Divorce Without A Lawyer: Self Help New Jersey Resources

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Introduction

Divorce without a lawyer in NJ is challenging.  I’m DubG, queen of the 5-year-long divorce in NJ, and here to share the insider’s scoop on how and where to find what you need to arm yourself with preparedness for destination dissolution, aiming to save you some precious time, energy, and maybe a few trips to the liquor store… though maybe that’s just my way of handling things.

From navigating the in’s and outs of domestic violence support, because there are many additional resources there,  to deciphering the myth of “free legal aid,” I’ll lay it all out, sprinkling in some personal bloopers in the posts that inspired me to start this list due to my own costly and painful misadventures.

Quick heads up: Every state, including our lovely Garden State, has its own set of rules, red tape, and, let’s be honest, bureaucratic nonsense. If you’re not from NJ, make sure to double-check with your local officials. And just to be crystal clear: I am NOT a lawyer, nor do I play one on TV. I’m just sharing tales from my epic 5-year (and counting) divorce saga.

Alright, let’s get down to business! I’ve started to gather a treasure trove of resources to make your Pro Se journey slicker than a greased-up water slide. Trust me, navigating this legal jungle isn’t for the faint of heart. I will continue to add  to this list as I dish out the content and I have five long years of stories to tell y’all, so be sure to bookmark this page and keep checking back. Programs do change often due to funding or mostly lack thereof, so if anything is not valid, please let me know and I’ll keep it as neat and tidy as my doodles bum. What? Don’t judge me; he sleeps on my pillow and by midnight, things shift, if ya know what I mean.

At times, getting a divorce without an attorney might feel like you’re trying to solve a jigsaw puzzle blindfolded. I’ll dish on what I’ve learned, the mysteries I’m still untangling, and the emotional rollercoaster that comes with the territory. I have had so many false promises broken that I may seem like the Debbie Downer, but I can assure you I’m just playing Devil’s Advocate for your own sake.

So, arm yourself with a good laugh at my expense, maybe a few tissues for the faint of heart and let’s get to it.

 

Domestic Violence Resources In New Jersey Nj divorce without an attorney

Resource Description Contact
New Jersey Coalition to End Domestic Violence Provides support, resources, and advocacy for victims of domestic violence in New Jersey. Website
New Jersey Battered Women’s Shelter Directory A list of shelters providing refuge and support for victims of domestic violence. Shelter Directory
New Jersey Domestic Violence Hotline Confidential assistance and resources are available 24/7 for victims of domestic violence. 1-800-572-SAFE (7233)

Legal Assistance in NJ for Litigants Going Through a Divorce Without An Attorney

Organization Description Contact
Legal Services of New Jersey Provides free legal advice ( a phone call and several weeks of waiting) to low-income individuals in civil cases, including divorce. They generally do not represent you but will answer specific questions on a scheduled 30-minute call. It generally takes several weeks after you request an appointment to speak with an attorney and you will be screened thoroughly first. I spoke with one about a motion for appeal and they were not very helpful at all. Website
Rutgers School of Law Pro Bono Programs Law students offer free legal assistance under attorney supervision to eligible individuals. I could not get assistance from them due to a long-term backup due to COVID-19. Website
Rutgers Family Law The Rutgers Law Library has a guide on family law in New Jersey, including uncontested divorce in New Jersey. You can utilize this resource by using it to understand the legal terminology and processes involved in a divorce Website
New Jersey Volunteer Lawyers for Justice Matches pro bono attorneys with low-income individuals in need of legal assistance. I could not get assistance from them due to a long-term backup due to COVID-19. Website

New Jersey Government Programs and Forms

Resource Description Link
New Jersey Courts: Self-Help Resource Center The official resource center provides court-approved forms and instructions for self-represented litigants. This is for divorce forms online specific to NJ. Self-Help Resource Center
Ombudsmen For any Pro Se litigants, the Ombudsman is there to help you understand the process. However, they can only tell you what forms need to be completed to do things like file a motion, enter a plea, or request an adjournment. They will not tell you what you should do next, advise you, or help you understand an uncontested divorce versus a contested divorce, nor your options for either. In my experience, they gave me the wrong instructions for the process of what I wanted to accomplish, which cost me dearly in many cases. But they are the keepers of the forms if you need them physically or need to know which one is valid for your case. Ombudsman Directory NJ
New Jersey Judiciary, Family Division Essential information and forms for divorce cases handled by the Family Division of the New Jersey Courts. NJ Family Division
New Jersey Child Support Program Offers assistance in calculating child support and enforcing court orders, but it takes months at minimum to enforce anything. Then, when you do, if the defendant is arrested on a bench warrant, there is no guarantee they will make him pay anything significant to get out. In my case, he was arrested three times, for a total of $110 disbursed to me out of the $150,000 in arrears he owed at the time of the arrests. Child Support Program
New Jersey Parent Education Program Court-approved parenting education programs for divorcing parents are mandatory for all litigants going through a divorce when children are involved. It is not a helpful resource, but they will make you do it. Just get it over with. Parent Education Program

New Jersey Legal Departments and Services

Department Description Contact
New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs Registers and oversees attorneys in New Jersey. Verify the status and disciplinary history of attorneys. Attorney Search
New Jersey Office of the Ombudsman Resolves complaints about New Jersey courts, including issues related to self-represented litigants. My experience  with “disciplinary” offices for the court system has been horrible. You cannot sue the court in NJ and complaining about them only made my case much harder. The system is corrupt, so try to stay on the better side of that for your own sake. Office of the Ombudsman
New Jersey Family Court Services Offers mediation and other services to help families resolve divorce-related issues. This has also been a very negative experience for me but another thing the court made us do, so the judge could try to avoid having to make a judgement. Ironic…. Family Court Mediation Services

New Jersey Additional Resources

Resource Description Link
Ai Lawyer Online Ai tool to help pro se litigants understand legal documents, processes, and specific laws or rules about their specific case circumstances. This tool will guide you through writing a motion, drafting a settlement offer, researching case precedent, statutes, or court rules and even pointing out where you may have risk exposure. Through our link, they’ll provide a free trial and only $10 per week; cancel whenever for whatever reason. The average retainer is $10k and the average divorce case costs $50k+ (mine was 6X that) Ai Lawyer
New Jersey Legal Help – Divorce Detailed information and resources about divorce in New Jersey. NJ Divorce Resources
New Jersey State Bar Association Provides referrals to attorneys and legal information for the public. NJ State Bar Association
New Jersey Legal Aid Hotline Offers information and referrals to free legal services. 1-888-LSNJ-LAW (1-888-576-5529)
The Complete Guide to Divorce Law” by Nihara K. Choudhr While not specific to New Jersey, this book provides a general overview of divorce law in the United States. You can utilize this resource by reading it to understand the general principles that apply to divorce. Book

 

A Final Word

Remember that self-representation in a divorce can be challenging. Consider seeking advice from a qualified attorney if needed.

I will keep this list updated so let me know if anything is off or if I should put anything on it. Email [email protected]

Remember, you’re not alone, and with the right tools and support, you’ve got this! If you have any suggestions for additional resources, drop me a message. Good luck, warriors! 🥂