Book Review of DIVORCE SUCKS, by Mary Jo Eustace
Reviewer: A New York Divorce Attorney
I didn’t read Divorce Sucks from cover to cover. I didn’t have to. As a divorce attorney, I pretty much got the drift after a few pages. Still, I was going to purchase the book so that I could in fact read it cover to cover at my leisure but I realized at the last minute I did not have any cash in my wallet and since I am on a credit card starvation diet, I had to leave it at the Borders counter and comfort myself with the fact that, for the most part, Mary Jo must have read a few posts on my blog since we agree for the most part on most of the points she makes.
I just want to point out a couple of things: The first is Mary’s declaration that divorce lawyers are “slimy.” I hear that all the time and I take umbrage, I really do. As a divorce lawyer, there have been some personalities/attorneys who thrive on the fight just for the sake of thriving on the fight. No question. And frankly, those types of lawyers get on my nerves and I lose respect for them pretty quickly.
Still, it is a misnomer and a mischaracterization and a stereotype to blame divorce lawyers for protracted, drag down dirty divorce fights between warring couples.
The fact of the matter is, in my experience, it is the attorneys who are often trying to talk sense into the clients and who are trying to get the clients to act like adults and resolve their issues in a rational manner and it is the clients who are so angry with each other, that they can barely hear the attorney, and if they can, the don’t much care about the attorneys’ admonitions about how expensive combative divorces are. They want a fight and they even continue to taunt each other in the courthouse corridors long after the judge has adjourned the case. I can’t tell you how many times that happens!
The fact also is, that when couples divorce, many specifically go looking for the “cut throat” attorneys who can draw the most blood because they want back up for the fight and often times they think the more combative the attorney, the more money they will get.
I don’t say that to offend, but by a very large percentage, most divorces are about the money. Parties also tend to fight over custody too. But many times, who gets custody also gets child support. Sure, I have met parents who could care less about the money and just want the kids. But in the vast majority of cases? The fight is about the money. The equitable distribution. The community property. The alimony. The attacking of the prenuptial agreement to, again, get more money. The fighting for custody to either avoid paying out money, or to get more money. And if the lawyer does not seem sufficiently shark like in this respect? They often get fired for a more vicious lawyer who can get the client the most money.
Not that money is bad. I always say you can’t do anything without it. But clients are very culpable with respect to these battles that are often, as I said, about the money. But the part they don’t want to hear is that a lawyer is entitled to be paid for the amount of time, stress and effort it takes to get them the money they want.
Again, I am not saying that all clients do this. But I would say that in my experience, more do it than those who don’t. It is they who are holding a grudge. It is they who are angry at the spouse. It is they who want their pound of flesh and almost never do they want to listen to a lawyer who tells them to “settle” the case. They see the advice to settle as their spouse “winning.” They just don’t appreciate that where divorce is concerned, there are no “winners.” Not husbands, not wives, and not kids.
That was my beef with the portion of Mary Jo’s book that I read and as a divorce attorney, I just can’t take the rap for protracted divorces in America. And I don’t think that most lawyers are guilty of the charge either. Lawyers and being made the scapegoats for clients who are fighting over who gets how much money. No fair.
Other than that, I found Mary Jo’s tone light, frank and up tempo. She is a good writer and she does not whine too much. She tells it like it is. She is open about the fact that the process “sucked” especially because it was public and she doesn’t pretend to be best friends with Dean and Tori. She says it straight up, “this was not cool.” I like that. I respect that. And it was good to hear her side. I never even thought of her as I watch the occasional episode of Tori and Dean. But there is a real person behind their apparent happiness and it hurt her greatly that her family crumbled just when Tori and Dean decided they had met their “soul mate.” I can’t imagine that is easy on anyone. But I think Mary Jo has handled it with aplomb and with dignity. And she gets to have the last laugh by writing a book….they always said, don’t mess with a writer. They always get the last word….
I may go back to Borders and finish reading the book tomorrow. Although, I am in the middle of so many projects including trying to get through Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenin. I’m only up to the part where Vronsky broke Frou-Frou’s back. So I don’t think I can take on any more reading projects.
Still, I recommend Mary Jo’s book. Based on the little I read, I can see it would be helpful to women who are going through a divorce.
Oh wait. What was the second thing I wanted to point out?……….Jeeze. Can’t remember. Oh well. Here’s a link to the book on Amazon. Get your copy while it’s hot here:
Book Review of DIVORCE SUCKS, by Mary Jo Eustace