If you’re getting divorced and you don’t have an attorney, you are responsible for understanding the law and the court procedures for how to get divorced.
And, if you don’t know the law and procedure, you have to learn it, but how and from where? Just so happens you’re in the right spot!
It’s time to go to law school. Well, you won’t have to worry about incurring six figures in loans and having to pass the bar exam.
No sweat, right?
Not exactly. If you’re like most people, you’re freaking out and overwhelmed about how you can possibly do this alone.
You’re not alone!
I’m here to guide you and there are thousands of others who are in the same position as you, without attorneys and forced to represent themselves in their divorce.
What you need is the knowledge and confidence to represent yourself and I have taken it upon myself to teach you that. It’s my calling, my mission…it’s what I do.
That’s why they call me The Divorce Resource Guy™!
During a divorce, there will be times where you will want the court to do something on your behalf. This might be have your spouse give you support, or allow you to take the children on vacation out of state. So, how do you do this?
You file a motion.
Wait wait wait. What is a motion?
Before I get into what makes a good motion versus a bad one, let me back it up for a minute and explain what exactly a motion is and how it should be used in a divorce case.
A motion is a legal term that means “request.” Whenever you want the judge to do something, or take some type of action in your case, you have to ask the court to do it. You ask by filing a written request…or motion.
Believe it or not, the court is not thinking about you or your case unless your case number pops up on the court calendar. Chances are the family court where you live is so busy, they don’t have time to think about anything! So, unless your case is scheduled for a hearing, or status conference, the court assumes everything is fine and isn’t thinking about you.
The way to get on the court’s radar is by filing a motion. But, you should only file a motion if you need something. I mean really need something.
Let me explain.
There are a few reasons why you or your ex, or soon to be ex, would file a motion. I can’t get into every reason here, but these are a few of the biggies:
- You need money.
- You want to change the parenting schedule.
- You are paying financial support, but need a decrease.
- You are not getting access to the necessary documents during discovery.
- You need more money (notice how this is different than number 1? First, you just needed money, now you need more)
- There is a custody dispute.
- You want your spouse to pay your attorney fees.
- You want to send your children to summer camp and want your spouse to pay for it.
Get the idea?
There are no limits on why you can file a motion, but you should think carefully before doing so because most courts don’t like frivolous filers? Meaning, if it’s not really important, don’t waste the court’s time.
What do I say in my motion?
I’m creating an entire video course to teach you just this and how to write a motion that the court will listen to. But, for now you should understand the basic parts of a motion.
Every court and every state has its own procedures on how to file a motion, so you should do some research to get this information. Most courts have forms for people representing themselves that you can use.
Also, understand that there will probably be a fee to file your motion. In New Jersey, the fee is $50 for each motion. That’s why you should really think about whether you need what you’re asking the court for before you file.
The form of a motion can vary depending on if you have an attorney, or you’re representing yourself and using pro se forms. (in case you don’t know, pro se is a legal term for someone who doesn’t have an attorney)
Typically, a motion consists of three parts; Notice of Motion, Certification/Affirmation, and form Order. Let’s review each one.
The Notice of Motion is the first page of the motion and basically tells the court and the other party when the motion is scheduled to be heard and what the topic for the motion is. For example, the Notice will say something like, “On April 23, 2016, you will appear in court to request child support.” Obviously, that’s not the exact language, but it gives you an idea.
The main part of your motion will be a sworn statement by you that tells the court why you are asking for whatever it is you’re asking for. This is the part where you can attach exhibits and show the court whatever proofs you may have to support your claims.
The last part of your motion usually is a draft Order for the court to use when it makes its decision. In essence, what you’re doing is assuming the court is going to grant all your requests and you draft the Order so all the judge has to do is sign it. So, let’s say you’re asking to have the children on Memorial Day this year, your Order would say, “[YOUR NAME] gets the children on Memorial Day this year.” There is more that goes into an Order, but you get the idea.
Good motions take time to write
If you have an attorney for your divorce and you need to file a motion, that can easily cost you thousands of dollars. That’s because a good motion takes time to write. And, it’s not just writing the motion. The other side replies and then you have an opportunity to submit a reply to the reply. Then, if you request oral argument, you have to go to court and discuss it with the judge.
When I was representing people in their divorces, I would spend hours writing a motion. That’s because you want to write with a certain tone so the court listens to what you have to say and is inclined to grant your requests.
For now, just know that