Top 5 Topics You Need to Address With Your Divorce Attorney
Key Concepts you can Discuss with the Talented Team of Attorneys at Bronzino Law Firm.
You and your partner have decided to move forward with your divorce, and you are about to meet with your attorney for the first time. There are 5 key elements that you need to include in that discussion.
To be successful, your divorce attorney needs to know what the big picture looks like. What are your expectations? How would you like to proceed? What are your needs? Many of these things cannot be determined until you have provided all of the information necessary to build your case. Remember, the better prepared you are, the fewer hours you will be billed while your attorney searches for information you could have easily provided in the beginning. Consider it an investment of time that will pay dividends in the end.
TOPIC ONE: FINANCIAL INFORMATION
This topic has several branches. The first is employment: do both of you work? How much do you earn? Be sure to provide the 4 most recent pay stubs or direct deposit notices from you both. Tax returns are another great help in determining the finances of the household. Include all assets such as boats, cars, jewelry, heirlooms, the marital home, vacation home or timeshare, recreational vehicle, and other real estate, along with inherited money or land, retirement accounts, business accounts, and investment accounts with their estimated values. If assets are important, debts are just as well. All debts, including credit cards, college loans, mortgages, personal loans, outstanding tax debt, or any other kind of loan or debt owed by an individual or the household.
TOPIC TWO: SPOUSAL SUPPORT (ALIMONY)
There is no formula to determine the payment of alimony, which is why the above information is vital in deciding if or how much alimony will be paid. Some of the things the court analyzes are the length of the marriage, the need for financial support by one of the parties, the ability to pay support, the level of education if one spouse gave up a career to take care of the children, and what their possible earnings could have been. “Permanent Alimony” does not exist in New Jersey. Typically, a former spouse will receive alimony for the same length as the marriage lasted, but this is not always the case. If the primary caretaker of the children is the recipient of support, it may continue longer or if the former spouse or a child has a chronic illness.
TOPIC THREE: CHILD CUSTODY and SUPPORT
There are two kinds of custody: legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody considers all of the decisions made for a minor child: schooling, medical assistance schooling, religious-related aspects, and extracurricular activities. It is typical for parents to have shared legal custody as they make the decisions for the child jointly. Primary physical custody is with whom the child spends most of their time. Shared physical custody is a possibility, where each parent would spend the same amount of time with the child (one week on, one week off), but that is only possible when both residences are near the child’s school. There are many factors taken into account to determine custody. They include the mental and physical health of the parents, the level of cooperation between the parents, the stability of the home environment, and many others.
Child support is another issue that can be extremely complicated. Part of the decision to set up child support is determined by three kinds of expenditures: fixed, controlled, and variable. When the child is not residing in the home, expenses such as rent, electricity, water, etc., are attributed to the fixed expenses. Controlled expenses are incurred with the primary caregiver and include clothing, personal care, entertainment, etc. Variable expenses are counted only when the child is with either parent, covering expenses such as food and transportation. To devise a balanced plan, the judge must have all of this information.
TOPIC FOUR: DIVORCE OPTIONS
There are several alternative divorce options which you and your spouse can consider. They are negotiation, mediation, collaborative divorce, and arbitration. Negotiation is the loosest of the four in format and guidelines. All of the decisions are in the hands of the spouses. Mediation is done by way of a mediator who helps negotiate through the divorce agreement. A collaborative divorce is creating a divorce agreement between the spouses, the attorneys, child custody specialists, financial advisors, and more. Finally, arbitration is the least flexible in that once the arbitrator has decided, it is legally binding. The court will often request that couples go through a mediation process before taking their case to court. Knowing how willing your attorney will be to go to court is also important.
TOPIC FIVE: FEES AND RETAINERS
The average cost for a divorce in New Jersey runs between $5,500 and $24,100. The least expensive divorce has little to no disputes regarding the details of the divorce, while at the top of the scale, there are many disputes. The average divorce takes approximately 18 months to transpire. The quickest and least expensive divorce is a no-contest where the couple works out everything before submitting the request for a divorce. There are different kinds of fees, such as hourly fees, flat fees, legal costs, and retainers. Some attorneys choose to charge a flat fee frequently when the client has already gone through mediation, and there are few details to finesse. A retainer is a kind of deposit you make when the case begins, and the lawyer uses it to cover their fees and expenses. Few people enjoy talking about money, but it is necessary to maintain a realistic budget and keep costs in mind as the process continues.
Contact a Brick, NJ Attorney About Your Divorce Consultation Today
It seems like a lot to have to discuss right off the bat but to find a good fit lawyer, you need to give them an overall picture of your needs. At Bronzino Law Firm, family law is our passion, and we want to be there for you. Divorce is a multi-faceted process that can be overwhelming when you are alone.
We can walk you through, step by step, while listening to your unique needs. We are ready to serve and often assist clients in places throughout Monmouth and Ocean County, NJ, like Oakhurst, Neptune, Sea Bright, Asbury Park, Manahawkin, Toms River, Long Beach Township, and Ocean Township.
Are you thinking about getting a divorce? Do you know someone who is? Call us at (732) 812-3102 to make an appointment today.