Your life is what you make of it, and your relationships are a reflection of it. Some will be lasting like the Milky Way. Some will only last as long as a Milky Way bar. And then comes the movie.
Today’s divorce movie is A Marriage Story, directed by Noah Baumbach and starring Scarlett Johansson, Adam Driver, Laura Dern, Alan Alda and Ray Liotta.
Guess the role Ray Liotta plays in this one? The typical divorce lawyer that gives the rest a bad name. “I charge $950 an hour,” Liotta’s character says in A Marriage Story. “Ted is $400. If you have a stupid question, you call Ted.”
“Charming,” as Bette Davis once said. “Charming.”
Thankfully, not all divorce lawyers are jerks like Ray Liotta’s character. But be warned, some are. A quick way to identify their nature is by how they conduct themselves on social media. It’s easy to spot a jerk, and the last thing you want is to have that kind of person represent you. Check references and read comments.
Although most lawyers’ fees at the Jersey Shore are not in the $450-$950 range, it may feel like they are by the end of the whole process. An average divorce can run upwards of $25k. And that’s an average.
What’s nice to know is that there are options. There’s the Divorce Center, a $499 resource that processes the paperwork for you if your divorce is simple. Or pay nothing by visiting your local law library to fill out the paperwork yourself. The Legal Services of New Jersey offers a self-help guide to walk you through the steps.
Neither DIY option provides legal advice, of course.
“In some cases, it’s fine to handle a divorce yourself. But, when children or a home is involved, it’s not a simple divorce anymore,” comments Jonathan Petro, Managing Partner of Toms River, NJ-based Carluccio, Leone, Dimon, Doyle & Sacks. He adds, “An attorney can guide you through the process because it’s going to be much more complicated.”
Mediation is also a growing trend to help couples come to terms with their divorce. One lawyer facilitates the discussion between both parties and provides a write-up of the agreement to the participants.
“If parties make up their own agreement, they are more likely to follow it,” says Petro. It’s still advisable for both parties to have their own attorney representation to ensure that their individual requirements are being met.
One easy way to keep costs down in a divorce is for couples to privately discuss issues such as parenting time before getting a legal team involved. Petro adds, “Having conversations with themselves is the first step. I encourage communications. You shouldn’t need a lawyer to schedule family time.”
A Business Dissolution
One important thing to keep in mind is that in the eyes of the court, your divorce is the same as a business dissolution. There’s no emotion, no blame. Just keep your head held high and get the job done.
Remember, life is a learning experience. Be sure to learn from them so that only the healthy ones repeat.
Until next time… Peace.