There is no shortage of self-help books dealing with divorces. How many of these family lawyers should recommend to their clients is a moot point. So, it was with some interest that I read A Woman’s Guide to Divorce.
The book markets itself as providing a ‘holistic approach’ to divorce, covering the emotional, legal and personal journey, and dismantling a few popular misconceptions on the way.
In reality, it is a lot more pragmatic and down-to-earth than the blurb on the cover might have you believe. There are solid chapters on preparing your child for separation, communication skills and life after decree absolute, together with very sensible advice on ensuring emotional and physical well-being during the divorce. There is, pleasingly for this family lawyer, very little self-help jargon.
It is penned by two women who experienced ‘unusual, prolonged and extreme’ divorces, who are at pains to point out that this book is not about ‘man-bashing’ – although there is some stereotyping which may irk readers.
Authors: Phyllida Wilson, Maxine Pillinger
Publisher: Robinson (£9.99)
There are a lot of positives about this book, but I do have reservations about the guidance offered about the legal process.
While the book is clearly not intended to be a comprehensive guide to family law, there are some important omissions. For example there is no mention of fixed fees or unbundled services, the hefty court fees payable when making an application or the need to attend a mediation information and assessment meeting (MIAM) in the context of financial applications.
Scant regard is paid to non-court dispute resolution and what is said sends out mixed messages about the merits of pursuing these options. And the section on financial arrangements gives little detail of this immensely complicated, highly important topic. To omit any mention of pension-sharing in a book aimed at women undergoing divorces is a further missed opportunity.
For the right client, and as a resource for some commonsense advice on dealing with the aftermath of a decision to divorce, the book would be useful. It is also immensely readable in style, with nice touches of humour. However, for a client to rely on it alone as a one-stop shop would be oversimplifying the legal process.
Caitlin Jenkins is a family lawyer and mediator at Mills & Reeve