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Seminar Gives Free How-to Tips on Ending a Marriage

TIMES STAFF WRITER

A daylong free seminar Saturday on divorce is expected to draw a large crowd to Cal State Northridge, reflecting increased interest in how to end a marriage and deal with its aftermath, organizers say.

A similar seminar--conducted last year in the South Bay--drew more than 700 people, organizers said.

“We may top the South Bay figure,” said Gail Chase, a psychotherapist and member of the seminar planning committee. “There seems to be tremendous interest.”

Topics to be covered during speeches and workshops Saturday include child custody, child support, family violence, drug abuse, money management and how to pick a lawyer.

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The event is scheduled from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. In the final hour, participants will be able to talk privately to one of nine veteran divorce lawyers to get answers to individual questions.

“The legal workshops are our most popular session,” Chase said. “It’s an opportunity for people who cannot afford legal services and cannot get answers to very important questions.”

Betty Fisher, another organizer, said that the seminars were created in the mid-1980s to deal with the “rising tide of questions that people have about divorce that are directed at court officials and other professionals.”

She said that therapists, lawyers and other professionals donate their time at the seminars to “give something back to the community.” The seminars, conducted in a different part of Los Angeles County each year, are presented under the auspices of the Conciliation Court division of county Superior Court.

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The Cal State Northridge event is being co-sponsored by the San Fernando Valley Bar Assn. and the Valley Community Legal Assn., with participation by 10 other civic groups.

Speakers will include Alan B. Haber, Van Nuys Superior Court supervising judge; Don Zelinsky, president of the Valley Bar Assn., and Lynn Lopez of the California Family Study Center.

Fisher said that “myths of divorce” to be addressed by the speakers include:

* “I can refuse to let my ‘ex’ see the children because he doesn’t pay child support.”

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* “Joint custody is bad for children.”

* “If a marriage is in trouble, you should try to stay together for the children.”

* “The best lawyer is the one who fights the hardest and is the nastiest.”

The seminar will be held in the Student Union, and school cafeterias will be open to participants, organizers say. Child care is available free for children over 3, but reservations are required and may be made by calling (213) 974-5524.

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