Divorce isn’t for the faint of heart. Just ask Renee Bauer. “Divorce makes the strongest people weak in the knees,” said Bauer, a principal in Hamden’s Bauer Law Group who has watched many a client struggle through a break-up.
Now Bauer has written a book on the subject. Unlike many written works by Connecticut lawyers, this one isn’t a scholarly look at caselaw or alimony formulas. Instead, the simply titled “Divorce in Connecticut” is a how-two paperback written in simple, non-legal language and aimed at the average consumer.
“When someone is going through a divorce, they have so many questions. Sometimes they turn to their attorneys for answers. Sometimes they turn to the Internet. Sometimes they turn to friends and family,” Bauer said. “Not all advice is good advice. This book was meant to help those people move through this time of transition with clarity and ease.”
Bauer said the book is not meant to be a substitute for formal legal advice but “it is designed to create a better understanding of the divorce process so people can maintain some peace throughout the divorce journey.”
“I hope to empower people to make sound, rational decisions throughout the divorce. Decisions that resound in knowledge are better than those decisions made from emotion and grief,” she said of the book, which was officially released Jan. 6.
The book uses a Q&A format and includes questions such as:
• Should I hire a “bulldog” — a very aggressive attorney?
• I am still so angry at my spouse; how can I be expected to sit in the same room during a settlement conference?
• My spouse is posting inflammatory messages on Facebook and Twitter about me. What can I do about this?
• If my mother pays my legal fees, will my lawyer give her private information about my divorce?
The book is being publishe by Addicus Books, of Nebraska, and will be sold on Amazon.com and in bookstores.
This isn’t Bauer’s first foray into book writing. In 2009, she authored a book called: “The Ultimate Guide to Solo and Small Firm Success,” by LawFirst Publishing, which is the Connecticut Bar Association’s publishing company.
Rod Colvin, publisher of Addicus Books, describes the divorce book as very “reader friendly.”
“It’s not difficult to comprehend. A lot of good information is provided in bite-size chunks,” Colvin said. “There is so much you need to understand legally when divorcing. If you do not understand, you could end up getting a divorce that ends up being totally unfair…and it could be costly, literally. This book helps someone going through divorce become an informed consumer.”
The publishing company has signed 23 attorneys to write books on divorce in their particular state. “So far, six books from various states are off the press,” he said. “The rest of the books are in development, and the entire project is moving along smoothly. Eventually, we would like to have a book for each state.”
Because each divorce case is “fact-specific,” Bauer said it’s hard for couples who are splitting up get good information from another person —for example, a friend or co-worker— who may have gone through a divorce. “It’s not a one-size-fits-all,” she said, adding that some people think: “If my friend’s brother got this result, I should, too.”
With that caveat, she does hope this guide will offer generally helpful information. “Sometimes just having knowledge is power,” Bauer said. “Some attorneys take the time to explain [the process]. Others don’t.”
One thing Bauer has noticed while practicing family law is that people get “very emotional and they make decisions based on emotions, not factual information.”
One example is when a client wants to keep living in a family home, but cannot financially afford to on one income. In other cases, people react out of bitterness or resentment. “Sometimes the kids get tangled up in the parents’ feelings for each other,” Bauer said. “The children are being exposed to things they shouldn’t be.”
In addition to handling divorce cases for adults, Bauer acts as a guardian ad litem for children and also does mediation work. In addition to her books, she has authored multiple articles, including “Sexting Dangers,” which was published in Connecticut Lawyer in 2010.
Bauer said that writing “is sort of a hobby of mine.” When she heard the publishing company was looking for someone to write a divorce book in Connecticut, she “jumped at the chance.”
Colvin, the Addicus Books publisher, said Bauer was qualified to write the book because she has “years of experience in working in family law, especially divorce cases. If you’re getting a divorce, you need an attorney with experiences who can help. She brings a lot of experience to the table.”
He continued: “When a person decides on a divorce, not only is it emotional and traumatic, but there is a lot you need to know….about such things as child custody and division of debt. And, life does not come with a training manual on how to handle all this legal information.”•