Myths of Divorce

MYTH #1 – I have to be separated for 18 months before I file for divorce in New Jersey

UNTRUE! – New Jersey is a “fault” state for divorce, meaning that you must state grounds for divorce, such as (but not limited to) irreconcilable differences, adultery, extreme cruelty or separation. Separation for 18 months or more permits either party to commence an action for divorce, without regard to marital fault. Thus, because this ground is referred to as the “no-fault ground,” a common misconception is that couples must wait 18 months prior to commencing their action for divorce. In cases where the ground stated is irreconcilable differences, adultery, extreme cruelty or one of the other several grounds no waiting period is generally required.

MYTH #2 – I don’t need a lawyer to get a divorce in New Jersey

NOT SO! – Sadly, many problems are created by individuals who try to “do it themselves,” and then later try to “get a better deal.” Unfortunately, once commitments are made, even if made without benefit of legal counsel, they in many, cases become binding, and effect the ultimate outcome, sometimes in drastic ways. The best time to consult an attorney is BEFORE you make any agreements which may depreciate your future rights.

MYTH # 3 – My spouse and I can use the same attorney for our divorce in New Jersey.

TERRIBLY WRONG! – As a divorcing couple, you and your spouse have opposing interests. Although some couples can amicably settle differences within the divorce context, the majority need representation to advise them of their rights, and to then assert those rights. An attorney who represents both sides, has a conflict of interest, which cannot be reconciled. Moreover, it is an ethical violation for one attorney to represent both sides in litigation such as a divorce proceeding.

MYTH # 4 – All lawyers are the same, the cheapest one will get the job done just as well as the more expensive one.

WRONG AGAIN! – As in any other service, you get what you pay for. The settlement you reach, or the result obtained at trial will effect your life for years to come. Choose your attorney, certainly not solely on the basis of price, but on reputation, skill, and knowledge.

MYTH #5 – Once I give my attorney the outline of my case, my job is done – he or she will do the rest.

ERROR! – In order for your interests to be properly represented, you MUST take an active role in the process. Your attorney cannot possibly know of problems that have come up, or issues that must be resolved unless you tell him or her. Keeping your attorney up to date on relevant information should be your first priority. During the process of the divorce action, there will be times, when your presence may be required in court, or you may have to complete paperwork for your attorney. This is your part in the process, and the more you cooperate, the better your representation will be.

MYTH #6 – Because my spouse was abusive towards me during the marriage, I am entitled to more of the marital assets.

NO! – Unfortunately, in most cases, marital fault is not considered as a basis for determining the distribution of marital assets, or an award of alimony.

MYTH #7 – All lawyers charge too much.

NOPE! – Most attorneys are hardworking individuals, who in many instances put their professional responsibilities before their personal lives. Much of the work that your attorney does for you is done behind the scenes, such as research, and preparation. Sound legal advice may save thousands of dollars later on, and is well worth the immediate price. While communication and cooperation is the key to success, you can keep the bill down by not barraging your attorney with minutia that he or she can do nothing about, or which is irrelevant to the case.


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