FAQ

Your Initial Consultation

How Much Does a Consultation Cost?

Almost all consultations at our firm are charged as a flat fee at the hourly rate of the attorney conducting the consultation (ranging from $275 to $395, depending on the attorney).  If you retain the firm, the amount you paid for your first consultation will be credited back to you on your first full month’s invoice.  Thus, if you become a client of the firm, the consultation becomes retroactively “free.”

 If you meet with us but choose not to retain (whether it is because you decided not to pursue a case at that time or ultimately chose to retain a different firm), you simply paid for the hour of time and legal advice you received.

If an additional attorney from our team participates in your consultation (which is common) you are not charged for that additional attorney.  We take a team approach to most of our cases and we believe it is important for you to meet the team members most likely to work on your matter in the event you ultimately retain the firm.

There are two exceptions to our policy:

  • Our mediation consultations are treated differently than all others. Our mediation consultations are approximately 30 minutes in length, are conducted by phone with both parties and are free of charge.  The purpose of a mediation consultation is not to give legal advice (as we need to maintain a neutral role between you and the other party), but rather to explain and answer your questions regarding the mediation process.  In the event you retain an attorney from our firm to mediate your case, that attorney will mediate your matter at a reduced hourly rate used only for our mediation services. 
  • We provide free initial consultations to New Jersey State Troopers.
Why Don’t You Give “Free Consultations” Like Some Other Firms Do?

We understand that some other firms offer free consultations in an effort to entice as many potential clients as possible to speak with them.  Our consultations are not sales meetings or “meet and greets.”  They are a full hour of time, legal advice and strategy suggestions provided to you by one or more attorneys. 

We treat our consultations (or “case assessments,” as we also call them) in a manner that is fair to our firm, attorneys and current paying clients while also providing a courtesy to potential clients who are serious about retaining legal representation.

If you retain the firm, the amount you paid for your first consultation will be credited back to you on your first full month’s invoice.  Thus, if you become a client of the firm, the consultation becomes retroactively “free.”  If you meet with us but choose not to retain (whether it is because you decided not to pursue a case at that time or ultimately chose to retain a different firm), you simply paid for the hour of time and legal advice you received.

To learn more, we encourage you to read our blog article titled, “Why We Don’t Give Free Consultations (And Why You Shouldn’t Want Us To)”.

Do I Have to Come into the Office for My Consultation?

We can conduct your consultation via Zoom, telephone or in person.  However, our in-person consultations continue to be suspended due to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

How Can I Prepare for My Initial Divorce Consultation?

Retaining Our Services

Can My Spouse and I Use the Same Divorce Attorney? We are on Good Terms and We Want to Save Money.

No, attorneys are ethically prohibited from representing both parties in a divorce or any other family law matter.  It does not matter whether the parties are amicable.   For a more detailed answer, please read our blog article titled “Can My Spouse and I Use the Same Attorney?”

One way two spouses can both utilize the services of our firm and save considerable money on their matter is to retain one of our attorneys as a mediator rather than as an attorney.  You can learn more about our firm’s mediation services by clicking here.

Appeals

How Much Time Do I Have to Appeal an Order?

You generally have 45 days to appeal a final order.  The time limit is longer, but more complicated, for an appeal of an order issued in a case that is still proceeding.  This type of appeal is known as an interlocutory appeal.  Interlocutory appeals are permitted to be filed under very limited circumstances. 

The appeal process is very complex and can be very confusing.  If you think you may want to appeal an order issued in your case, do not let any time pass before contacting to schedule a consultation to discuss your case history and the problematic order issued by the Court. 

We encourage you to read our blog article titled, “Thinking About Appealing?  Think Fast!”

Emotional Well-Being

How Do We Tell Our Children About the Divorce?

Regardless of whether your children are teenagers or toddlers, the most difficult part of the divorce process is telling them that their parents are getting a divorce.  To minimize any adverse emotional impact this conversation may have on your child(ren), we suggest you heed the advice in our blog titled, “How to Tell Your Children About Divorce.”  We also encourage you to review the list of helpful books we purchase for our clients in the Recommended Reading section.

Child Support

How is Child Support Calculated in New Jersey?

For the majority of families, child support is calculated in accordance with the New Jersey Child Support Guidelines.  There are exceptions to this for families who have a higher income than the guidelines are designed to include, and for a variety of other special circumstances. 

To learn more, we encourage you to read our website’s section on Child Support as well as the following blog articles:

Does Child Support Change if the Parenting Time Schedule Changes?

A change in custody or even in the amount of overnights a child spends with each parent usually warrants a recalculation of child support.  (We say “usually” because family law is extremely fact-sensitive.)  You can read more about this in our blog article titled “If Your Child’s Living Arrangements Have Changed Since the Divorce, So Might Your Child Support.”

Collaborative Divorce

What is a Collaborative Divorce?

Collaborative Divorce is a cooperative process in which both parties and their Collaboratively trained lawyers agree at the onset not to seek court intervention.  The crux of Collaborative law is that by removing the threat of going to court, parties can interact more openly and efficiently to realize results with less animosity toward each other.  The threat of litigation is formally removed with a contract signed by you, your spouse and the Collaborative law professionals involved in your case.  This contract is called a “Participation Agreement.”  

For further information, we encourage you to read our blog articles titled:

We also recommend the book The Collaborative Way to Divorce.  It is included on the Recommended Reading page of books we purchase for our clients. 

Custody & Parenting Time

Does My Ex Still Get Parenting Time if They Are Not Paying Child Support?

Absolutely! The children’s right to have a relationship with their other parent is not a sword in a fight for unpaid child support. If you are having an issue receiving child support, ask the court for help. Do not resort to improper self-help by withholding parenting time. Doing so would be a violation of what is likely an agreement between you and the other parent or a court order that provides for parenting time. This is not a situation where you “fight fire with fire.”

In fact, never withhold or interfere with the other parent’s parenting time unless you have justified concerns for your child(ren)’s safety or well-being. If you do, then that’s a different issue, and you should immediately speak with your attorney about taking action to protect the child(ren).

Do not put yourself in a position where you are arguing that your ex is in violation of the court order for failure to pay child support while you are in violation of a court order (or your agreement) for interfering with your ex’s parenting time. The courts do not take child support arrears lightly, but they also very much dislike interference with parenting time.

Divorce

What if I Do Not Agree to a Divorce?

You do not have to agree to a divorce, but you would accomplish nothing positive by fighting, resisting or ignoring it.  Your spouse can essentially get a divorce with or without your involvement or input.  If you refuse to meaningfully participate in your divorce, a court will grant a divorce by default.  The terms will be largely determined by whatever  your spouse requests in your absence.  For more information on why it is foolish to refuse to agree to a divorce, please read our blog article entitled, “What if I Don’t Agree to a Divorce?”

Mediation

How Do We Know if Mediation is the Right Choice for Us?

We encourage you to read our blog article titled, “Are you a Good Candidate for Mediation?”

How Much Does a Mediation Consultation Cost?

Our mediation consultations are treated differently than all others.  They are approximately 30 minutes in length, are conducted by phone with both parties and are free of charge.  The purpose of a mediation consultation is not for us to give legal advice, but rather to explain and answer your questions regarding the mediation process.  In the event you retain an attorney from our firm to mediate your case, that attorney will mediate your matter at a reduced hourly rate used only for our mediation services. 

What Does Mediation Cost?

Mediators charge hourly rates and often require a retainer payment before the process can begin.  The total cost of your mediation experience depends on the hourly rate of your mediator and the amount of time used for your case, whether it is spent in mediation sessions, drafting your agreement or communicating with you by phone, letter or email. 

If I Have to Pay for a Mediator, How is it Cheaper Than Negotiating Through the Court Process or Directly With My Spouse?

Mediation is often the quickest and most cost-effective way to settle your case for many reasons.  It forces all parties to come together and negotiate issues in real time.  The mediator is there to preserve decorum and fairness (e.g., no one is allowed to talk over each other, everyone gets time to express their point of view, etc.).  The mediator is also there to keep track of the proposals and ensures that there is no backtracking, which is often a frustrating part of negotiating if there is no third party to officiate the negotiations.

How Many Sessions Will it Take to Settle My Case?

There is no way to predict how many mediation sessions it will take to settle your case.  The number of sessions you will need depends on many variables out of the mediator’s control, such as the outstanding issues involved, the complexity of the finances involved, whether custody is disputed, the opposing positions on all issues, the personalities involved, the cooperation of both parties, etc.

The purpose of the first session is to identify what the issues in the case will be and what work will have to be done to resolve those issues.  For example, parties to a divorce may need an appraisal to be prepared to negotiate for a piece of property or on a piece of jewelry.  There may also need to be a document exchange (such as retirement account information, bank statements, credit card statements, etc.)  so that each party has a comfort level with the finances of the marriage.  The second session is usually when the negotiations can really start in earnest (after all the prep work is completed following the first session). 

It is not uncommon for three or more sessions to be required before the case is settled.  However, some cases are limited to very few issues and involve two people who are dedicated to resolving them all amicably.  Those can often be resolved much faster. 

I Already Filed a Complaint for Divorce. Can We Still Go to Mediation?

Yes.  Even though a Complaint has been filed in your matter, you still can go to mediation with the other party. 

My Spouse and I Want to Start Mediation. How Do We Begin?

For a step-by-step guide on how to begin the mediation process, please read our blog titled, “How to Begin the Mediation Process.”

Prenuptial Agreements

We Don't Have Any Money. Should We Still Get a Prenup?

A prenuptial agreement can address not only money or assets couples have when they are just entering into their marriage, but the money or assets they may acquire through a variety of ways (earnings, gifts, inheritances, etc.) during their marriage.  Having said that, a prenuptial agreement is not simply about money.  It is about control of your future in the unfortunate event of divorce or death. 

For more information about how a prenuptial agreement can provide you with control over your financial future in the event of a divorce, read our blog article titled:  “We Don’t Have Any Money.  Should We Still Get a Prenup?” 

Are There Advantages to Having a Prenuptial Agreement Even if We Never Get Divorced and Remain Happily Married Forever?

Absolutely!  We encourage you to read our blog article titled, “How Having a Prenup Can Actually Be Good for Your Marriage.”

Pet Custody

We Cannot Agree on Who Will Keep Our Pet After Our Divorce. What Do We Do?

Custody of a pet is an extremely upsetting issue for divorcing couples.  We animal lovers view our pets as our children, but divorce law treats them as mere property.  For suggestions on how to resolve a pet dispute in your divorce, please read our blog titled “Managing a Pet Custody Dispute.”

The Court Process

What is a Motion?

A motion is an application you file with the Family Court to seek a specific form of relief. There are many different types of relief you can seek in a motion. Some examples of relief requested in motions are payment of expenses or temporary support pending a divorce; custody of children pending a divorce; an increase or decrease in alimony or child support; reimbursement for expenses paid for children; and modification of custody or parenting time. 

For more information on the elements of a motion, read our blog article titled, “What is a Motion?”

For more information on the types of post-judgment motions we handle, please refer to our Post-Judgment Motions page.

My Ex Filed a Motion. What Do I Do Now?

The first thing you need to do is thoroughly read the entire motion and any documents that came with it.  Some language may appear irrelevant or too formal, but read it anyway. You need to understand what your ex is specifically asking the court to do. The document titled “Notice of Motion” contains a list of the specific relief your ex is requesting.

It is possible that this will be an emotionally difficult undertaking because you might feel yourself getting angry/upset/annoyed/[fill in the blank] with every word you read. Just take a deep breath and get through it. Then, read through the document titled “Certification” or, if your ex filed the motion without an attorney, look for a document that provides a narrative of the reasons as to why he or she is asking the court to take certain actions. If the Certification (or this narrative) references any exhibits attached, refer to them as you read along.

As you are reading, try to understand your ex’s perspective. You certainly do not need to agree with it, but you need to try to understand it. This will be helpful to you because understanding your ex’s perspective is the first step to articulating your own response. This is what the judge will do. The judge will read that motion, then read your response and attempt to understand both sides before making their decision. Understanding your ex’s perspective will be helpful to you in preparing for oral argument as well.

Once you are finished reading the document, you should call the court immediately and find out when the “return date” of the motion is. The “return date” is the date on which the court will schedule a hearing and hear oral argument on the motion.  The return date should be noted on the Notice of Motion, but it is wise to confirm it with the court if it is not clear.

As a side note, whether there will be oral argument in your case is entirely within the court’s (the judge’s) discretion. That means the court decides if there will be oral argument, not you or your ex.

Once you have read the entire submission and determined the return date,  you need to decide whether you are going to retain an attorney to help you navigate through this. Your attorney will prepare and file your response and appear with you in court on the return date.   If you want an attorney to help you with this motion, you need to meet with and retain that attorney as soon as possible due to the tight timeline involved.

Post-Judgment Issues

Now That I Have My Judgment of Divorce, I Do Not Need to Deal With My Ex-spouse Anymore, Right?

That is not necessarily true.  You should carefully review your Marital Settlement Agreement to note all obligations either of you has to the other.  Write down a list of all important deadlines or add the deadlines to a calendar.  There is usually a timeframe for when tasks need to be completed.  For example, are you dividing retirement accounts?  Do bank accounts need to be closed?  Do you need to refinance your mortgage to remove your ex’s name?  Do you need to list your house for sale?  These are just a few examples of what may need to be completed after you are divorced.

If you have children together, you will always have to deal with your ex-spouse in one way or another.  For the sake of your children, even adult children, make every effort to approach your communications with your ex in a calm, productive and respectful manner. 

Stepparent Adoption

What are the Requirements for Stepparent Adoption in New Jersey?

We encourage you to read our blog article entitled, “Stepparent Adoption in New Jersey: What is Required?”

Our attorneys are here to help guide you through your New Jersey family law matter.  For assistance with your needs, we invite you to contact Family Focused Legal Solutions online or schedule an initial consultation by calling us at 973-993-9960. Our firm serves the greater part of North and Central Jersey including but not limited to Morris County, Union County, Passaic County, Somerset County, Bergen County, and Sussex County. All communications are strictly confidential.