of mediator and the mediation sessions.
You might have to hire other professionals to offer recommendations during your divorce, such as a forensic accountant (to find hidden money, to do a cash flow analysis, or value a business) or child custody best interest evaluator to help opine on a custody or visitation arrangement. Appraisers are common third parties during a divorce if you need to determine the value of your home, artwork, or other valuable assets.
Other Costs to Prepare for in a NJ Divorce
Consider these other expenses:
- Moving: You might choose to leave your shared home during the divorce (speak with an attorney first please) or after you sell the home. Either way, you should budget at some point to have to cover moving costs
- Refinancing a Mortgage: If part of the divorce settlement is that you stay in the house you own, you’ll have to refinance the mortgage to get the title in your name only.
- Refinancing an Auto Loan: If your spouse’s name is on the title of the vehicle you want to keep, then you must deal with the auto loan before you can transfer ownership to just you.
- New Auto Insurance Policy: Eventually, you will need to change your auto insurance policy just to cover you and any children you have driving; you will have to price shop this because you may not receive a multi-car discount anymore.
- New Cell Phone Number/Device: Depending on the circumstances, you may need to switch your phone/device off of a family plan and put this in your individual name. There will likely be costs associated with this transfer.
- Health Insurance: If you are on your spouse’s health insurance plan, eventually, you will have to purchase your own insurance through your employer or the Marketplace.
Talk with Us About Managing the Cost of a Divorce
Our team at MR. Men’s Rights Divorce & Family Law of New Jersey by Schultz & Associates, LLC, has walked many people through a divorce. We can offer advice on how to manage costs when working with an attorney without sacrificing the quality of the legal work you will receive, plus all of our valuable knowledge and experience handling these kinds of matters exclusively.
To learn more, call us at 201-340-9036, or use our online form to request an initial consultation.