Question

Do I Need an Attorney for Custody Agreements in New Jersey?

Debra E. Guston

Answered by:
Debra E. Guston

Located in Glen Rock, NJ
Guston & Guston, LLP

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Answer

Legally, reaching a custody agreement does not require the assistance of a lawyer, and it is possible to do it without one. However, creating a sustainable agreement without the help of a lawyer can be extremely difficult and leave you exposed to unexpected consequences.

Custody agreements need to specifically address the needs of both parents and children in a way that is enforceable and will be recognized as valid if challenged in court later. Although you aren’t required to have an attorney to create an agreement, you may be severely harming or even giving up your rights in the long run unless you are highly trained in the creation of these kinds of legal documents.

What a Lawyer Can Provide

It’s a completely fair question to wonder if you’re getting what you’re paying for when you hire an attorney just to help you come to an agreement on custody. Consider, however, how important the outcome is for you. When it comes to custody of your children and your right to be involved in their lives and development, you should be very careful about cutting financial corners.

There are a lot of services and benefits that working with a lawyer provides. Perhaps most importantly is expertise and a detailed understanding of what these kinds of documents need to cover and how it all needs to be written to be enforceable by a court.

Hiring a lawyer ultimately gives you a person with knowledge and experience who can guide you through the process, make sure your rights are protected and give you confidence that your agreement won’t suddenly be invalidated by a court in the future. In fact, having a lawyer work with you makes it less likely that you will end up having to go to court.

At the very least, assuming you and your partner are in agreement on all the main points of your agreement, consider having a lawyer review your document to make sure there’s nothing important that was missed.

Answered 06/08/2017

Disclaimer: This answer was provided by an attorney selected to Super Lawyers, and is intended to be an educated opinion only. This answer should not be relied upon as legal advice, nor construed as a form of attorney-client relationship.

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