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July 28, 2011 Articles

Book Review: Collaborative Divorce Handbook

By Dolly Hernandez

The Collaborative Divorce Handbook: Helping Families Without Going to Court, published by Jossey-Bass in 2009, is an excellent and convenient resource for those seeking an in-depth introduction to collaborative practice or as a guide or refresher for those with some experience practicing collaborative law.

The author, Forrest “Woody” S. Mosten, is a family-law attorney who successfully converted his litigation practice to an exclusively alternative dispute resolution (ADR) practice. As he characterizes it, his practice focuses on “peacemaking.” He is also a member of the faculty at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) School of Law. In addition to his own expertise, Mosten also acknowledges a long list of resources, contributors, and authorities and provides a link to a website where the additional materials mentioned in the handbook, including sample letters, protocols, and dispute-resolution strategies, can be found.

The handbook explores topics well beyond the contrast between collaborative law and the other methodologies used to resolve family-law disputes. Some of the topics reviewed in the handbook include communication and negotiation strategies, dealing with impasse, continuing momentum, and marketing a collaborative practice. In addition, the handbook discusses the benefits of utilizing a collaborative team, reviews good client-service tips and client education, and more.

The book is a wealth of information and is easy to use, including well-organized charts, summary practice tips, key terms for fee agreements, and the applicable ABA and state ethics opinions. Better yet, the handbook is concise and organized, and will be helpful for the new or intermediate practitioner seeking to refresh his or her skills before a meeting. Unfortunately, the handbook does not include a table of contents, and the chapter titles do not convey the depth of information included in each chapter.

The handbook is a valuable resource for new and intermediate practitioners of collaborative law as well as those who are considering involvement in the collaborative process, including nonlawyers. The handbook will enhance skills and provides in-depth and practical consideration of issues presented by the collaborative process. It is a worthwhile acquisition for your library.

Keywords: litigation, family law, collaborative divorce, collaborative law

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