Law Office of Robert J. Wittmann

I'm a South Jersey general practice attorney, Truman Scholar and former Congressional staffer with a passion for justice. My general practice focuses on civil litigation, family law and municipal court.


There are basically two types of divorce, contested and uncontested. The vast majority of divorces are uncontested and are relatively easy to handle. Far more complicated are those divorces where alimony, child support and child custody/visitation are at issue.

One of the most common complaints I hear from middle class folks is that divorce lawyers are too expensive. I agree with this. The vast majority of divorce lawyers ARE too expensive. Most people only get married once or twice in their lifetime, and because of this, they don’t really know who all the divorce attorneys are in their area, or how to judge them. Many try to retain the most famous or aggressive attorney out there, one from a big firm, because they mistakenly believe that this person will be able to get them everything they want. Sadly, what often happens, especially to middle class clients, is that they spend so much money, up-front, on these high powered lawyers, that they wind up going broke early in the game.

I find this to be highly unfortunate. The New Jersey court system goes to great lengths to encourage the amicable and affordable settlement of divorce cases, believing that they are too expensive, distasteful and traumatic to bring before a judge for a full trial. They encourage early diversionary programs like custody mediation, MESP, parenting education classes and the like, hoping to minimize, as much as possible, the number of cases that go to trial. While these intentions are noble, a sad side effect is that they distort the litigation marketplace. It’s common to find high-powered divorce lawyers who charge between $300 and $400 per hour. When you figure into the equation that many cases have high amounts of work early-on, especially in regard to initial discovery filings and pendente lite motion hearings, all of which take place at roughly the same time as these diversionary programs, one realizes that the system costs clients far too much money, far too early in the game. 

As a result, many clients may spend 80%-90% of their expendable, discretionary income during these early stages, without anything to show for it. They have run out of money and often feel compelled to settle the case early-on, on unsatisfactory and sometimes even objectionable terms. They feel they have no choice. Countless issues which need to be brought to a Judge’s attention in a genuine trial are left by the wayside, unaddressed and forgotten, lost in a cocoon of outstanding debts and merciless billable hours.

Everybody, regardless of income, deserves their day in court. And more often than not, the best way to adjudicate a complex divorce is by bringing it in front of a judge by way of trial. Judges tend to have the knowledge, skill, competence, objectivity and experience needed to handle a case properly. Furthermore, the vast majority of the time, the Judges come up with a correct and just outcome. An MESP panel has no fear that they will be overturned on appeal. A judge does. As a result, they go to great lengths to ensure that they make the right call at the end of a trial.

Countless middle class clients, especially small business owners, professionals, and those facing complex issues in their divorce---they need the extra special care and attention that only a judge can give them by way of a trial. The factual complexities of their lives and livelihoods ensures that no MESP panel, or cursory pendente lite motion (where hearsay often runs rampant) could ever do them justice.

Sadly, the economic distortions currently created in the litigation marketplace are keeping countless people away from their day in court. We see this in a variety of arenas, whether criminal, civil, or family. Courts are best when trying cases. That’s why they were created. And yet, due to budgetary concerns, the court system actively tries to minimize the number of cases that go to trial. This sort of thing doesn’t really hurt the rich and wealthy, who can weather the financial storm of discovery and initial pleadings and diversionary programs, while easily maintaining an army of high-cost attorneys and expert witnesses up to the day of trial, and beyond, if necessary.

Rather, it’s the middle classes who suffer. They spend so much money up-front on lawyers, discovery fees, and expert witnesses--who may never produce a report or even see the inside of a courtroom--and at the end of the day, they don’t have much to show for it except a high attorney bill, and an unsatisfactory outcome.

My solution to these problems is simple and counter-intuitive: If my client is of modest means, but in a highly complex case, I intentionally lower my hourly rate.

This does a number of things.

  • First--it ensures that my client is not bled dry early in the case and forced to either accept a raw deal, or go it alone as a pro se litigant—both of which aren’t in his best interests.


  • Second--it ensures that my client can go further in the case, whether this means going to trial, or  gaining a position of strength from which to negotiate.


  • Third--I still get paid the same amount of money at the end of the day, albeit in a manner that’s more spread-out. If I make $5,000 or $10,000 in a divorce, it makes no difference to me if I make all that money in the first few months, or over the course of a year. That said, it makes a world of difference to my clients, because, oftentimes, this is the only money they have.


If you are a professional or own a small business, and are looking for an affordable, yet highly skilled divorce attorney that's able to go the distance, feel free to contact me for a free consultation.

Call us for quality, compassionate, and individualized representation: 856-873-3730


The materials on this website are provided for informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. These materials are intended, but not promised or guaranteed to be current, complete, or up-to-date and should in no way be taken as an indication of future results. Transmission of the information is not intended to create, and the receipt does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship between sender and receiver.