Thursday, November 13, 2003
More Bang for Your Buck: Divorce
More and more marriages coming to an end these days -- leaving both partners bitter and broke. But divorce doesn't have to leave you in debt. In tonight's more bang for the buck, we're going to show you how to separate without spending a lot of money.
(WSVN) -- If you listen closely, you can hear Deborah Fleisher's soul singing.
"It's like breathing, playing," she says.
And so was married life until, after five years, she began to play a different tune.
"I think what we realized is we were better friends than partners, and if we wanted to maintain that friendship we couldn't really stay together," she explains.
Deborah decided to say "I do" to a divorce and she's not alone.
Over 900-thousand marriages split a year with a price tag of about 20-thousand dollars per case.
"Many times I think people have false notions about how the process is going to go," says Karen Rubinstein, a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, of the Centre for Connection, Inc.
That's why Karen teaches a class for men and women about how to handle a break-up. Think of it as divorce 101.
"They need to be armed with knowledge," she says, "and that is going to help them to make the best decision."
Karen suggests first trying to settle out of court.
A fast and cheap way is filing online.
For less than 300 dollars, the website completecase.com allows spouses to fill out all the paperwork for an uncontested divorce.
Or you can avoid the internet and try doing things in person through mediation.
"We knew we could work together," says Deborah.
That was Deborah's choice.
But if you're not able to agree, you may need the law on your side.
"In many cases a divorce means people need to go and hire an attorney, which is an added expense and can be a great expense."
To find an effective lawyer, Karen suggests interviewing several attorneys and ask for referrals from friends.
"These are definitely questions people need to ask," says Karen, "How much is the retainer? How will I be billed? What is your hourly rate? Will your associate by billed at a lesser rate? What can we do to keep the costs down? What happens when I run out of money?"
A supportive family helped Deborah through her divorce, but she wishes she had faced the music with a little extra planning.
"Looking back on it," she says, "I wish I had gone into it with a little more information-- a little more awareness for the future."
Karen suggests both partners approach a divorce with a clear understanding of their assets.
This will help each spouse negotiate a realistic and fair settlement.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Karen S. Rubinstein
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
Centre for Connection, Inc.
2699 Stirling Road, Ste. A-105
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33312