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When Is the Best Time to Contact a Divorce Lawyer

By Sarah Jacobs, Esq.

For most people, thinking about divorce brings up a lot of questions (and a lot of feelings), but the biggest question right out of the gate might be this: 

When is it time to talk to a divorce lawyer? 

While divorce can be a complex and daunting time for many people, working with an experienced divorce lawyer can help de-stress the process. Divorce attorneys know the ins and outs of the divorce process and can provide valuable insights and advice long before divorce proceedings occur. A divorce attorney who is also focused on your goals and helping you see how to achieve them, with just the right balance of perspective, may be the thing you didn’t know you were actually looking for. 

The decisions you make now can impact how your potential divorce process will go later down the road. Take, for example, your finances. Do you know what would happen if you increase your savings to get ahead of living separately or if you move money between accounts? Do you know how debt you acquire today could impact you at the time of divorce? You may think you’re making the right choice, but without information, you may not know. 

By taking the time to meet with a divorce lawyer and evaluate your options, you can minimize stress and make strategic decisions based on what’s suitable for you and your family. 

When you’re thinking about separation

Sometimes people need time apart but aren’t yet ready to divorce. When this happens, spouses can struggle with how to divide responsibilities like financial obligations and child custody.

While some states, such as New York, recognize legal separation as a formal status, New Jersey doesn’t recognize separated spouses through a formalized process. This can create its own complications—moving out, for example, can have consequences – and result in difficulties with custody or equitable distribution of assets. 

A family law practice or divorce attorney can still help create agreements that clarify rights and responsibilities during the separation period and ensure that your children, financial interests, and assets are protected, both now and in the future.

When you’re thinking about divorce

Divorce brings significant change to your life, and many aspects can be overwhelming. If you’re thinking about divorce, it’s normal to wonder about your options and what the overall process might look like for you. 

Just like every family is different, every divorce is different as well. That’s why it’s so helpful to speak with a divorce lawyer when you’re considering the next steps, even if you’re not sure. 

You may have questions about timing, mediation, or selling or keeping your home. You might want to understand about the bonus you’re getting next month, or what the best way to file your taxes might be. From the big to the small, what comes next matters, and it is helpful to have someone explain how it fits your unique circumstances.

Your attorney can provide sound legal advice and perspective, but they can also walk you through what the process might look like—and what specifics to consider.

By working with a divorce lawyer, you can create a successful and solid foundation for your future and build a plan that minimizes stress for your family. An experienced NJ divorce attorney can help you review your options and devise a plan that best fits your needs and the needs of your family.

If your spouse has filed for divorce

Divorce affects your financial future and your family’s future, so it’s essential to meet with a divorce lawyer to plan the best path forward if your spouse files for divorce. 

There are many reasons for this. Working with an attorney helps you protect your rights during a divorce. Even if your divorce is amicable, your attorney can ensure you understand the options ahead of you. Your attorney also plays an important role in helping you determine your goals, priorities, and coming up with a legal strategy that reflects them. 

Another aspect to consider is the role timelines play in your divorce. In New Jersey, you have 35 days to respond to a divorce complaint. If you don’t respond within this timeline, your spouse may be granted a divorce by default. While divorce by default can be a strategy for some couples, it should not be pursued without experienced legal counsel beforehand. Doing so can lead to an unsatisfactory divorce settlement and costly legal expenses later if you need to have the judgment vacated. 

When you’re dissatisfied with your current lawyer

If you’re already in the middle of your divorce but feeling unhappy or dissatisfied with your legal team, we want to assure you: it’s absolutely okay to seek out a new attorney. You don’t need to feel stuck just because you’ve worked with them up to this point. 

Before you terminate your service with your current attorney, though, secure new representation. You don’t want to be dealing with legal processes without an attorney by your side. Take the time to review why you’re unhappy with your current attorney, as well as gather any helpful information before consulting with a new attorney: 

  • Where are you in the process? 
  • What are the upcoming deadlines for your case? 
  • Have there been any obstacles in your divorce process thus far?

Moreover, consider the reasons why you’re looking for a new attorney:

  • What challenges did you have with your current attorney? 
  • What are you looking for in a new attorney? 
  • What would you like to see done differently with your new attorney?

Be mindful that changing attorneys during your divorce may incur additional legal fees and delay your divorce timeline—but depending on your goals, this may be a small price to pay for having an attorney you feel supported by.  

The divorce process is highly personal, and only you can know when it’s right to contact a divorce lawyer. The most important thing to keep in mind is that the right attorney can make the process less intimidating, less overwhelming, and less stressful—and starting your search early can help you find the right attorney for your needs.

Contact Our Morristown Attorneys Today

At Jacobs Berger, our attorneys are experienced in protecting our clients across Madison, Randolph, Tewksbury, Morristown, and the greater Morris County area in all family law-related issues.

To schedule a strategic planning session with one of our experienced team members regarding your particular case, please contact us online or through our Morristown, NJ office at (973) 354-4506.