What do Heidi Klum, Ashton Kutcher, Christina Aguilera, and Stevie Wonder have in common? They were all represented by divorce attorney Laura Wasser. In an exclusive Q&A, Laura explains her reasons for writing the new book, It Doesn't Have to Be That Way, and offers some important tips for couples considering divorce.
Laura Wasser has spent two decades representing clients through painful dovorces. In her new book, It Doesn't Have to Be That Way: How to Divorce Without Destroying Your Family or Bankrupting Yourself, Laura outlines an entirely new perspective on divorce - one that makes things easier for everyone involved.
Quick and Dirty Tips sat down with Laura to ask her a few questions about the new book and her experiences:
Quick and Dirty Tips: After 20 of practicing family law, what inspired you to write a book?
Laura Wasser: Over the past 20 years, particularly during the last 5, it occurred to me that parties going through the dissolution process often go in hugely uninformed. Ignorance paired with an emotionally and financially devastating life crisis can be dangerous. Family law attorneys will often make a lot of money to the detriment of clients and their families. There are so many friends and clients I have heard say, "If only I knew then what I know now."
I have a message to give to people contemplating or going through this experience, a message that spans socioeconomic, gender and age groups: It doesn't have to be that way. Our generation has the tools available to us by virtue of education, the internet, mental health and counseling opportunities that our parents' generations and those before them did not have. By employing these tools and having a relatively user-friendly guide, I believe the divorce process can be simplified and improved.
QDT: Most people getting divorced hire a lawyer anyway. What can you book offer to these people?
LW: There is probably no such thing as a good divorce, but clinging to an old idea of how relationships are unraveled can make a bad thing even worse.
For the truth is that there is a whole new way to dissolve your relationship - really a whole new choice of ways to do it. The evolution in family law has been accompanied by advances in mediation, collaborative practice, and self-representation, by the development of support and counseling practices, and by a substantive body of data on the impact of dissolution, direct and indirect, on all parties. And there is a whole new cadre of divorce lawyers - like me - who know how to help their clients navigate this new territory and emerge from it strong in mind, spirit, and resources and eager to move on to the next stage of their lives.
It Doesn't Have to Be That Way will guide readers through every step of the process - from first saying the word "divorce" out loud to walking away with a final settlement. I discuss at each stage what's real about today's process - and how that may differ from your perception and from the way things used to be - and I offer suggestions for the best way to come through each stage as the master of your own destiny. At the end, my hope is that readers and their children, if they have them, will emerge safe, sound, financially secure, and prepared to take up the next challenge of their lives.
QDT: Why did you decide to become a divorce lawyer?
LW: My father was (and is) a divorce attorney. At the time I was going through my own divorce. I thought I would work at his firm for a few months while I waited for my Bar results and then move on. I stayed because I found that family law gives me the opportunity to problem solve and help an array of very interesting people who pass through this office.
QDT: Have you ever been divorced and did it change how you saw and handled your clients' divorce cases?