Going through a divorce is an emotionally and financially taxing time. To make matters worse, the complexities of the unknown process and the adversarial conflict that often accompanies divorces increase the stresses tenfold. One has to ask, “can you have a civilized divorce and minimize the financial and emotional conflict?” Attorney – Mediator Katherine E. Stoner answers this question with an unflinching, “Yes!” Her book, “Divorce Without Court: A Guide to Mediation & Collaborative Divorce, 2nd Edition” provides a guide to the steps necessary to negotiate a divorce settlement using divorce mediation or the new innovative approach called collaborative divorce. Even if you chose to go through a divorce the traditional way with both parties “lawyering up,” I believe the advice in this book could prove useful in finding resolution, especially if your state requires mediation during the process.
Like all Nolo books, this guide helps make the law accessible to the layperson. It is an easy to read and user friendly guide to the mediation portion of divorce and the newer collaborative divorce. The book does a good job of explaining what mediation is and what the collaborative divorce process is, and then how to find a mediator or collaborative attorney.
Then there are chapters to help you find advisers when needed in the process, gathering information to assist with the process, preparing for your first session, evaluating your progress, effective communication, and negotiation. There is also a chapter on court-sponsored mediation, and another that looks at some of the difficulties that arise during mediation and collaboration of divorce. There is a short chapter on writing up the agreement, and then a short chapter on women and men in mediation and collaborative divorce. The final chapters are on unmarried couples using the processes and using mediation and collaboration after divorce. The book concludes with an appendix that contains a few forms that will be helpful during the process.
If you are going to go through a divorce without representation, this is not the ONLY guide you will need. It will be important to obtain references that include a lot of the nuts and bolts of divorce. This book is very good to help with the process, and to find a mediator or collaborative attorney to assist you. Sometimes courts will also have guides available for people that explain the nuts and bolts. If you have a complex divorce, finding a good mediator or collaborative attorney will be very beneficial, and this guide will assist. The book does not show you exactly how to divide things, just how to work together with a mediator to get it done.
I do think this book will be extremely valuable as an addition to the nuts and bolts type book for anyone who wants to avoid a messy litigated divorce and attempt a mediation or collaborative approach. As an attorney-mediator myself, I believe in mediation 100%. It can be so much more effective than litigating. I don’t have the experience with collaborative divorce, but have learned more about the collaborative areas of law during continuing legal education conferences and believe it to be a process that can greatly assist people in certain areas. If you are facing divorce, regardless if you have an attorney or will do it yourself, Stoner’s “Divorce Without Court: A Guide to Mediation & Collaborative Divorce” can save you time, money, and reduce the stress associated with an already extremely difficult situation.