When it comes to getting a divorce in New Jersey, there are plenty of options available. In fact, Divorce Mediation Services of New Jersey finds there are just about as many ways to get divorced as there are ways to get married. So how can you know which one is the right one for your situation? Let’s take a moment to examine what your choices are, and how each one stacks up, to help you make a more informed decision.
Pro Se Divorce
Otherwise known as “do it yourself”, this is the least expensive way to get a divorce in New Jersey. The major downside to this type of divorce, however, is that it doesn’t involve any help from an experienced professional. The laws and statutes surrounding divorce in New Jersey are extremely complex, and just the simple task of filling out the right paperwork can be downright confusing. Unless you’ve got experience in divorce law, pro se divorce is extremely risky. In other words, buyer beware.
Many people erroneously believe that the only way to divorce in New Jersey is to go to court. This can be a costly mistake. Litigated divorce involves both spouses hiring their own respective attorneys to represent them in court. There are many downsides to this type of divorce. First, it’s expensive. Lawyers typically charge a hefty retainer up front, and then an additional hourly rate thereafter. Secondly, because of this fee schedule, there is little motivation for the case to be moved along quickly, which in turn can cause things to drag out for months or even years. Unless you’ve got lots of time and money to waste, this is probably not the wisest choice.
This type of divorce gives you much more control over the outcome and is a little timelier than litigated divorce. It’s also somewhat more private and amicable, since negotiations are conducted behind closed doors between both spouses, along with a number of third parties, such as accountants and child advocates, who weigh in on the case. Unfortunately, collaborative divorce is still a costly option since the fees for these third parties are passed along to the divorcing couple. So, you’ll save time, but it’ll still cost you quite a bit in the end.
Finally, there is divorce mediation. Like collaborative divorce, this option encourages positive negotiation and conflict resolution between both spouses. Where the two differ, however, is in the number of people involved in the process. Mediation typically involves only the two spouses and the mediator, who is present to help guide the process along and help the couple stay focused on reaching an amicable settlement. Because mediation eliminates the need for multiple third parties, it is much less expensive. It also allows for a more personalized settlement and a much quicker resolution, since the spouses drive the process and control what things are included in the agreement.
If you’re considering filing for divorce in New Jersey, it’s important that you do your homework and understand ahead of time what your options are. By weighing your choices, and knowing up front what the pros and cons are for each of them, you will be better prepared to make an education decision that is best for you and your family.