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Introduction

Your Divorce Advisor

Your divorce advisor

by Diana Mercer, J.D. and Marsha Kline Pruett, Ph.D., M.S.L.

Introduction

The idea for this book came out of years of practice as a matrimonial lawyer and as a clinical psychologist. Our clients would repeatedly ask us questions we could not answer to their satisfaction, because although the questions were related to divorce, the client was asking the lawyer a question about family interactions, or the client was asking the therapist a legal question. We gradually realized how much our fields overlap not only in subject matter, but also in strategy. The old fashioned idea of legal strategy, with its "take no prisoners" tactics, does not work for families. The best strategy from either perspective is to take care of yourself and your family (for you are still a family), especially your children.

As simple as it sounds, this is truly your mantra. You need to know more than post-divorce recovery strategies or tactics for winning your divorce, because neither is enough in itself. You need to know about the process as it unfolds, from the time you decide to separate until after the divorce is finalized. The legal aspects of a divorce simply cannot be separated from the emotional aspects, so that people can get their more frequently asked questions answered all in one place. Writing a book that put everything in one place seemed like the natural solution.

Over the years we've learned that divorce is a land of misinformation perpetrated by well-meaning friends and relatives. Sources of misinformation include parents, bitter friends, neighbors, sitcoms and soap operas. These people may attempt to help, but their circumstances are so different than yours that their advice just doesn't apply to you and your situation. Each family is unique.


Your Divorce Advisor In this book, you'll learn how to recognize issues, both legal and psychological, that pose a problem for you and your spouse. You'll learn how to minimize their effects, while maximizing the benefit you receive from the court by dealing with such issues appropriately. You will learn to consider legal issues from the perspective of their likely emotional impact on you, your ex-spouse, and your children. We will consider children's developmental needs and how they can be taken into account in decision making or negotiating. This book will help you with practical tips and solutions for dealing with both the legal and emotional facets of divorce, so that you don't let one sabotage the other in your own case. We've organized it chronologically, so you can skip through the sections and use it as a reference manual, or start at the beginning and work to the end of the book.

This book takes you along the entire journey of divorce, as it unfolds from pre-divorce decision making and planning through the final settlement or trial. It addresses the simplest to the most complicated legal issues in divorce, as well as the emotional tugs that weave their way through each and every legal issue. It is written from the premise that taking care of yourself and your family is the way to "win" your divorce. It offers practical information, advice, and options at each crossroad during the divorce. It lets you see the whole picture before your divorce is completed and before you are left in the aftermath to figure out what happened and what could have been done differently. By understanding the relationship between what you are thinking or feeling versus what you need to know and do, you and your children will both come out ahead. This book is meant for those want to proceed but don't know how to begin. It is also for those who are in the middle of the legal proceedings but find that they have more questions than just a lawyer or therapist alone could answer. Divorce is a complicated process, both legally and psychologically, and we hope to reach anyone who has a question about how the two parts of the process can work together for the best result for their family.


Your Divorce Advisor Use this book to supplement the advice you receive from your lawyer or therapist. It can be used as a handbook you can refer to at any time, especially at 2 am when you can't sleep or when your lawyer can't call you back fast enough. We help you wind your way through the maze of divorce with a minimum toll on you and your children, so that you can move ahead with your life with as little disruption as possible. Following the advice of this book will help emerge from your divorce as a healthy person who has lost a minimum of dignity, money, property, and time with your children, not to mention sleep.

Divorce is not just a legal change; it is a very personal transition that happens not only to you, but to your children and your extended family. Handled clumsily or with venom, it can have devastating effects that last for years, or even generations. Handled appropriately, it can take its place among other important family events. It can be the path to a new and better life.
- Diana Mercer, J.D. and Marsha Kline Pruett, Ph.D., M.S.L.