Don’t try to keep up with the Joneses

A big part of our job as attorneys is managing a client’s expectations and overcoming the perceptions they have about the divorce/separation process. It is all too frequent that we hear “my friend got way more child support than that!” or “why do I have to pay alimony when my cousin didn’t have to pay a dime?”

As you consider engaging in litigation or find yourself in the midst of the process, it is important to understand that the dissolution of every relationship will be different, so there is no “keeping up with the Joneses” when it comes to settlement agreements or litigation. Realistic information and expectations should come not from celebrities and social media but from an experienced attorney familiar with the unique details of your situation.

When people talk or write about how their own case has settled, there can be a distinct motivation to sensationalize the story or downplay the drama. What this all turns into is an inflated and often over-simplified retelling of an extremely complex situation.

One must also take into account how fact-specific settlements or judgments relating to custody/parenting time, child support, alimony and equitable distribution can be. Child support, for example, is generally determined by the Child Support Guidelines, which is a mathematical formula heavily dependent on the parents’ gross weekly income. Child support for a family of 4 with a combined gross weekly income of $2,000.00 is going to look a lot different than child support for a family of 4 with a combined gross weekly income of $4,000.00. The same can be said for the calculation of alimony, which considers, amongst other factors, the parties’ standard of living during the marriage.

This is why it can be a mistake to set your expectations and goals based on what you read or hear about someone else’s separation or divorce. Of course there are lessons to be learned by exploring how other people deal with certain issues and how they are resolved – and certainly comfort in sharing “war stories” – but the best way to truly understand what will happen in your case is to talk about it with an attorney.

At Jacobs Berger, LLC, we know that there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to ending your relationship; every case is different. We can help you determine how you may want to approach every aspect of your case in order to pursue your individual goals. We can explain how New Jersey laws impact certain aspects of your settlement. We can also provide critical support and resources that may help you and your partner avoid contentious courtroom battles if possible. Mediation may be a viable alternative.

If you are ready to learn more about your options – regardless of where you are in the process – we encourage you to schedule a consultation today to discover more about how we may be able to help.

About the Author:

Sarah Jacobs is dedicated to protecting the interests of clients in family law proceedings. Certified by the Supreme Court of New Jersey as a Matrimonial Law Attorney, and Qualified as a Mediator, Sarah possesses close to 15 years of experience practicing law throughout the State of New Jersey. Together with partner Jamie N. Berger, Esq. their boutique Morristown family law firm is managed with the goal of providing high-quality service tailored to each client's individual needs. In her capacity as both a family law mediator and litigator, Sarah works with negotiation-minded clients in a cooperative setting. She is also a skilled litigator with the knowledge needed to take even the most complex cases to court, if necessary.

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