Best Books on Divorce

The books here are those that I know to be of high quality and generally useful for most people going through divorce. A book doesn’t make it to this page unless I’ve read it cover to cover and believe it to be solid and broadly applicable. In addition, there are lots of references to other books about divorce issues on the pages where they seem relevant.

+ sign beside a book title indicates some information is hidden. Click the + sign to reveal it

Order Title and Author Info
Crazy Time : Surviving Divorce and Building a New Life, Third Edition, by Abigail Trafford This is a classic, recognized for more than 15 years as the essential guidebook for getting through divorce. Trafford is compassionate, articulate, and ever so savvy about the crud people go through when they have to deal with divorce. Am I gushing? So be it.
How to Avoid the Divorce from Hell : And Dance Together at Your Daughter’s Wedding by M. Sue Talia Sue Talia is one of my heroes. She’s been a successful divorce lawyer in the hotbed of California domestic relations for 20 years, and her book shows it. It’s intelligent, compassionate, thoughtful, and above all, readable. It’s easy to recommend this one for almost anyone going through divorce.
What Every Woman Should Know About Divorce and Custody by Gayle Rosenwald Smith, J.D., and Sally Abrahms This is an extraordinarily sensible, sensitive, and pragmatic book. I recommend it strongly. Interestingly enough, it looks to me as if it would be just as useful for men as for women. One of my favorite sections is “Hot-button Issues.” Things like “The Girlfriend in His Bed,” “Having Your Child Travel Alone,” and “Smoking, Drugs, Drinking, Gambling, and Other Addictions.” For what it’s worth, the full title is What Every Woman Should Know About Divorce and Custody: Judges, Lawyers, and Therapists Share Winning Strategies on How to Keep the Kids, the Cash, and Your Sanity.
Second Chances : Men, Women, and Children a Decade After Divorce by Judith S. Wallerstein It’s hard to overstate the impact Wallerstein had with this book. She wrote it at a time when the mental health community accepted the convention that most of the stress that husbands, wives, and children experience in divorce is short-lived. Wallerstein’s anecdotal research skewered this comfortable assumption, forcing all of us to confront the painful truth that divorce hurts — sometimes for decades. That having been said, though, this is a fundamentally uplifting book. Wallerstein writes well, and her genuine love for the people whose progress she monitors is palpable. Check the listing below for her more recent book.
The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce by Judith S. Wallerstein Judith Wallerstein has become so influential in this area now that it’s getting a little scary. Reporters seem to view her as possessing the holy grail about the effect of children on divorce, even though her research is purely anecdotal. She permeates the culture, so if you want to know how America views divorce, you ought to read this book.
The Good Divorce by Constance R. Ahrons Connie Ahrons is one of those seminal thinkers who has changed the face of divorce around the world, and this is her best-known work. It’s all about changing our fundamental concept of divorce from “breaking up the family” to “redefining the family.” To my knowledge, it was Ahrons who coined the term “binuclear family.” Her ideas may be a little too California for you, but it’s probably worth hearing her perspective.
Mom’s House, Dad’s House by Isolina Ricci Isa Ricci is a powerful author, a compassionate leader, and an all-around neat lady. Mom’s House, Dad’s House may not have started the concept of joint custody and shared parenting, but it sure put it on the map. This is a classic, updated to keep it fresh and relevant.
Cutting Loose : Why Women Who End Their Marriages Do So Well by Ashton Applewhite This one is a feast. There is relatively little of Ashton Applewhite here and a great deal of the heroic, sometimes mundane, sometimes inspiring stories of women who have survived. Fair warning: Applewhite is unabashed in her support of divorce as the correct choice for women locked in bad marriages.

I’m recommending Cutting Loose now for all my female clients who have been living with an abusive man. In addition, though, I’m buying it and giving it to all my male friends who are newlyweds or about to get married. I say that because reading it has given me a new perspective about, and a new approach to, my own marriage. This is good stuff.

Divorce For Dummies by John Ventura Don’t let the title fool you. The dummies are the ones paying their lawyers thousands of dollars and losing control of their divorce. It’s the smart people who are reading books like this so they can think strategically, stay in control, and move on with their lives after divorce. The “____________ for Dummies” format is a simplified, sprightly assortment of tips, tricks, warnings, and explanations, distilled and delivered in paragraphs of no more than two inches. This one is no exception. I found it a little annoying after a while, but it does make manageable the sometimes complex decisions you need to make in divorce.

Ventura is savvy to the stresses people face when they’re going through divorce. Some of my favorite sections are on helping your lawyer to help you, what to expect in a divorce trial, and how to deal with the toughest post-divorce problems.

Divorce and Money : How to Make the Best Financial Decisions During Divorce by Violet Woodhouse I don’t know Violet Woodhouse, but I love her book. This is packed with solid, practical, usable information to help you and your spouse wrestle with the tough financial decisions you’re having to make. This one is pricey, and I wish there were a cheaper version of it. Even at this high price, though, it’s worth it.
Your Pocket Divorce Guide by Linda C. Senn This is a nice, approachable, compact handbook. You won’t find technical details here. Instead, you’ll find simple, practical guidance on the gut issues we face when we go through divorce. Less than 100 pages long, this book focuses on the esoteric (maintaining spiritual health through communing with nature) and the eminently practical (exactly what utensils you need to start over again in the kitchen). Senn is a veteran of divorce who speaks frankly of her own journey from her role as “Mother-and-Savior-of-Everyone” (her words) to a person enjoying “the most amazingly full and rewarding life I could ever have imagined.” Good reading.

Click here to search for other books about divorce

Print Friendly