BOOK Breaking Up presents options, laws and rights associated with divorce, with relevant case studies

For those who are battling with the confusion and questions that follow filing a divorce, here is a guide that might help. Divorce lawyer Mrunalini Deshmukh and her associate Fazaa Shroff-Garg’s new book Breaking Up — Your Step-by-step Guide To Getting Divorced , presents the various options, the laws and rights associated with divorce, with a number of case studies to help relate to a situation.

“I thought that a book on divorce would be socially relevant. Secondly, we find that the divorce cases have gone up and there is a lot of anxiety about the subject. I also felt that I need to share my 17-year experience in the field,” says Mrunalini. A precursor with basic information would help clients come to terms with what they want. “I had to interweave the laws for different religions, vet case studies, and formulate the frequently asked questions section. The hardest thing, by far though, was drafting it in a manner that was easy to read and comprehend for a layperson,” says Fazaa Shroff-Garg.

Breaking down information

Breaking Up took almost two years to complete, as it had to be categorised and the information, broken down. The first category explains the process of divorce, highlights the grounds under all religions, addresses ancillary issues such as alimony, child support and custody and even has check lists. “I sat down with Fazaa and discussed the possibilities this book would offer. We had case studies based on my clientele,” says Mrunalini. Fazaa explains, “Legal jargon tends to make people jittery. So we needed time to write a book that didn’t intimidate. While the case studies are real, name and identities have been changed to protect the clients.” Another challenge the advocates faced was compilation of laws and giving illustrations that people from all walks of life could relate to.

But how do they balance being a counsellor and an advocate? “Several times, I have been able to tell my clients to either make a sincere attempt at reconciliation without involving lawyers or take the help of counsellors when I am not convinced it is divorce material,” Mrunalini says, as Fazaa talks about giving a nudge in the right direction. “Usually clients come with their minds made up. But I have also seen that often they need a nudge in terms of seeking marriage counselling or getting the family to stage an intervention. Being a counsellor does not mean just talking them out of a divorce, but also getting them to understand that divorces can be amicable.”

Are divorces becoming fashionable? Notions of liberation are, they feel. “Certain sections of society — a small percentage, do not really value marriage as a long-term commitment. Also, relationships sometimes become a matter of convenience. When the word ‘we’ is replaced by the word ‘I’ in a relationship, it loses its flavour,” says Mrunalini. Fazaa adds that taking marriage for granted and a serious lack of patience are predominant problems.

( Breaking Up is available at bookstores for Rs. 250)