Deciding to divorce a spouse is a huge, life-altering decision. It affects not just you and your spouse but your children, your extended family, friends and even your business partners or employer. Regardless of the reasons behind why your marriage broke down, surprisingly few people are fully aware of the divorce process and all of the major decisions they will need to make once they decide to proceed. This is why the family law attorneys at the Micklin Law Group in Nutley and Montclair New Jersey offer a unique service: Divorce Consulting.
We help you understand not just the divorce process but also all of the elements of the decisions you’ll need to make, the documents and records you will have to collect, what kind of property settlement is in your best interests, and questions around custody, visitation and financial support of your children.
A Unique Approach to Saving you Money
At the Micklin Law Group, attorney Brad Micklin offers a unique consultative service which may be a good way for some clients to start the divorce process without incurring significant fees. Rather than immediately becoming your “attorney of record,” we begin by working as your divorce consultant. For example, we tell you what documents are necessary, and how to complete them. We review the ones that you complete and instruct you on how to begin the process.
We Jump In When It Makes Financial Sense
Then, as your case progresses, we continue to work in this capacity until you determine that you need us to step in and handle the entire case. Up to that time, we continue to provide the forms and documents you need, review what is received and advise you about what will happen at any approaching court appearances. We offer this service because we realize that many people have trouble affording an attorney to handle their divorce case regardless of their income. Many have children to support, significant bills and credit card payments and other financial obligations that impact their ability to pay legal fees.
We are Here for You Every Step of the Way
There are many steps in the beginning of a divorce proceeding that can be costly yet are not very significant. We will advise you on how to handle and address those issues, what documents are required, how you go about completing the documents and what to expect next. This approach can save you thousands of dollars which is better spent, if at all, later in the divorce when things get more complicated.
Following is additional information on another aspect of Divorce Consulting: working with you months before you actually decide to file for divorce, to ensure all aspects of your life are in order and that you are fully prepared when you do decide to proceed with your divorce. This is yet another way we can ultimately save you money on legal fees.
Divorce Consulting is Different than Consulting with a Divorce Lawyer
The firm’s unique divorce consulting services are conducted with Brad Micklin who has decades of experience as a New Jersey divorce attorney. He tailors the service specifically for people who are fairly certain they are going to proceed with a divorce. They know that without planning in advance they may end up in a complicated tangle of legal and financial decisions. Divorce consulting offers those likely to split in the future, access to a highly regarded, well respected lawyer to run different scenarios and what-if analysis.
Our Divorce Consulting service really helps when there are questions regarding children, child support, and spousal maintenance. Brad provides divorce consulting clients information and knowledge about the process, and advance planning and strategic advice to help you sort through your goals for the outcome of a potential divorce.
By contrast, during an initial consultation to hire Brad as your divorce lawyer, the meeting is typically one hour or less. No legal advice specifically tied to your situation can be offered and there is time for only a minimal discussion about custody issues and your financial position. Technically, under bar association rules, you are not a client during an initial consultation, until you have signed a retainer agreement. So, as you can see, divorce consulting is very different.
Key Aspects of Divorce Consulting in New Jersey
If you hire Brad Micklin to serve as your divorce consultant, he will work with you on five specific areas over the course of six months to one year; maybe longer.
An Overall Assessment of Your Situation
During the assessment, we cover everything from the basics like whether it makes sense for you to open a new, individual bank account and rent a post office or safe deposit box, to more important, complicated matters including:
- Gather information related to your job, business or professional practice
- Review past years’ tax returns, assets and liabilities from mortgages to loans and credit cards
- Identify total assets including second homes, artwork, and other collectibles
- Review investment accounts, retirement plans and insurance coverage
- Put all of this in the context of spousal and child support you’ll be likely to pay or receive
Just as important, we help you focus on what you want with respect to your children: Do you want sole custody, joint custody, or co-parenting? What level of visitation and vacation time will you want to have with your children?
Explaining the Divorce Process
State laws governing divorce in New Jersey are very complex. When doing pre-divorce consulting, we help you understand the entire process from whether it is strategically beneficial to file first, what discovery entails, temporary hearings, mediation, retaining third-party experts such as forensic accountants, depositions, the settlement and custody negotiations, mediation, and a trial if it becomes necessary.
We will have you complete a financial disclosure form so we can discuss how your financial situation will affect the settlement outcome and help you understand how to achieve your financial goals for the next phase of your life. Just as important, we review with you the likely costs associated with each component of the divorce process.
How To: Understand Our Divorce Consulting Services
Conduct a Thorough Tax and Financial Review
Regardless of your level of income, a divorce can have an enormous financial impact. Divorce consulting will put you on top of everything you’ll need when we file on your behalf:
- Securing financial documents
- Discussing the tax implications of your divorce
- Determining how to document pre-marital assets
- Reviewing your options for real estate property whether it is the marital home, a vacation home, or investment properties
- Providing information and advice on businesses or professional practices you own or in which you may have a financial interest
- Explaining how to plan a post-separation budget including what you are likely to be paying or receiving in spousal maintenance and child support
- Determining whether any outside advisors or experts will be needed, including financial neutrals or parenting consultants, and how to select those appropriate for your situation
Discussing Your Options for the Children
Historically, the mother was named custodial parent of any children in the marriage. Today, though, judges are listening to arguments made by fathers who want to be the custodial parent, or at least share custody. We will go through each element:
- Custody, joint custody and co-parenting
- Custody evaluation and what the court will be looking at
- Levels of child support payments
- The value of a parenting coach
Preparing If Your Spouse Plays Games During a New Jersey Divorce
As part of the divorce counseling we do for people, we review with you the possible adverse tactical games and maneuvers your spouse may try playing or using on you. Some soon-to-be ex-spouses will do things in a divorce that you will have to contend with later such as failing to pay their share of credit card bills or loans and lines of credit that you incurred as a couple, or worse yet, attempting to hide assets.
Our divorce consulting provides you with strategies you can employ that will minimize the financial burden and the emotional toll their maneuvering may have on you, your life and your children. If it will help you, we can provide referrals to therapists trained and experienced in helping people deal with the pain of even a smooth divorce.
Divorce Consulting Means No Obligations
Divorce consulting is a relatively new concept in New Jersey. So, a lot of people are not aware they can work with a divorce consultant without having to hire a divorce lawyer. Working with a divorce consultant will allow you to be proactive and planful as you approach a possible divorce proceeding in the future.
The goal of this page was to provide a strategic overview of the firm’s divorce consulting services. Knowing each person is unique, we invite you to contact us with questions, 973.562.0100 in Nutley or, in Montclair, at 862.245.4620. You can also reach out to us through our Contact Form on our website.