the 7 Myths of Divorce
MYTH #1 - I have to be
separated for 18 months before I file for divorce.
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.
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.
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
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