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Quick Lit | Arathi Menon

If you are thinking of getting divorced, or going through one, and you pick up Breaking Up: Your Step-By-Step Guide to Getting Divorced, by divorce lawyers Mrunalini Deshmukh and Fazaa Shroff-Garg, then do skip the introduction. It’s just the sort of thing that will set your teeth on edge with platitudes like “divorce has become fashionable", and so on. The last thing emotional trauma needs is moralizing.

Once that is done, the book will be useful. It is a light, rather than a heavy, read about the legalese around divorce. The authors clearly state the grounds, procedures and all the other realities that people forget in the emotional fog that they go through while getting a divorce.

The book is commendable, considering that in India, marriage and its dissolution don’t come under one Act. There are laws specific to Hindu, Christian and Parsi marriages, as well as the Special Marriage Act. All these different Acts come with their innumerable clauses and complexities. Compressing this information overload into a friendly 200-odd-page book is indeed quite remarkable.

The book also has clear checklists, FAQs (frequently asked questions) and important aspects explained in point and table form to aid readability. Particularly fascinating are the case studies mentioned, which tell the readers what went wrong, the lawyers’ advice and, in most cases, their resolution. While the cases discussed may not be exactly like the case you are going through, it always appeals to the voyeur in each of us to read about how someone else’s life got all messed up. Though some of the stories are sad and brutal, one specific case stood out for me with its highly interesting reference to a post-divorce honeymoon.

My only grouse against the book is that there is no index that readers can quickly refer to. So if you want to just look up legal advice that is relevant to your particular case, you will have to go through the entire book and mark out the sections that are pertinent.

Is anyone going to bother to do this in today’s Internet age? Well, that’s difficult to say. Though Google will shower the anxious seeker of information on divorce with truckloads of facts, many are, understandably, wary about the authenticity of the information on the Internet.

In this sense, this book has good pedigree. It comes from two certified, practising lawyers, one of whom has 17 years of experience, so you do feel a bit more confident about the information.

If you are going through a divorce and your lawyer isn’t someone you particularly trust, do buy the book. In troubled times, there is no such thing as too much information. If you are contemplating a divorce, and still living with your maybe-soon-to-be-ex-spouse, then you must read this book. It will give you an idea of what’s in store for you, legally. Though the question is, where will you hide it?

Arathi Menon writes Dancing Divorcee, a weekly happy, sad, funny, obnoxious blog on the misadventure called divorce.

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