For Jersey City residents thinking of divorce, the first question is usually, “Do I need a divorce lawyer?” While the New Jersey court system recommends contacting a divorce lawyer before filing anything, not everyone needs a lawyer.
When looking at court forms, it is important to know that our state does not call divorce, divorce. Here, it is called dissolution, but the process of getting a dissolution is the same for traditional marriages, civil unions, and domestic partnerships.
Next, before filing, it is important to note that the court will not give legal advice. This means the court will not tell filers whether to file, what will happen if one makes certain arguments, how to make arguments, or even the potential issues that will come up after one files. Until before a judge, filers cannot speak to the judge, and the court cannot change an order issued by a judge, which is why it is so important to make sure one is prepared before coming into court.
Even if both parties agree on all the terms of a divorce, it still may be wise to consult counsel. A lawyer can make sure that the parties have not missed anything, and do the actual divorce filing for the couple. This will ensure that when the parties are before the judge, no new issues come up, and that the dissolution happens when the parties want it to happen and in the way they want it to happen.
If one does not contact an attorney and chooses to file alone (pro se), it is important to know what to expect. First, the court does not give any special treatment to filers without an attorney. All filers are expected to follow the Rules of the Court, but the court can explain and answer general questions about how the court works and filing requirements. They can even give filers sample forms and provide guidance on how to fill out the forms.
As readers can see, filing for divorce, or even deciding to file for divorce, is a difficult choice and process. Working through the legal system can make the situation much worse and more difficult. This is why New Jersey courts recommend those considering filing for divorce to seek counsel.