In New Jersey courts, you have the option to hire an attorney for legal representation or you can present your case yourself. During your divorce, you might feel tempted to represent yourself. You might want to save money by not paying for a lawyer or think you are a talented negotiator.
However, self-representing in court is a huge risk. It is your duty to learn the law and understand what you are negotiating and agreeing to. Working with an attorney will help you navigate the complicated court system and avoid doing irreparable harm to your case.
1. You need to know and follow the strict court rules.
Lawsuits have timing requirements. You have a short period of time to file a response after you get the divorce petition.
Even if you have no experience, the judge holds you to the same standards as a lawyer. Do not expect any special treatment or leeway in court.
2. Reaching a fair divorce settlement is difficult.
You may incorrectly believe that the settlement terms of your divorce are fair. At the time you sign it, the agreement may seem fine. Later, you might realize that the terms are not what you really wanted. The court will generally uphold your divorce settlement, so having an attorney advocate for your rights and spot potential issues is crucial.
3. Your emotions can cloud your arguments.
The circumstances surrounding your divorce might affect your judgment and thinking during court proceedings. If you represent yourself, you run the risk of becoming nervous and defensive under pressure. Making emotional arguments is not a good substitute for good legal strategy.
Overall, hiring an attorney ensures protection of your interests, even if you do not technically need legal representation.