Do Your Divorce Right
By Andrew Horton and John David Kennedy
$16.95 softcover, 377 pages, 978-0-9827955-3-8 (2011)
This book should be required reading for all couples going through a contested divorce in Maine – it’s that good. Just as couples are routinely sent to Kid’s First, so too should they be required to read this excellent family law guide.
Judge Horton has been on the bench since 1999, Judge Kennedy since 2002, and their knowledge and wisdom shines through on every page. Want experience? The judges note in the introduction that they have “presided over than 10,000 trials or other courtroom events in family law cases.” I’ve been practicing law for over 30 years and was able to glean tidbits of wisdom in every chapter.
The back cover of the book states that it is a guide to help you understand:
• What happens – from separation to final decree – and beyond
• How to find and keep your lawyer
• How to deal with predatory lawyers and difficult ex’s
• Dispute resolution options, including mediation and collaborative divorce
• How to avoid trial – but also how to prepare your case for one if you have to
• What to expect and how to act in the courtroom
• How to impress the judge – in a good way
• Courtroom jargon and rules of evidence
• Use of checklists & sample child custody schedules
• How to achieve closure and peace
As I read through the book, I was amazed at how clear and simple the judges were in explaining somewhat complicated concepts. The judges wisely included a glossary of certain legal terms and concepts at the beginning of the book. That being said, this well-written guide uses layman terms as often as possible.
Judges Horton and Kennedy do an excellent job of pointing out cross-references to other chapters throughout the book. This allows the reader to pick and choose which topic is most relevant to that person. Those who want to read the book cover to cover will not be disappointed. The appendices contain various financial worksheets as well as basic instructions on rules of evidence, a mediation and settlement agreement checklist and sample agreement, and web links to additional information.
This book offers a step-by-step guide to the entire divorce process – and so much more. There is a chapter on appealing your court decision, and the last three chapters of the book deal with post-divorce litigation, including: motions to modify, motions to enforce or for contempt, and starting over, achieving peace. For family law lawyers like myself, there are much-needed pearls of wisdom for those couples facing ongoing issues after the divorce judgment has become final.
What made this book most enjoyable for me, were the numerous sidebars written by the judges detailing their actual courtroom experiences. In talking about the “best interests of the child” rule, for example, Judge Horton wrote this sidebar:
Judges have ways of finding out just how involved a parent has been in a child's life. During a trial over custody in which both parents claim to have been very involved with the child, I asked each parent to write down the names of the child's teachers and doctor. One parent was able to provide all the names without difficulty. The other parent, after much hemming and hawing, admitted to not being able to remember any names, but claimed to have a bad memory for names.
The authors even included a chapter on people involved in high-intensity, high conflict family law cases and determining in those situations if one or both of the lawyers involved might be the root of the problem. The judges then go on to describe how some family lawyers evolve into twerps, bulldogs, or sharks. I smiled reading the definitions of those lawyers and nodded my head thinking of a few lawyers in each of the categories. (After reading this chapter, you lawyers out there will know who you are.)
After reading this book, it’s abundantly clear that the title fits perfectly. It’s not “Do Your Divorce” – it’s “Do Your Divorce Right.” The addition of that single word makes all the difference. The authors emphasize over and over how to do things right at every state of the proceedings. I’m convinced that if more people were required to read this book at the beginning of their divorce that there would be fewer cases going to trial and more agreements reached.
Whether you are thinking about a divorce, going through one, or you’re a lawyer representing someone in a divorce, order a copy of this book today. It’s no wonder that all reviews on Amazon have given it five stars. For lawyers who practice extensively in family law, pick up a dozen copies and hand them out to your clients. It’ll save you a lot of time and effort in explaining the divorce process to your clients; they’ll learn all they need to know about dealing with their soon-to-be ex-spouse and their children; and they’ll be better prepared to assist you in the divorce process.
For those going through this often heart-wrenching process, judges Horton and Kennedy have provided an excellent guide for both pro se divorce litigants in Maine and their lawyers alike. You won’t be able to find a more helpful source of information.
Buy it on Amazon here.