An autobiographical account of an ugly divorce and the insidious effects of parental alienation.
“Every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way,” Leo Tolstoy famously pointed out in his novel Anna Karenina. Joseph, once the proud patriarch of an unhappy family, would likely agree. Years ago, the author and his then-girlfriend Diane married and quickly started a family. Joseph writes that he was a good provider, but Diane grew restless, stepping out to local bars and plotting wild getaways with her girlfriends. Joseph objected to her lifestyle, her materialism and her social climbing, and they eventually separated. In an attempt to avoid further conflict, Joseph didn’t seek any legal help in negotiating their divorce agreement, which gave Diane primary custody of his daughters. It’s a decision that later haunted him, as he says that his ex-wife gradually drove a wedge between him and his children. He writes that she got a restraining order against him after a seemingly innocuous encounter, and later, she made false reports to the police. In the end, he says, Diane’s skillful manipulations destroyed his relationship with his children. This memoir is a sobering look at all that can go wrong when a marriage ends acrimoniously. Unfortunately, its tone is often one of anger. Although the author admits he’s made some mistakes, he writes that Diane is an “evil genius” who bears sole responsibility for the marriage’s collapse; he’s also writes of what he sees as “a master conspiracy” against him, in which Diane’s boyfriend, the local police and family-court judges are all players. However, the lessons of this story will be clear for anyone contemplating a divorce. Readers will appreciate the importance of retaining an attorney to make sure that divorce terms and custody arrangements are clear, and they will also get a clearer understanding of the signs of parental alienation.
A cautionary tale that could help readers minimize the trauma of a contentious divorce.