The books listed here are some of my favorites to help with different aspects of the divorce process. While some of the books do not directly speak to divorce, they provide insights into the ways that we, as human beings, seem to be slaves to certain universal emotions, such as guilt, vulnerability, anxiety or chronic negativity.
Too Good to Leave, Too Bad to Stay, by Mira Kirshenbaum (1998).
This book has been around for a while now. It is the classic text for helping an individual decide whether to leave a marriage or not. I have used it and I have referred it to many clients (and others) who were looking for a diagnostic tool to ensure they were making the right decision—whether to proceed with a divorce or not. The strength of the book is in the specific exercises and tools presented. Working through the questions and exercises, the reader gets an understanding of what needs to be done and can move forward confidently.
Rising Strong, by Brene Brown (2015)
This is a must read for anyone feeling vulnerability, shame or guilt related to their divorce. While Rising Strong does not specifically address divorce, it addresses all the emotional issues that divorcing people must face. One of my client’s summarized the principles as “life-changing” and that she was “empowered to stand up to my husband in ways I never thought I could.” From a divorce lawyer’s perspective, the client’s ability to be decisive, understand and accept the many shortcomings of the legal system is priceless. It allows the attorney’s focus to stay trained on the business of getting successful results, instead of worrying about whether the client will be emotionally stable enough to simply get through the divorce, much less being an active part of getting good orders.
Nolo’s Essential Guide to Divorce, by Emily Doskow (2014) is a helpful tool to use, irrespective of whether you have hired an attorney. In fact, this guide can help you communicate with your attorney. It is detailed enough to give you an idea of what you might expect throughout the process—from breaking the news to gathering your financial information, looking at mediation versus litigation, custody battles, support, and property division, as well as remarriage and other life after divorce. The process of reading about your specific rights in each area can trigger specific questions or circumstances that you’ll want to share with your lawyer. I have found that clients who do their ‘own research’ as to what to expect from divorce are much more empowered to participate actively in the process and to keep it under control.
Divorce After 50, by Janice Green (2013) is a great resource for many of my clients, most of which are over 50. Divorce is a very different experience when you’re leaving a 25+ year marriage, have grown children, health concerns and you’re headed toward retirement age. The act of getting a divorce for anyone over 50 also accelerates the importance of having a sound financial plan for the divorce and beyond. This book’s explanation of these financial details helps clients understand the goals of the post 50 divorce, while reinforcing legal advice that a such as the benefits of selling the home, as opposed to keeping it for sentimental reasons.
The Complete Guide to Protecting Your Financial Security When Getting a Divorce, by Alan Feigenbaum and Heather Linton (2004) is my ‘go to’ resource as a primer for a client who wants to better understand how the financial side of the divorce system works. As the divorce attorney, my role is to secure the best settlement for my client, not to provide basic education on finances. I often work with a CDFA (Certified Divorce Financial Analyst) who helps devise strategies on the best possible division of assets and spousal support combination. We have found that when clients understand the basics of their finances, they can be more decisive and proactive in the divorce negotiations process.
Divorce and New Beginnings, by Genevieve Clapp (2000). This book is my favorite resource for clients looking for insights as to what they will be facing in divorce and after—with the focus on protecting children and putting them first in divorce. Dr. Clapp (a retired San Diego Family Court Services Mediator) shares the wisdom gained from her many years of helping conflicted parents work out custody plans. She provides excellent tools to help you understand the impact of conflict on your children, tips to help your children adjust to your divorce and the path to building a rewarding single life after divorce, for both you and your children.
Disarming the Narcissist, by Wendy T. Behary (2008). Many clients have benefitted from reading this book. While not written specifically for a spouse dealing with a narcissistic spouse, it provides an easy-to-follow approach that allows the reader to relate to a narcissistic spouse in new empowering ways. When clients can finally ‘see through’ the bullying behavior of their spouses, they approach the decision-making aspect of divorce in a rational, professional and positive manner. They do not feel bullied going into settlement negotiations, nor are they afraid of the usual antics that narcissists and their lawyers will use in an effort to intimidate during divorce.
Talking to Crazy, by Mark Goulston (2015) is a great read for anyone looking for effective communication tools in dealing with anyone in your life who is irrational, out of control or nuts. One of the concerns expressed by clients over the years is, “I can’t believe he/she is allowed to get away with saying that.” When you’re going through a divorce, you and your spouse are both allowed to express your opinions and your positions. Irrational people will often hire lawyers with similar personalities. If your goal is to get through a divorce with these characters in it, you’ll need to arm yourself with the valuable tools and tips from this book.