Arons & Solomon | March 4, 2021 | Family Law
On average, the cost of a divorce in New Jersey can exceed $12,000. It’s understandable that some individuals think it makes sense to search for an inexpensive divorce lawyer.
What’s wrong with cheap divorce lawyers? As the saying goes, you get what you pay for! Like other unwise cost-cutting choices, hiring a cheap divorce lawyer can cost you more in the long run.
A cheap divorce lawyer is probably trying to increase their client base and earn a living. And there is nothing wrong with that! However, an inexperienced or overworked attorney can make mistakes in your case. Deadlines might be missed or filings might be delayed.
Correcting these errors can cost you more money. Instead, look for a quality attorney and understand the ways in which you can reduce your own legal fees.
What Should You Pay for a New Jersey Family Lawyer?
Don’t use the average cost of divorce to evaluate the cost of your divorce. The total cost of divorce has to do with the hourly attorney fee you agree to and the total number of hours your attorney needs to work your case.
An attorney’s fee must be “reasonable,” and the reasonableness of a New Jersey attorney’s fee depends on:
- The time and labor required by the case
- The novelty and difficulty of the issues involved
- The skill required to perform the legal service properly
- The fee customarily charged in the locality for similar legal services
- The time limitations imposed by the client or the circumstances
- The experience, reputation, and ability of the lawyer performing the services
What do these factors mean in reality? Let’s look at a few of these factors and how they might impact the total cost of a divorce case.
Time Limitations Imposed by Client or Circumstances
Some cases, such as those where a client requests a lawyer to obtain a restraining order, must be handled quickly. To handle one case quickly, an attorney may need to set another case aside.
If you want a divorce based on adultery, but you need the attorney to engage a private investigator, and you want to be divorced before the holidays, you may have to pay a higher fee. Simply put, to get complicated things done quickly takes a lot of work and you are paying for an attorney’s work.
Experience, Reputation, and Ability
In addition to an attorney’s work, you are also paying for the likelihood of a successful outcome, because an attorney’s experience, reputation, and ability can increase your chances of getting what you want out of the divorce.
What does that mean? Your case is unique, but chances are a family law attorney with extensive experience has probably seen most of the issues involved in your case. Some issues that are commonly handled by experienced attorneys include:
- Substance abuse and how it impacts your divorce settlement in New Jersey
- How parental relocation affects custody in New Jersey
- How to enforce child support payments in New Jersey
Each of these situations will have its own particularities in your case, but an experienced attorney will have reliable strategies to deal with these issues.
How Can I Reduce My Legal Fees?
A compassionate family law attorney wants to work with you in a cost-effective manner. Your attorney will see your pay stubs and tax returns in many divorce cases and all child custody cases. They will know whether your financial situation makes their hourly rate affordable.
However, in the contract you sign at the beginning of your attorney-client relationship, you will agree to the attorney’s hourly rate. What can you do to reduce your legal fees? Here are a few things:
- Follow your attorney’s instructions to prepare for any court hearings
- Provide any relevant new information to your attorney in a timely manner, like if you move in with a romantic or domestic partner — cohabitation can impact alimony
- Review your billing statements as you receive them for any errors
Your attorney can discuss with you whether other strategies, like a custody evaluation, might also save money for you.