My divorce cost me over $20k in lawyers fees, and it was well worth it. One mistake I constantly see being made by friends and relatives is the "my ex is a reasonable person, we won't have to fight, she doesn't want to keep me away from the kids, etc...". Number one, no woman is reasonable. None. Number 2, you WILL have to fight. Big time. Number 3, your ex will without a shadow of a doubt use your kid/kids as pawns in an attempt to get more money from you.
I started off in the "my ex is reasonable and would always do what's best for our child" camp. We had a mutual divorce and she had a lawyer draft up divorce papers. Jusrt to be safe I ran them by a different lawyer before signing them. When I went to meet with the lawyer after he reviewed the papers, he actually asked me what kind of illegal business I was running or if I was hiding a substantial amount of income somewhere. It turned out she had the divorce written as if I had an implied income of $400k a year ( I do well for myself but I don't make near that). Not only that, it was written with a mandatory increase of 10% each year AND it could NEVER be modified. It was highway robbery and would have cost me something to the tune of $15k month by the time my child was 10. She did that under the guise of being very sweet and saying that she would share 50/50 custody with me. Well, of course the agreement she had written only gave me every other weekend along with her discretion if she had plans on my weekend. Honestly, the only logical thought was she didn't think I'd read it at all and just sign it under the guise that she was "reasonable" throughout the process. The mutual reason of why we were divorcing by the way was because she was cheating on me, with a couple different people.
$20k later in lawyer fees and I managed to get every other weekend FRI-Monday morning plus 1 weeknight and the standard child support weekly per the NJ state child support calculator.
I have 2 friends who went ahead and believed their ex was reasonable and both of them are getting royally ****ed and barely seeing their kids. Especially the one who lost his job due to the economy.
If you are a male and you have kids involved in this divorce that you intend to see more than every other weekend, you NEED A LAWYER! Every law favors women heavily in NJ and you need a lawyer to find legal ways to get your ex to relent and give you more time with your children. I had rights to spousal property that she inherited and deposited into joint accounts, thus gifting it to me technically. My lawyer used that as a chip to get her to relent and give me more time with my kids.
And just as a good laugh for you all, one of the sticking points of our divorce was she wanted 50% rights to any inherited money I received in the future from my family. She actually wrote in an agreement amendment that she would release her rights to any inheritance I receive in the future (to which she actually had no legal rights to at all)post divorce if I release my rights to her inheritance that she already received that I mentioned earlier. That's how friggin crazy women are. She actually forced her lawyer to put an illegal amendment stating she would release rights to something she had no legal right or ownership to what so ever if I would release my rights to money I had legal rights to but was forfeiting for more time with my child.
GET A LAWYER!!! A GOOD ONE!