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How Much Does A Divorce Cost in New Jersey?

how much does a divorce cost in nj

By Kristin M. Capalbo, Esq.

Getting divorced can be expensive. Here are some tips on how to keep costs down and budget accordingly.

How much will my divorce cost?

As a New Jersey divorce lawyer, I get that question a lot. While some expenses are straightforward (e.g., the fee to file your complaint with the court, an attorney’s hourly rate), predicting the total cost of a divorce often depends on five key factors.

  1. Do you and your spouse get along?

Just because you’re getting a divorce, it doesn’t necessarily mean you both can’t communicate about the terms of your separation. In some cases, litigation in court can’t be avoided. However, the vast majority are resolved by settlement agreement. The more you and your spouse can resolve issues amicably, the less you’ll spend on legal fees and court costs. If you can put your emotions aside and be open to compromise, you’re already ahead of the game!

  1. How much will it cost to hire an attorney?

Based on my personal experience, the average hourly rate of a matrimonial attorney typically ranges from $200 to $500, depending on location and experience. Most attorneys will request a retainer up front; its amount is usually based on the attorney’s hourly rate, number of hours the attorney anticipates he or she will spend on your case, and any potential costs paid from the retainer. Once the retainer is exhausted, you may be expected to pay an additional “replenishment” retainer. Prior to representing you, your attorney should provide a fee agreement outlining what expenses will be paid from your retainer and what you can expect to be billed for. Before you sign the dotted line, however, ask your attorney:

  1. Is Divorce Mediation in New Jersey a less expensive option?

Instead of hiring separate counsel, some couples choose to use one mediator to resolve their disputes. Divorce mediation can be an excellent alternative to conventional litigation; however, keep in mind that a mediator is not your attorney, and he or she cannot advocate for you. Also, in New Jersey, a mediator cannot prepare or file the paperwork needed to actually complete your divorce, so you will likely still need to retain a separate attorney. That being said, if you can settle your case in mediation and then retain an attorney to review and finalize the paperwork, it may still be more cost effective than the traditional divorce process.

  1. Do you need experts?

In addition to court costs, mediation costs, and attorneys’ fees, resolving your case may require expert opinions.

  1. Is it cheaper to stay together?

Believe it or not, many people stay married because the cost of a divorce is simply too prohibitive. The majority of couples are contributing two incomes to one household. Presumably, once divorced, you and your spouse will have the same amount of income coming in, with two roofs to support. Maintaining the same lifestyle you once enjoyed as a married couple may not be possible. Someone may have to get a second job to increase income or you both may have to downsize to reduce expenses.

 If a divorce is in your future, you should certainly discuss all possible costs and expenses with your spouse and a qualified New Jersey family lawyer before starting the process. In the majority of cases, if you’re willing to compromise and take your emotions out of the equation, the better off you will be financially.

This post is not legal advice and does not create a confidential attorney-client relationship. It is being offered for informational purposes only.

If you or a loved one is contemplating getting a divorce in New Jersey, mention this article to receive a free one hour divorce consultation with Ms. Capalbo

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