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  • Cost of divorce rising
  • By Glenn Connley
  • Today Tonight
  • 10/01/2006 Make a Comment
  • Contributed by: admin ( 61 articles in 2006 )
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The government is urging troubled couples to undergo marriage counselling, but for those who decide to proceed with a divorce, some commonsense could save them thousands.

As Australia's divorce rate nears 50 per cent, couples are spending a small fortune on the legalities of splitting up.

Mediator Michael Green said he has known couples to spend between $100,000 and $1 million on divorcing.

Divorcee Elizabeth Wayne told Today Tonight her lawyer said it would cost $35,000 to handle her affairs, but presented her with a bill for $116,000.

"Most people wouldn't sign up to have a lawyer represent them if they know their bill could be five times their annual income," Wayne said.

But, when it comes to divorce, a little bit of commonsense goes along way, according to Caroline Counsel, who specialises in affordable family law.

She said agreeing on who gets what before the lawyers get involved makes a divorce quick and cheap.

"Well it shouldn't take all that long if we're just talking about divorce and you're probably looking at about $600 to $700," Counsel said.

She also recommends couples consider a pre-nuptial agreement.

"Pre-nuptial agreements or as they're called financial agreements are a great device for avoiding the family court, particularly for people with second marriages and people with assets."

"Once upon a time they used not to be recognized, but now they are recognized."

"They are intended to be upheld by the family court and you can enter into them either before marriage during marriage or after divorce."

Experts claimed that couple should also remember that for many, divorce leads to financial hardship.

A newly single mother, Natale Carter said the period after separation was financially difficult.

"…You're looking at renting you're looking at purchasing or hire purchase for appliances and motor vehicles," Carter said.

"Immediately after the divorce it really is quite expensive and it is very difficult trying to pay rent and school fees and rebuild your life and rebuild your home just so you can have modern comforts and give your children what you need."

Elizabeth Wayne was another who took years to financially recover from divorce.

"I went through my divorce... in 1994 and I'm still paying the price of that," Wayne said

"I was discharged from bankruptcy three years ago but the solicitor that represented me with the $116,000 bill is still pushing for this property to be sold to pay his account."

Former barrister Michael Green said mediating kept couples in control of their divorce proceedings, rather than putting the settlement into the hands of expensive lawyers.

Green said he could not emphasise enough the value of common sense during a divorce.

"The couples themselves are sometimes their own worst enemy," Green said.

"They are so injured, angry, chewed up with the bitterness of the separation and the history that has come before it and how it happened, for instance, that they allow that emotion to cloud their judgment."

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