For a mere $19.95, Roxanne Pulitzer offers advice on divorce

September 10, 1991|By Knight-Ridder News Service

Palm Beach, Fla. -- Roxanne Pulitzer wants to help you get through your divorce.

For $19.95, she'll tell you all the right things to do.

Roxanne Pulitzer, the Palm Beach woman who lost her kids, her house and her wealth in one of the most sensational divorce spats in memory? An authority?

"I can inform people of the mistakes I made so they won't make them," she says.

Ms. Pulitzer is pitching a divorce kit -- videotapes, manuals and workbook -- that offers advice for people in failed marriages. In the fall, she'll appear in a new series of videos, offering tips such as how to pick a divorce lawyer, how to handle custody and how to avoid high legal costs.

Each 15-minute tape will run $19.95.

"I think it should be given as a wedding gift," Ms. Pulitzer said between sips of coffee from her Palm Beach apartment, a block from the ocean.

"Most people select their lawyers by word of mouth," said Mark Luttier, who represented Peter Pulitzer in the big divorce.

In the videos, Ms. Pulitzer appears in blue jeans and a scarlet business jacket. From an easy chair, she gives her unscripted advice to the interviewer, South Carolina divorce lawyer Jan Warner, who produces and sells the self-help kits.

Mr. Warner approached Ms. Pulitzer earlier this year about endorsing his $99 package and appearing on some new tapes. He wouldn't say what she's getting paid.

"Five people came to us wanting to do this, all of them celebrities," said Mr. Warner, president of a company called Life Management. "Roxanne is really the only one who made every mistake in the book. She learned from experience."

Ms. Pulitzer -- who has shunned endorsements until now -- took a look at the material, agreed to have her face and praise plastered all over the brochure, and flew to South Carolina to tape her advice. This fall, she plans to tape another segment on preparing children for divorce.

So just what can Roxanne Pulitzer tell us about making the end an easier event?

Preparation and organization, she said, are the keys to a successful divorce -- two virtues she readily concedes were missing during her ordeal.

"I was a basket case," she said.

Some of her suggestions:

* Limit your legal costs by avoiding unnecessary calls to your lawyer.

* Don't appeal if you lose. Appeals are bad for the children and prolong the domestic agony.

* Get credit while you're married so you won't be broke when on your own.

* Don't tell anyone anything, including your doctor, that could be used against you in court.

Divorce lawyers aren't sold on Ms. Pulitzer's new product.

"I don't think Roxanne Pulitzer is particularly insightful about domestic relations," said Ronald Sales, who represented Palm Beach socialite Suki Sullivan in her divorce last year. "Her experience was her own unhappy experience."

It was 1982 when Roxanne Pulitzer lost custody of twin boys Mack and Zack, now 14 and living with their father on a ranch near Okeechobee, Fla. The judge on the case said she "continuously engaged in adultery and other gross marital misconduct."

Now 40, she writes novels and dates a French race car driver going through a nasty divorce of his own.

Ms. Pulitzer is three-fourths through a new mystery novel, "Facades." She writes in longhand at her dinette set. Her first novel, "Twins," was just released in paperback.

Until now, she has shied away from putting her name to products, refusing offers from jeans and perfume companies. But after flipping through the divorce kit, she felt she could help people going through what she did nearly 10 years ago.

Joe Farish, the West Palm Beach lawyer who represented her back then, has unkind words for Ms. Pulitzer and her videotapes. Mr. Farish currently represents Palm Beach socialite Francine de la Moussaye, estranged wife of Pulitzer's boyfriend, Jean.

"It's good for a laugh," he said of the divorce kit. "She's totally unqualified. She's pitiful."

Ms. Pulitzer doesn't like Mr. Farish, either.

One of her suggestions in the videotape: Be sure to shop carefully for a lawyer.

(For the divorce kits or Roxanne Pulitzer's advice videos, call (800) 235-5642 or send the order to Life Management, P.O. Box 2170, Columbia, S.C. 29202.)

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