The Divorce Help Clinic: When ‘happily ever after’ is over

By Marti Gacioch

When Nancy Fagan, owner of The Divorce Help Clinic, experienced her first marriage ending in divorce, she thought she had a better chance of encountering an alien than finding a second husband. But instead of accepting the single life, Fagan said she began to write her first book, “Desirable Men: How to Find Them.”

Fagan holds an M.S. in clinical psychology (emphasis in marriage and family therapy), so she felt well-suited for her task. She also had more than 20 years of experience working with conflicted couples. After her first book was successfully in print, she penned a second, “The Idiot’s Guide to Romance.”

“And that’s when everything changed,”’ Fagan said. She expected the book to attract couples seeking to improve their relationships, but instead, she got people who wanted help negotiating the details of their divorce. Feeling ill-equipped to assist them, she said she began training in divorce mediation. But she quickly learned she would still need an attorney to handle legal documents.

“I now have the largest divorce mediation company in north San Diego and a fantastic team of four mediators with law degrees and extensive training in divorce finances,” Fagan said.

Because Boomer couples (ages 45-65) are her typical clients, Fagan said she’s well versed in the retirement and Social Security issues impacting them. She said it’s usually women (85 percent), who contact the clinic and initiate a divorce.

“Many people have thought about divorce for years, but they don’t know where to start,” Fagan said. “So we offer a free Divorce Drop-in Clinic where anyone can visit Wednesdays between 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. and meet privately with a mediator.”

Fagan said hiring a mediator with a law degree to facilitate a divorce costs less than one retainer for a divorce attorney. At the Divorce Help Clinic, a divorce costs less than $4,000.

“That includes filing a divorce petition, serving a spouse, assisting the client and their spouse to make decisions on support, division of finances, debt, as well as custody and visitation,” Fagan said. “We also complete the legal documentation, notarize the final Marital Settlement Agreement, and file everything with the court. Best of all, the couple never has to go to court.”

— The Divorce Help Clinic, owner Nancy Fagan, M.S., 11622 El Camino Real, San Diego (Carmel Valley). (858) 863-3380.

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