A review of "How To Avoid The Divorce From Hell (And Dance Together at Your Daughter's Wedding)" by M. Sue Talia.
M. Sue Talia's self-review of How To Avoid The Divorce From Hell states "Here's how to avoid common pitfalls that lead to war, substitute constructive solutions, and increase the likelihood that you and your spouse can have a civilized divorce, for your own sakes and those of your children."
Although there's a lot of truth in what Ms. Talia says, we'll be honest- we're skeptical of books that offer plans or techniques for facilitating a "good" divorce, i.e. where the level of hostility is low and neither party gets treated unfairly. More often than not, the concept, although sound, fails miserably. This is for two reasons, and they have nothing to do with the books themselves (the books, like this one, are usually great).
The first reason is that for the plans in books like this to succeed, you and your soon-to-be-ex have to cooperate fairly well for the duration of the divorce. In our experience, this just doesn't happen very often. The second reason is that the courts and lawyers play such a large role in the outcome of nearly all divorces (especially those with custody issues), that the parties involved have little or no control over what actually happens, despite the best of intentions.
With that said, we still think that How To Avoid The Divorce From Hell has some practical information you can use to minimize the acrimony and emotional/financial trauma that often accompanies divorce, especially a bitter, contested divorce.
The two main factors that decide the level of hostility in a divorce are 1) your spouse, and 2) his/her attorney. These are the two people, by and large, that will determine the level of conflict in your divorce.
If your spouse is determined to cause trouble, there isn't much you can do to mitigate this. A combative and/or bitter spouse can drag things out, run up the overall cost of the divorce, and escalate the level of acrimony through a variety of tactics. He or she may make false accusations, run up debts on jointly-held credit cards, clean out your bank account, conceal and/or alienate your children, interfere with your employment, and steal or sell your personal or jointly-held property, to name just a few of the typical 'dirty tricks'.
The other half of the equation is your spouse's attorney. It's not uncommon for a relatively amicable divorce to turn adversarial once the attorneys get involved. If a combative spouse is actively assisted by their attorney, plan on an extremely rocky divorce. Attorneys know the system and can therefore use it to maximum effect against you. Filing unnecessary or uncalled for restraining orders, requiring excessive numbers of depositions, canceling or repeatedly postponing court dates, and deliberately hindering communication by raising the level of conflict are a few of the common techniques used by Lawyers From Hell.
Ms. Talia outlines some useful methods to minimize and manage these kinds of offensive maneuvers by both your spouse and opposing counsel, but be advised that there is simply no practical way to prevent them. With the Lawyer From Hell and/or a combative spouse, you'll spend most of your time in 'reaction' mode, fighting the fires that your spouse and his/her attorney will constantly be starting.
Although Ms. Talia offers a number of good ideas and potential solutions, be aware that the effectiveness of these solutions still depends to a great degree on the attitude and behavior of the other parties involved. We feel that the techniques provided in How To Avoid The Divorce From Hell are certainly the cover price of the book, but don't expect miracles.
Based on price (reasonable) as well as content (excellent), we rate How To Avoid The Divorce From Hell as a 3-star resource (on a scale of 1 to 5).