Do-It-Yourself Divorces in New Jersey Are Legally Dangerous
Requirements for Filing for a New Jersey Divorce
If you and your spouse have decided to divorce and have a reasonably amicable relationship, you might be tempted to get a “do-it-yourself (DIY) divorce.” Maybe you’ve seen the internet packages that offer the possibility of a quick, inexpensive way to end your marriage. The prospect of proceeding without attorney fees are enticing, but in most cases, a DIY divorce is not recommended. The main reason is this: You don’t know what you don’t know!
No matter what type of divorce you seek, there are two basic requirements that must be met in New Jersey:
- At least one of the spouses must have resided in the state for at least a year before the first party files for divorce.
- The party who files must state a ground, or legal cause, for wanting to dissolve the marriage.
New Jersey Do-It-Yourself Divorce: Not for Most Couples
Only a few couples are good candidates for a DIY divorce. A New Jersey DIY divorce might be right for you…
- if you and your spouse agree on child custody issues;
- if you both agree to a detailed parenting plan;
- if you both agree on how to equitably distribute marital property;
- if you are sure you have complete information about assets and liabilities;
- if you understand how to deal with retirement accounts;
- if you agree on who is to be head of household and other tax issues;
- if you have time to research NJ divorce law; and
- if both spouses have the temperament to deal with each other and the issues unemotionally.
As you can see, there are a lot of “ifs!” Even if the two of you get along well and want to do what is fair, mistakes can be made that will hurt you years later. If you don’t know what you don’t know, then it is impossible to be sure that you have covered all of your bases! And once you sign that agreement, you may not be able to correct your errors and omissions. This can be especially important if your ex later remarries and develops new priorities.
If you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse have a mutual desire to dissolve your marriage and agree on most important issues, there are other cost-effective and time-saving ways to proceed.
An uncontested divorce is possible when the couple agrees on child custody, parenting, child support, alimony, distribution of property, and other pertinent issues. If the parties disagree on any major issue, then the divorce will not be uncontested.
In an uncontested divorce, the party filing will likely choose a no-fault ground. In New Jersey the two no-fault grounds are irreconcilable differences and an 18-month separation.
Even when both parties are in total agreement, it is advisable for each to have an attorney draft or at least read the document to ensure that their rights and interests are protected.
Mediation is another way to resolve issues without involving litigation. The couple attempts to resolve issues with the assistance of an impartial mediator, who may or may not also be an attorney.
In New Jersey the courts often order the spouses to try to resolve their disagreements through mediation. There are two types of court-ordered mediation:
- Mediation of Child-Custody and Parenting Issues
- Mediation of Economic Issues
Some couples decide to resolve some or all of their issues through private mediation. Things that are discussed in mediation are confidential, and decisions are non-binding. Once an agreement is reached, the mediator drafts a Memorandum of Understanding. Even if your mediator was an attorney, you must choose a different attorney to draft or check this agreement.
Mediation itself is not a legal process. Your document will not be enforceable until both spouses sign the agreement.
Collaborative Divorce in New Jersey
Collaborative divorce is similar in many ways to mediation. Like mediation, it requires that the spouses are willing to cooperate and are able to communicate without too much emotion. The difference is that in a collaborative divorce, each spouse hires a NJ divorce lawyer(for non litigation purposes only) to be with him or her throughout the process.
Case Analysis From a Seasoned New Jersey Divorce Attorney
The divorce process is more complex than most realize. Generally speaking, a DIY divorce is only recommended if the couple has no children and few assets and if they have only been married a few years.
Even when both parties want the divorce and the two seem to agree on most issues, unexpected complications often arise. It is crucial that you make yourself aware of all the possible pitfalls before embarking on the process of a do-it-yourself divorce!
Simple, careless mistakes can have costly repercussions in the future. And as previously stated, “You don’t know what you don’t know,” and that can hurt you!
An experienced New Jersey divorce lawyer will analyze your unique situation and guide you through the complicated process. A seasoned attorney can use his or her expertise and knowledge of New Jersey divorce law to ensure that all possibilities are addressed and that your rights and interests are protected.
Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide legal advice. If you have a question involving divorce or family law, contact a qualified New Jersey attorney.
Case Analysis With an Experienced Divorce Attorney From Aretsky Law Group, P.C.
If you are contemplating divorce or have been served with divorce papers, the trusted attorneys at Aretsky Law Group, P.C., can help.
Call us 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-800-537-4154 for your initial consultation.