08 April 2014

The Essential Family Law Bookshelf

Here are a selection of books that I've stumbled into over the years and found very helpful in my work as a family law litigator, mediator, arbitrator and collaborative practitioner. Most links will take you to the Amazon page for each book.

Separation and Parenting After Separation

Renegotiating Family Relationships: Divorce, Child Custody and Mediation, Dr Robert Emery
This is a great book written by a fellow who's been in the trenches as a mediator. It talks about the psychology of separation, the grieving cycle, children's experience of separation and conflict, and how spouses can be renegotiate their roles as parents following the breakdown of their relationship.
The Truth About Children and Divorce, Dr Robert Emery
This was the first of Dr Emery's books that I happened to read, and I think predates Renegotiating Family Relationships. It is an excellent book that focusses on the emotional dimensions about separation, but also provides a lot of practical advice about dealing with children, making parenting plans and figuring out how both parents can remain engaged in parenting the children after separation. This book provides a lot of insight into how people process separation and deal with strong feelings like anger.
Befriending Your Ex After Divorce: Making Life Better for You, Your Kids and, Yes, Your Ex, Dr Judith Ruskay Rabinor
This book is first and foremost about building a productive, healthy parenting relationship with a former spouse, and is written by a psychologist who draws on her own experience of divorce and remarriage. Separation and parental conflict can be so terribly difficult for children, and one of the strongest buffers parents can give them is a healthy, productive and cooperative parenting relationship. If you're separating and you have children, read this book. 
The Bright Side: Surviving Your Parents' Divorce, Max Sindell
This book is written for children by a person whose parents' split when he was six. The book talks about the author's experiences about his parents' separation, their new relationships and his own relationships with step-parents and step-siblings. It gives some really practical advice to children about how they can avoid being caught in the middle of their parents' dispute. 
Helping Your Kids cope with Divorce the Sandcastles Way, Gary Neuman
This book provides a lot of really helpful information about the nuts and bolts of parenting after separation, with helpful tips about communicating with the other parent, children development, children's reactions to separation as they age, how to tell children about the separation and developing age-appropriate parenting plans.
Courts and Conflict

High Conflict People in Legal Disputes, Bill Eddy
This is book is written by a fellow trained as a lawyer, mediator and social worker and draws heavily on his clinical experience to talk about the sorts of personalities and personality disorders that drive conflict in family law disputes. The book talks about how high-conflict personalities can be identified, managed and how their disputes can ultimately be resolved. This is an essential book for lawyers and other dispute resolution professionals.
Tug of War: A Judge's Verdict on Separation, Custody Battles and the Bitter Realities of Family Court, Justice Harvey Brownstone
The author of this book is a provincial court judge in Ontario, prior to which he worked as a family law lawyer for legal aid. It offers some practical guidance on when you should go to court and when you shouldn't, how to hire a lawyer, and arguments and attitudes that don't work and those that do. It primarily addresses disputes about parenting and child support but should be required reading for anyone thinking of going to court about children.
Dispute Resolution Outside of Court

Collaborative Practice: Deepening the Dialogue, Nancy Cameron Q.C.
This thoughtful book is written by a lawyer who was one of the leaders who brought mediation and collaborative settlement processes to British Columbia, and talks about the profound differences between the resolution of family law matters in court and through more humane out of court processes. It provides helpful tips for the resolution of family law disputes in a collaborative manner and offers in-depth discussions of the roles of coaches, child specialists and financial specialists. This book is primarily directed toward lawyers and mental health professionals.
Family Law Arbitration in Canada, Anne Wilton and Gary Joseph
This book is written for lawyers and others trained in arbitration. It provides a soup-to-nuts overview of the arbitration process, from choosing an arbitrator, to pre-hearing meetings and screenings, arbitration agreements, the conduct of hearings and interim and final awards. This book is as useful, family-law specific follow-up to anyone who has taken training as a generalist arbitrator and wishes to specialize.
Fathers' Rights Groups

Defiant Dads: Father's Rights Activists in America, Jocelyn Crowley
I tracked down this book after experiencing a number of unpleasant attacks by men who were annoyed about my position on bill that would amend the Divorce Act to include a presumption of shared parenting. The author of this book, a professor of public policy, interviewed a coupe of hundred people involved in the father's rights movement in the USA. Her book discusses those interviews and offers a fairly well balanced review of their criticisms of the child support and custody laws, their organization, their attitudes and their strategies to achieve change. It is well worth reading.
Family Law

Family Law Sourcebook for British Columbia, Continuing Legal Education Society of BC
This book is a critical resource for lawyers, but is available to the general public through courthouse libraries. It offers an exhaustive discussion of the major family law subjects, from parenting plans to property division to adoption, all well backed up by comprehensive references to the case law and statute law.
JP Boyd on Family Law, Clicklaw
This wikibook is based on my old website, JP Boyd's BC Family Law Resource, and is fully up to date on the current legislation. It's written in plain language and covers almost every issue in family law in British Columbia, with pop-up definitions for common legal words and phrases, helpful "how do I?" tips and court forms for download. Copies of the book are available at every public library in the province, and all or some of the wikibook may be downloaded as a PDF file or an EPUB format for readers, or printed by an on-demand printer.
If there are books that have made an impact on you as a lawyer, mental health professional or person leaving a relationship, please post a comment with the name of the book, the name of the author and a short description of the contents of the book and why you liked it.