Book Reviews

Divorce doesn't have to be a hideous thing. "Graceful Divorce Solutions: A Comprehensive and Proactive Guide to Saving You Time, Money, and Your Sanity" is a guide to happier divorces, something that to many at first sight seems like an oxymoron. Advising readers to remember their family, understand the needs, understand why you're breaking up, and more, "Graceful Divorce Solutions" is a thoughtful read anyone who wants to end their union with less bad blood should consider.

Midwest Book Review Oregon, WI

Thank you Marcy Jones for writing this book. You have said everything I always hope I remember to tell my clients when they are in for an initial consultation. Your words are easy to read and understand, and are a wonderful "take away" for clients as they begin their journey through the divorce process. Your words empower clients to understand that they do have a say in how their divorce goes. I use this book regularly as a gift to my clients, for their use, as they determine how they want to proceed.

Lisa Schenkel

M. Marcy Jones has given psychotherapists, lawyers, mediators, and all other divorce consultants a wonderful resource for clients who are contemplating, or have decided to divorce. Graceful Divorce Solutions is a thorough walk through various models of dispute resolution that will help your clients seriously consider alternatives to fighting in Court. The book is well written and clear. Each chapter offers a look at a different model, but the entire book is packed with helpful and thought provoking information for our clients who are confused, overwhelmed, and fearful of making bad choices.

Ms. Jones' own passion for peace-making comes through in her writing, but she is not preachy. I have given this book to several clients who were already interested in mediation or Collaborative divorce processes, but whose spouse had already retained a litigating attorney. I suggested to my clients that they give Graceful Divorce Solutions to their spouse, and simply ask them to spend a half hour skimming it. No pressure -- just an invitation to look beyond traditional, adversarial modes of making decisions. In each case, my client called or emailed me within a few weeks to let me know that Jones' book did its work effectively and the couple was on the path towards resolving their disputes with some respect and integrity intact.
My biggest problem with Marcy Jones' book is that my clients take the borrowed copies and don't bring them back. Then I run out of my pile, and I have to buy more of them! But the book is well worth the cost if you are committed to helping your clients find a healthy path forward that will protect their children, their pocketbooks, and their sanity.

Lisa Herrick, PhD, Clinical Psychologist, Collaborative Coach Washington, DC

In the interest of full disclosure, I'm an attorney, but not a family law attorney. My wife is a family law attorney, and we're both friends of the author, Marcy Jones.

Marcy's book educates you about divorce and child custody processes so that you can make wise choices about the particular process you use, and she helps you select the right attorney to guide you through the process. As an experienced family law attorney, Marcy knows that those initial decisions at the very beginning of the divorce affect much more than the resulting divorce and child custody arrangements. They govern the potential success of your co-parenting efforts, and they affect the future emotional health and welfare of your children.

Far too often, divorcing parents make ill-informed choices that leave a decades-lasting legacy of antagonism, mistrust, and anger, while wasting the family resources on lawyers' fees. Graceful Divorce Solutions provides the information you need to navigate the divorce minefield, while minimizing the expense and emotional damage caused by the journey.

There are situations for which the family law courts are the appropriate forum for resolving the issues. Graceful Divorce Solutions describes those situations and provides you with clear, easy-to-understand guidance for dealing with them. However, for most people, there are better alternatives to the courts -- collaborative divorce, mediation, and even do-it-yourself -- that will allow you and your family to emerge from the divorce with your relationships and your finances largely intact. Marcy explains each of these processes and provides case studies and assessment exercises to help you decide which one might be appropriate for your situation.

As a lawyer, I've worked on family law cases that were still being contested years after the final divorce decree had been signed by the judge. These cases were reliable income streams for the law firm, but the relationships between the parents and between the children and their parents had been destroyed by years of hostility. Don't go down this road if you have a choice. Graceful Divorce Solutions will teach you how to make those better choices.

Paul G. Sherland Wharton, TX

Attorney, mediator, and collaborative divorce coach, Marcy Jones, educates her readers regarding all aspects of obtaining a divorce without losing your mind. "Graceful Divorce Solutions" offers multiple vehicles for learning "how to" get a divorce that works well for all people involved, including children.

Because this time in a distressed couple's life can be vexed, like riding a never-ending roller-coaster, guidance and correct information are vital to skillfully negotiate the labyrinth called our legal system. And yet, when your life feels upside down, the last thing you feel like doing is learning how to work with the ins and outs of a truly upside down legal system.

Marcy Jones's book serves as free legal counsel and offers you room to explore your own questions, needs and fears in this wholly accessible guide. One of the best ways to steel yourself for what's to come and boost your self-confidence is to find out about the laws that apply to divorce and the legal processes involved in getting a divorce.

Prior to becoming a collaborative attorney, Jones, herself, survived working with our archaic legal system in going through her own divorce. Both her husband and past bosses were practicing attorneys who frequently used an adversarial approach to "solve" disagreements. The word "collaborative" was rarely used or thought of positively and would certainly prove less profitable for the firm. There seemed to always be a "winner" and a "loser" in the court of law, according to Jones. For most, that's just the way the system rolls.

Wading through the swamp of the legal system on one's own becomes less and less desirable. There's no doubt that people need experienced guidance. Jones offers her readers exactly this kind of help. She shares not only useful information on collaborative divorce but also on the current practices inside family divorce law. As such, through writing exercises and useful summaries in each chapter, she helps readers decide which way they may want to go.

One of Marcy Jones's favorite slogans that she uses more than a few times in her book is "Knowledge is Power." There is no doubt that "Graceful Divorce Solutions" is equal to several empowering consultations with a wise divorce coach, family counselor and one who knows the "ins and outs" of the current legal system. Jones gives divorcing couples, and those who care about creating a peaceful end to their marriage, practical support that they will not get anywhere else, certainly not for free.

"Graceful Divorce Solutions" will enable any spouse to bypass the truly awful, adversarial process of the courts and find a collaborative result that will surely leave each member part of a humane, compassionate and viable future.

Jennifer L. Manlowe Seattle, WA

"Graceful Divorce Solutions" by Marcy Jones fulfills its subtitle's promise to save you "Time, Money, and Your Sanity." As a lawyer, Jones realized the need for people to understand their options when divorcing, and for lawyers to understand the emotional components of a divorce. Jones decided to practice family law so she could look for ways to fix a broken legal system not created for or conducive to dealing with family issues.

Jones thoroughly explains why the legal system should not be involved in most divorce cases, including that law was designed for criminal issues and to settle disputes between people who had done business together but who would not have long-term relationships afterward. By contrast, when two spouses divorce who have children, they remain a family and need to communicate with each other on a regular basis. The legal system's way of turning a husband and wife against each other is not conducive to ongoing communication between the couple after the divorce, and especially not beneficial to the children's welfare.

Jones became a practitioner of family law in hopes to find a better way for families to go through divorce. Following her own divorce, Jones went back to school to become a lawyer. While initially, she didn't know what legal difference she could make, she realized her goals should be two-fold, namely to:

first, change the way lawyers think about and handle divorces
second, get honest, reliable information to the clients about their options so they can be actively involved in their own divorce process

When Jones heard about collaborative divorce, she thought she had found her answer. This process allows for a couple to divorce without having to go to court while their lawyers work with them, rather than against one another, to bring about a settlement that both parties find acceptable. When Jones discussed this new process with her legal coworkers, however, she found resistance from them:

When I went to the senior partner at the firm I was in at the time to ask whether I could go to a two-day basic training in collaborative practice, he looked at the information and responded, "This isn't practicing law." In his mind, if you weren't preparing to go to court, you weren't practicing law. If you weren't preparing for court, then you must be afraid to go to court and fight the fight, which is, after all, what lawyers are trained to do!

Precisely because lawyers are taught to fight in court, a procedure that can result in spouses turning against each other and children being caught in the middle, Jones was determined to seek a different approach. Despite opposition from colleagues, she has gone on to practice collaborative divorce successfully with her clients. Jones feels the clincher that makes the collaborative divorce process most effective is that "the couple agreed from the outset not to go to court. When the threat of 'going to court' is taken out of the picture, it changes the whole dynamic."

Jones realizes not all marriages can end peacefully with a collaborative divorce, although many can with cooperation from both spouses. Jones discusses, therefore, the different available divorce processes: "litigation, lawyer/lawyer negotiation, mediation, Do It Yourself, and collaborative divorce" so her readers can make an informed decision about which option is right for them. She also goes into detail about the different aspects of divorce, clarifying that a couple really must go through four divorces: legal, financial, social, and emotional.

The difference with collaborative divorce, or any of the processes other than litigation, is that the matter can be settled peacefully outside of court and the couple can follow its own agenda rather than that of family members, lawyers, or a court docket. With the collaborative process, a collaborative divorce team can be assembled to consist of two lawyers, one or two divorce coaches, a child specialist, and a financial specialist, and still be more cost effective than conventional divorce methods. Such divorces can often be settled within a half dozen or less meetings by the collaborative divorce team, and Jones has personally seen both spouses leave happily and thank both lawyers for their ability to compromise and focus on what will be best for all the family members involved.

Admittedly, lawyers have a bad name, but Marcy Jones has written a book that redeems many of them by showing that lawyers can care about people rather than just fighting with each other and billing their clients for their time. At the end of "Graceful Divorce Solutions," Jones shows her first thought is for the client, even at the risk of lost book sales, because she asks readers to pass the book on to others so they can also learn about and benefit from collaborative divorce. She hopes she has done her small part to bring about resolution rather than conflict when a marriage must end, and by extension, to help people find peaceful and even satisfying solutions to their problems, not only when divorcing but in any of life's conflicts. Marcy Jones and the Collaborative Divorce process serve as models for what life can be when we seek resolution rather than conflict.

Tyler R. Tichelaar author of the award-winning "Narrow Lives"