Top 7 Misconceptions in Divorce

1.  My divorce is uncontested, I don’t need a Marital Settlement Agreement.

If you have children, assets (property, bank accounts, etc.) or there will be an exchange of monies at the conclusion of your divorce, such as alimony and child support, it is absolutely recommended that you enter into a marital settlement agreement with your soon to be ex. Without a formal Marital Settlement Agreement defining each parties’ obligations, the enforcement of verbal terms of an agreement will be next to impossible. Including these terms in a settlement agreement does not make your case “contested.” It simply protects you and your family at the conclusion of your divorce from future enforcement issues.

  2.  We have only been married for five years, our divorce is simple.

Just because you have been married for “only” five years, does not mean that your divorce will be simple.  You have to consider what has happened over the course of those five years.  Did you buy a house? Did you have children? Did you start a business? These and other types of events, which occur during your marriage, regardless of its length, must still be address and resolved at the conclusion of your divorce.

  3.  I heard every case goes to trial.

In New Jersey, a divorce trial occurs in the rarest of situations. However, they do occur.  You should have the guidance of an experienced matrimonial attorney in the event you and your spouse are not able to reach a settlement on all terms.

  4.  I’ve been told since I expect to receive alimony, I am not entitled to child support.

Alimony and child support are two entirely different types of support. Alimony is for the support of the dependent spouse and child support is quite literally for the support of children. How much alimony is going to be paid from one spouse to the other must be determined first, before child support is set. This is because child support is based upon each parent’s net available income.

  5.  I don’t need an attorney to finalize my divorce.

Yes. An attorney will be able to guide you through the divorce process, including the court system, with which they are intimately familiar.  The attorney will be able to advise on your rights and responsibilities under the law. And, ultimately, your attorney will draft a full settlement agreement or proceed with you to trial, to secure a resolution which addresses all of your interests, achieving the best possible outcome for you and your family.

  6.  My spouse hired a real shark, must I do the same?

No. Hiring an attorney who advertises themselves as “aggressive” does not mean they are better suited then another for your case. It means, rather, they are willing to litigate, voraciously, all aspects of your divorce. This may or may not be the way to reach a resolution for your family. Most often, this means that your divorce will cost more at its conclusion as litigation fees may spiral out of control. Hiring an attorney who is practical, knows the law, and sets your expectations from the outset, will have the equal if not superior ability to secure a favorable resolution on your behalf.

  7.  I have a signed agreement from mediation, so I am already divorced.

You are not divorced until such time as a judge enters a Final Judgment of Divorce declaring same. While mediation is a great way to work through your differences and perhaps come to an agreement regarding the terms and conditions that will control your divorce, a mediator does not have the ability to assist you in securing a Final Judgment of Divorce and thereby finalizing your divorce.  In order to finalize your divorce, you must be able to file a Complaint for Divorce, and ultimately secure an hearing date to finalize your divorce proceedings.  Until that happens, you are not formally divorced.

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