A debut manual offers advice on navigating the rocky terrain of divorce.
After her marriage of 25 years ended, Mann felt like a “puddle on the floor.” With time, her pain faded, and now, as an advanced divorce mediator in upstate New York, she has helped thousands of others through the difficult process. Divided into five parts, the author’s pragmatic handbook begins with a defense of mediation, calling it a less adversarial, less expensive alternative to hiring a lawyer. A professional mediator, writes Mann, is skilled in conflict resolution, guiding couples as they write a Memorandum of Understanding, which is a nonbinding summary of agreements concerning the division of assets, child custody, and other issues. When the MOU is processed into the legal system, it becomes a Separation and Property Settlement Agreement. Part 2 of the author’s informative read presents basics of the divorce process and the pros and cons of different filing options. For example, some “Do-It-Yourself” businesses help couples process paperwork but they don’t assist with negotiations. Laying out some cold, hard facts, Part 3 deals with financial issues, such as federal taxes during divorce. Part 4 centers on children, including custody issues and co-parenting. And Part 5 gives some upbeat ideas involving self-care and moving on with life after the breakup. Even when discussing thorny issues, Mann’s accessible prose has a calm, mature tone: “The biggest gift you can give your children is permission to have fun and love the other parent and, by extension, the parent’s partner.” Brimming with useful facts, figures, and tools—such as a calculator for determining spousal and child support—the book presents cleareyed tips. In addition, there is an abundance of gentle emotional advice, like how to tell children the marriage is over. While all of this information may seem overwhelming, Mann provides hands-on help for getting started (for example, a bullet-pointed checklist of assets). The worthy appendices include a budget template and resources for further reading.
A valuable guide for exploring alternatives to divorce lawyers.