SARASOTA , Fla. - At the Women's Resource Center in Sarasota, a classroom is ready for those looking to learn how to navigate the costs of divorce. Lori Gentile, the director of client services, said it’s lessons that would have helped in her own split.
"The stakes are very high, and we owned a business together on top of it. We owned a software company," said Gentile. "So it's very complicated, and I had never gone through a negotiation like this before and I spent all my time with my lawyer. That's all I knew. You're getting a divorce. You go to a lawyer and so my divorce costs were astronomical because I didn't know what work I should be doing up front."
"Divorce is traumatic. It's actually it's the second most traumatic event in a person's life after the death of a loved one," said Kim Boyd, who became a divorce coach after her marriage ended.
She helps her clients save money by working through their emotions first.
"So they can go to their attorneys with a clear set of questions of their concerns, what their goals and priorities are, and they can make the best use of their time with the attorney without breaking the bank," said Boyd.
"I realized there were many ways I could have saved if I had made sure I was understanding my emotions and coming more prepared to the attorney with the plans of what I needed and the education up front as opposed to letting the lawyer lead those discussions because every hour you talk to the attorney it's ‘cha-ching’ so with better preparation I could have done much better," said Gentile.
How high your costs go can depend on a few factors.
"Are there children involved? Is there a business involved? Do you have a good relationship with your spouse? And you could actually do it yourself if you educate. It's a matter of getting the paperwork and walking it through yourself or a mediator as opposed to having two sets of attorneys," said Gentile.
"For people without children it's about $13,000 and then the average divorce for people with children is about $20,000," said mediator Beth Reineke.
She said services like hers can drive those costs down.
"Typically work with parties who don't want to hire separate attorneys to litigate their case. They want to try to go through the process in a more civilized manner, working out their differences and saving costs," said Reineke.
Going through things amicably with your soon-to-be ex can benefit you both financially.
"The more things that they can resolve the less expensive it's going to be," said Reineke.
"I think we spent $3500 dollars total when it was all said and done because we had worked through everything and really just went to the attorney and said this is what we want to do," said Boyd.
"The earlier they can get into mediation, the less money they're going to spend," said Reineke.
If a divorce is uncontested it can amount to as little as a few hundred dollars.
"If you do it yourself you can get divorced for $408 which is the filing fee," said Reineke.
While divorce is hard it doesn't have to be a hardship.
"Get educated, learn what your options are, because they're out there," said Gentile.
For more information about divorce 101 workshops from the Women's Resource Center visit: www.mywrc.org.
For more information about Reineke Mediations visit: www.bethreineke.com.