Getting Divorced? A reading list.

by | 1 Feb 2021

If you’re looking for book suggestions to help you through divorce, here are some of my current favourites.

There’s an overlap between books that address divorce directly and those that deal with some of the wider issues – like parenting, emotional adjustment and reassurance.

Divorce requires you to take on a lot of information and I find books balance out the Google overwhelm. These books are great reference points and do not necessarily need to be read cover-to-cover, although I have read all of them in their entirety. This reading list is just a start and it is neither exhaustive nor final!

Parenting

The Book you Wish your Parents had Read – Philippa Perry
This book helps you keep a long-view of the parenting journey. It’s not so much a ‘how to’ in an immediate sense but an outline of parenting principles and a philosophy that promotes a good relationship with your children first and foremost. I especially like Perry’s distinction between ‘pain’ and ‘damage’.

When Parents Part – Penelope Leach
This book came out around five years ago and – in contrast to Perry’s book – is quite didactic in its approach, telling you to do X or avoid Y. It addresses issues you may be experiencing as a separated parent and gives you a view to the future. If you’re facing a conflict with your ex, this book may be helpful to you as a starting point as you choose what to do or decide it something is worth a fight. While it remains up to you (both) to make decisions for your children but many parents I speak to find it helpful to hear from an authority on child development to guide them as they consider what’s in their own children’s best interests.

The Divorce Process

The Family Lawyers Guide to Separation and Divorce – Laura Naser
I recommend all clients have a book or reliable reference point about the legal process of divorce. Google has its strengths but it is also a source of myths and misconceptions. Your lawyer is also an excellent (but expensive) source of information. Naser’s book bridges this gap: is clear and not too overwhelming: an asset to both of you from the beginning of your divorce process. I frequently recommend following Laura on Instagram – a friendly face of family law. @thefamilylawyer

In Your Defence – Sarah Langford
This book includes one chapter about a family law case that gets dragged through the courts. It’s a view from the inside track – Langford was a barrister – as to how divorce can go wrong (I am of the opinion that court should always be a last resort, and never a first option), and take a really long time if you are unable to agree with your ex. I often find clients want a day in court and/or have flawed expectations about how going to court can and can’t serve them, so this is a helpful place to start if you want to know what it’s really like.

Emotional Wellbeing
Better Apart: The Radically Positive Way to Separate – Gabrielle Hartley with Elena Brower
My favourite thing about ‘Better Apart’ is that it encourages you to consciously reframe divorce from the start, so that divorce can be a positive turning point rather than a time of trauma. This book doesn’t guide you on the legal advice (and it’s American) but goes deep on the practical and emotional facets. The authors offer a wealth of suggestions from Ho’oponopono to journalling to practising forgiveness (Hartley is a lawyer/mediator and Brower a yoga teacher). There’s also an excellent list of resources at the back to help you build a great future.

Failosophy: a Handbook for When Things Go Wrong – Elizabeth Day
You may know Day from her hugely popular podcast ‘How to Fail with Elizabeth Day’ or her first best-selling book ‘How to Fail’. ‘Failosophy’ is her latest book, and I’d recommend it to everyone. After all, we all go through moments of feeling like a failure. This guide is a handbook that discusses seven principles and will leave you feeling better. (PS Although I include this book and recommend it wholeheartedly, I am also of the opinion that divorce is not a failure, and neither does it make you one). Another reason for including this book is because Day has been through a divorce herself.

Misc
Superthinking – Gabriel Weinberg & Lauren McCann
This might seem like an unexpected inclusion as it has nothing (obvious) to do with divorce. This fascinating book teaches you how to ‘upgrade your reasoning’. This is especially relevant to anyone facing the prospect of reading a statement from their ex (if you don’t understand ad hominem fallacy or straw man arguments or appeal to emotion or Occam’s razor, time to learn) and also to anyone reframing their concept of divorce and wanting to think differently.

Of course a book can only go so far: if you’re looking for divorce support that uses strategy and psychology, as a coach (and divorcée), I am uniquely positioned to provide this. If you’d like a complimentary call to find out more, you can book here.

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