The cheapest way to end a marriage in New Jersey is to avoid hiring a lawyer. But is it legit? And how to proceed without legal help? This article will discuss a few options to reduce divorce costs that do not require extensive knowledge of family law. So let’s dive right in.
How Expensive is Divorce in New Jersey?
The largest share of divorce costs is the attorney’s fees. New Jersey lawyers charge $300-$350 per hour. But it’s difficult to predict how many hours they will need to resolve the case. Typically, the total cost depends on the complexity of circumstances and marital property. For example, the cost of divorce without contested issues is approximately $4,500. Spouses with contested cases would have to pay from $12,500 to $25,000 on average.
Can You Get Divorced Without an Attorney in New Jersey?
New Jersey Law allows spouses to represent their case in court without a lawyer’s help. However, the court and judges will not make any exceptions or treat pro se litigants with leniency. Therefore, basic knowledge of court rules is mandatory for anyone who wants to proceed without an attorney.
Getting a divorce
in New Jersey is only possible if one of the spouses meets the state’s residency requirements. Either of them must have lived in New Jersey for twelve months before filing for divorce. The divorce process starts when one spouse (a petitioner) files divorce papers with the court. The primary document is called a Complaint for Divorce. It includes the following:
● grounds for divorce (either no-fault or fault-based ones);
● information about the spouse;
● marital and separate property;
● information about children;
● terms of marriage dissolution, etc.
If a petitioner and a respondent (non-filing spouse) agree on the terms of their dissolution, they can choose to proceed without a lawyer. However, they would have to collect and file all the required documents with the court independently.
Ways to Get an Affordable Divorce in New Jersey
Dissolution of marriage
does not always cost a fortune if approached wisely. But to reduce its price, both spouses will have to make some efforts. First, they should get acquainted with the filing procedure and court rules. The rest depends on which option the couple chooses from the ones described below.
Most of them are based on the spouses’ willingness to negotiate and resolve conflicts outside the courtroom. And do-it-yourself and divorce over the Internet are the ones that require the couple agree on all issues in advance.
Marriage dissolution becomes much more affordable if the spouses avoid a court trial. Therefore, to end a marriage amicably, they need to discuss and agree on several issues.
● Property division. Under New Jersey Law, the property that the couple acquired during the marriage belongs to both spouses. If they want to proceed amicably, they should divide their assets and debts equitably. As for separate property, it generally belongs to the spouse who owned it before the wedding.
● Child custody. New Jersey courts prefer to award joint custody to both parents. This way, they ensure the child’s needs to interact with each parent. When the couple drafts a parenting plan, they should conclude it according to their child’s best interests. Otherwise, the judge will reject it.
● Spousal support. There are no definite formulas for spousal support in New Jersey. When the spouses determine it on their own, they should establish the amount and duration according to their needs and expenses after the marriage is over.
Couples with amicable cases can end their marriage faster if they choose irreconcilable differences as grounds for their marriage dissolution. The waiting period to file
the lawsuit using these grounds is six months. In comparison, if the couple wants to part after legal separation, they would have to wait for 18 months.
By choosing this option, a person would need to figure out many legal nuances without anyone’s help. First, they would have to collect and fill out all the court-required forms. Then, they need to file them and get the case number.
A petitioner must pay filing fees ($300) when they file their case with the court clerk. The process also includes notifying the other spouse about the lawsuit. After the preliminary stages are completed, the couple must schedule and wait for the court hearing. Approximately a month after the hearing, the court will enter the final decree.
The main advantage of the DIY option is that it’s inexpensive. However, it’s not as fast as the Internet divorce described in the next section.
The primary function of all online divorce companies is to provide their clients with automatically generated and completed court-required paperwork in short terms and at a competitive price.
To complete divorce online, meaning to get the ready-to-file packet of papers, a person should check whether they are eligible for the service. The spouses must agree on all issues, such as property division and alimony, or at least be ready to compromise in the process to use online divorce services.
Almost every such website offering application for divorce online starts with a short survey that a potential client must complete before proceeding further. If qualified, the system will offer a more extensive questionnaire to obtain detailed information about the spouses, children, assets, and other circumstances.
The main benefits of the web divorce option are:
● The spouses do not have to waste time searching for the correct court forms;
● There is less room for mistakes in completing the forms;
● The process is quick and affordable compared to a traditional procedure involving lawyers;
● Everything can be done without leaving home.
, the couple negotiates and tries to resolve their conflicts with the help of a neutral party called a mediator. The spouses can choose a mediator from the court-approved list or hire a private one. Both parties can also bring lawyers to the negotiation.
If the spouses resolve their issues during the mediation sessions, a mediator helps them conclude a settlement agreement. However, the terms of the agreement are not binding until both spouses sign it.
Mediation is cheaper than going through a full-scale court trial. For instance, New Jersey mediators typically charge $200 for a three-hour session.
All of the methods described above are very effective tools to reduce overall costs. Luckily, inexpensive divorce is a tangible reality. But it requires a little effort from the couples to restrain their emotions and proceed without conflicts.