New Jersey has the third lowest divorce rate in the country. Even though fewer people are filing for divorce in The Garden State than in other places in the U.S., when this time comes in your life, it is important to know the law and how to handle the process.
Filing for divorce in New Jersey can be confusing and complex. There are several laws, requirements, and deadlines that must be met. Additionally, the legalese used in many documents may leave you wondering if you are handling the process properly.
The process can become overwhelming quickly, which is when having legal representation is invaluable. If you are unsure that you need a divorce lawyer to help with your case, learn about what they offer here.
When You Represent Yourself, You Are Held to the Same Standard of Knowledge as a Lawyer
If you choose to represent yourself in your divorce, you do so “Pro Se.” This means you are expected to know the same rules, procedures, statutes, and case law as lawyers do. For most, this is impossible. The only exception is if you have attended law school and actively practice law.
Even lawyers who practice in a different area of law are typically not well-versed enough in divorce law to represent themselves. This is why even other lawyers hire experienced divorce attorneys to represent them.
Your Spouse May Have a Lawyer
When filing for divorce, there is a good chance your spouse will also hire legal representation. Attempting to create a case against an experienced attorney presents all new issues you must deal with.
For example, the attorney for your spouse cannot give you legal advice or assistance. Also, the attorney will assume you understand your case’s rules and laws. This means you will be at a significant disadvantage in going against an attorney.
Pro Se and Do-it-Yourself Forms Are Not All-Encompassing
Uncontested and simplified divorce forms may make it seem like handling your case “pro se” will be simple. There are situations where this is the case; however, this is the exception, not the rule.
For example, if you and your spouse own property together or receive something titled in the other person’s name, things get complicated, and the do-it-yourself forms are not adequate. In situations like this, the language used is too simplistic to account for every scenario that may arise.
For example, you may use a form to give your spouse your 2020 GMC Sierra. What happens if the vehicle is still in your name? How long do they have to refinance it? How can you effectuate these things? The simple forms are not detailed enough to handle complex situations like this.
The same situation arises when trying to divide a retirement account. Some retirement plans require the use of a QILDRO (Qualified Domestic Relations Order). Some people are surprised to learn they were awarded half of their spouse’s pension, and when the person retires, they receive nothing. The reason for this is that simple divorce forms are not all-encompassing documents. They cannot deal with the advanced and complex situations with property division and retirement accounts.
In these situations, having an experienced attorney representing your interests is in your best interest.
The Legalese in Legal Documents Is Not Always Straightforward
Legalese (or legal jargon) is confusing. Even if your spouse’s attorney drafted your documents, you need someone to review them. This is beneficial even if you do not hire them for full representation.
In the legal industry, the plain meaning and legal meaning of words and phrases are different. While you may think you understand what you are reading and later find out, you did not. With an attorney, you can avoid this scenario.
Litigation After the Divorce Is Often Messier with a Pro Se Process
You may have more issues after your divorce is finalized. Post-decree litigation can be more complicated if one or both parties completed their forms and were self-represented.
You can avoid this situation by having an attorney help you with the divorce process.
Objective Legal Advice is Beneficial in These Situations
Divorce is personal and emotional. Sometimes, it is not easy to think rationally when handling legal matters. This can cost you even more in terms of time and effort.
An experienced divorce lawyer will provide an unbiased opinion about what is going on and advise on your case. They can also help you focus on the “big picture” and goals. Usually, this is in your best interest and a more affordable option.
Finding the Right Attorney Will Help You with Your Divorce in New Jersey
When you file for divorce, it is something you have likely considered carefully. If you want to ensure the process moves along smoothly, hiring a New Jersey divorce attorney is recommended.
If you are ready to hire a divorce attorney, contact Sangiovanni Marchetti Law. You can speak to an attorney and learn more about your legal rights and options. We are here to help you through the legal process and work to help you secure a favorable outcome.
The first step is to call our office to schedule an appointment with our law team.