Shared Parenting Information Group (SPIG) UK

- promoting responsible shared parenting after separation and divorce -

Divorce - A Guide for Men (review)

Leonard Kerpelman (1983); Icarus Press

Although written for the American Divorced Father, it is an excellent publication, and Fathers throughout the world would be well advised to read it. Among the advice given is how to deal with all the situations put up by your ex-spouse's lawyer, what instructions to give to your own lawyer, how to handle hostile reactions in court.

It also has an excellent chapter for pressure groups on how to become more effective. Many of these ideas might be effectively tried out by local men's groups.

The author, Leonard Kerpelman, practices domestic relations law for male litigants in Baltimore, Maryland. He has written for or been quoted on this subject in major American Newspapers and Magazines including Time, The Washington Post, The New York Times, UPI and many others.

This could be the best buy you could ever make in light of your present divorce case. It is a gold mine of information and a rich one at that, having been written by a sympathetic, understanding and unbiased lawyer.

An extract from the book

Short of death, the worst trauma to befall a human being is divorce. I have practiced domestic-relations law for over twelve years, representing only men. I have seen the devastation that divorce cases cause. The litigation is often more damaging than the breakup itself, which is saying a great deal, but in the eyes of the law, the man is a "disfavoured party". He is not in a fair game; rather, he is playing Russian Roulette with all chambers loaded.

Worst of all, there is no competent information to be had on how to handle this predicament; nor, more importantly is there any reliable information available on just what the predicament is.

The important factors that will structure the outcome and the whole future life of the parties involved and, particularly, that of the man, are difficult to recognize. They are, at one and the same time, infinitely variable and manipulable. They require experience, knowledge and determination. They are factors that are highly psychological and emotional, often even political, and, further, they often must be weighed one against another, balanced and chosen. The skill and experience required would make a brain surgeon unsure of himself, and the outcome can never really be foreseen.

In other words, it is a most complex and sophisticated area of litigation. Yet the ordinary male litigant has no idea where to seek reliable information or help, nor how to handle that information and help properly when he comes upon it.

This book seeks to remedy that failure, and to bring you through this vast crisis whole, satisfied with the outcome, and perhaps even happy.

Doubtless, you were blissfully married at one point. Blissful, perhaps in the sense of being in a state of stupor.

When the bliss-filled state has finally worn off, you become convinced it is time to move on to other things. Often it is an either-or proposition: Move on to other things or into the loony ward, or worse yet perhaps, into the holding cells where they prepare to try wife-murderers.

This book is not for wives in such circumstances. They have special problems about which I am not an expert. This book, however, is for the poor beleaguered husbands, whom I do know about. As an attorney, I have, for a dozen years and several thousands of cases, dealt exclusively with them and their very special problems - with the headaches, heartaches, tears, and often, laughter, that is their special lot in life at a time like that.

When the bliss has departed.

When it is time to find the right lawyer (perhaps the greatest problem of all) and time to find the right fathers' group.

Your problem will be simple. It will be to find a competent lawyer and a strong fathers' group to assist you in organizing, planning and presenting a strong and forceful courtroom psychodrama leading to the rendering of a just and unbiased decision between two entangled human beings whom the law absolutely assures shall be treated equally and without favour.

The statement of the problem is simple. The execution of the solution is not. It requires the shedding of misconceptions, the acquisition of knowledge, and the accumulation of courtroom savvy and experience.

And because competent legal assistance in this field is so hard to acquire, your struggle and preparation will also require an adept knowledge of how to control your lawyer after selecting him, when not to control him, when to have confidence in him and when to be suspicious, how and what to discuss with him, and what is superfluous, burdensome, counterproductive, or even dangerous to your case should you insist on using it.

This book will guide the way.

In order to present the means by which you, a litigant involuntarily involved in a deep life crisis, may best resolve that crisis with equanimity, knowledge and purpose so that it may be resolved successfully, I will follow, chronologically, the stages of that crisis. I will also enumerate the steps to be taken to obtain the best help possible, the most accurate knowledge available, and will explain the use of that specific method that many, many others have found will succeed.

To illustrate at once that it is very important not to trust any of the 'conventional wisdom' in the field of fathers' rights and men's divorce law, there follow six examples of cases chosen from real life, disguised and mixed together, but as real as can be, for in my law practice not one of these situations has occurred less than twenty times. They are all common, all ordinary, and all excellent illustrations of the point of the next chapter: Do not trust what you have heard about any men's divorce and custody problem. Rather seek the help of those experienced in success - those few lawyers and those knowledgeable fathers' groups that have had the experience of much trial ... and ... error success, who have learned the sad and hard way what must be done, what cannot be done, even what answers are as yet unknown, and which problems cannot be worked out - for there are some of these. Fortunately these problems are few and small when compared with five and ten years ago.

Best of all, a good attorney and a good fathers' group particularly will have the latest information about succeeding. And the fathers' group, if you help it by joining, by pitching in, by giving it another voice and another vote, will be more than happy to make all of its knowledge and considerable resources available to you.

Its members will also assist you, with their inward knowledge in handling the most difficult and dismal problem of all - the problem of your lawyer. And they will assist you in recognizing what to do, what to aim for, and how to succeed. I hope that you will know more about these things than your lawyer will, which, unfortunately, may not be saying much. But you will be able to protect yourself from his ignorance and blunders if these arise, and in the end you can succeed like many happy others have succeeded.

So study the following cases with honest scepticism, and compare your present ideas of what can and should be done with the collective experience of others who have been where you are now and have learned what to do about it.

The opinions expressed are mine. I hold them stubbornly. They are based on the experience of approximately three thousand men's cases I have handled.

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