When you decide to divorce, there are important decisions to be made about things like child custody, parenting time, child support, college costs for children, alimony, and division of marital assets and debts.
The most common misconception I hear is that divorce means going to court and having a judge make these decisions. Especially when we consider that divorce is often portrayed in the media as angry court battles.
The overwhelming majority of divorce cases in New Jersey, however, are actually settled by mutual agreement. In fact, it’s not uncommon to never even see the judge assigned to your case, except at the very end when the judge signs your Judgement of Divorce.
While you do need a judge to sign the Judgment of Divorce to legally dissolve your marriage, you don’t need to have a judge make actual decisions in your divorce. For instance, you don’t need the court to decide where your children will live, how much parenting time you will have with your children, how much child support or alimony you will pay or receive, or how your assets and debts will be divided.
Rather, such decisions are most often spelled out in a written contract, often called a Marital Settlement Agreement. This agreement becomes part of the Judgment of Divorce granted by the court. Marital Settlement Agreements often result from negotiations between spouses with input and advice from their lawyers.
It is very important to have a competent divorce and family lawyer help you reach a Marital Settlement Agreement and draft it for you. This way, you’re not likely to overlook important issues that could cause you to have to go to court after the divorce.
And when you have children, it’s generally much better for them when you can agree on how they will be raised without involving the court. Out-of-court negotiation is generally quicker and much less expensive than having a judge make decisions for you.
So, I believe I owe it to clients to help them successfully achieve customized Marital Settlement Agreements, with legal, financial, and tax ramifications in mind. Unlike lawyers who default to fighting in court, I focus on settlement. This helps you move forward emotionally, financially, and legally protected with peace of mind and confidence in your future.
In the meantime, you can save money and time with this step-by-step plan to help you reach a divorce agreement with your spouse.
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