This post covers the best divorce books from memoirs to workbooks, legal guides, mental health during divorce, and children’s books. My own divorce experience has helped me to curate a list that cover the breadth of your needs at this difficult time. The majority of the listed books are also available in audiobook and kindle formats.
The books include the following categories (click to go to the desired section):
- Making the divorce decision
- The peaceful divorce
- Divorce recovery and mental health
- Legal guides
- Parenting, co-parenting, and step-parenting
- Children’s books
- Teen books
- The separation
- Dating after divorce
- Same sex divorce
- Religions and divorce
- Books for seniors
- Books for men
- Novels focused on divorce
Making the divorce decision
Most people are unhappy a long time, as I was, before the decision to divorce is made. The following books are helpful guides to walk you through your thoughts, experiences, and your decision making.
1.Too Good to Leave, Too Bad to Stay: A Step-by-Step Guide to Help You Decide Whether to Stay In or Get Out of Your Relationship by Mira Kirshenbaum. This book is written by a psychotherapist and gives you questions you can use to understand your marriage problems and decide whether the marriage can ever make you happy. While it’s an older book (1997), it has remained popular, relevant, and useful.
2. Should I Stay or Should I Go?: A Guide to Knowing if Your Relationship Can–and Should–be Saved by Lundy Bancroft and JAC Patrissi. This book is similar to “Too Good to Leave” but written by a experts in trauma and abuse. The focus is on identifying root issues and making plans for the future with or without him. Straightforward and compassionate.
The peaceful divorce
My personal divorce was mostly conflict-free, and I would love to see everyone else have a similar experience. The books below are great guides to coming through the experience with as much peace and as little contention as possible.
3. The Good Karma Divorce: Avoid Litigation, Turn Negative Emotions into Positive Actions, and Get On with the Rest of Your Life by Judge Michele Lowrance. This book is focused on avoiding trial, and it has a good track record for success. It is a very warm-hearted book with an emphasis on forgiveness and practical wisdom. If you are going through a divorce, I highly recommend both parties read this book.
4. I Just Want This Done: How Smart, Successful People Get Divorced without Losing their Kids, Money, and Minds by Raiford Palmer. This book is written by a family law attorney and is full of practical advice such as how to choose a lawyer, minimizing costs, protecting your business, and child custody. I feel this would be a good book to read in combination with the more idealistic “The Good Karma Divorce.”
5. Conscious Uncoupling: 5 Steps to Living Happily Even After by Katherine Woodward Thomas. This book is focused on emotional healing and gaining control over your life during your divorce. It is another warm book, like “Karma” but more focused on your personal happiness.
6. The Good Divorce: Keeping Your Family Together When Your Marriage Comes Apart by Constance Ahrons. Another good read, this book is more focused on the family than the others in this group. It talks about the process of creating a “binuclear family,” as the couple separates.
Divorce recovery and mental health
I’m not sure anyone gets through divorce without some negative impact on their mental health. There is grieving, anxiety, and often depression. Sometimes there is a major shift in your identity or vision of the future. I experienced all of those things and can recommend the following books, whether you are currently in the process of divorcing, newly divorced, or still hurting from a divorce a decade ago.
7. The Journey from Abandonment to Healing: Turn the End of a Relationship into the Beginning of a New Life by Susan Anderson. This book is focused on the needs of individuals who experienced a sense of abandonment as part of their divorce. It teaches the five stages of abandonment feelings and gives suggestions and exercises for working through them.
8. Getting Past Your Breakup: How to Turn a Devastating Loss into the Best Thing That Ever Happened to You by Susan J. Elliott JD MEd. This is a useful guide to disengaging from your ex and your past and moving toward the future. It is particularly helpful to those who just can’t stop thinking about their ex and is meant for all kinds of relationship breakups, not just divorce.
9. Crazy Time: Surviving Divorce and Building a New Life by Abigail Trafford. This book covers the divorce experience from the decision to divorce to the divorce itself to the aftermath, including dating and remarriage. It is research-based and broad in its coverage.
10. Rebuilding: When Your Relationship Ends by Bruce Fisher and Robert Alberti. This is a book that has been around for decades with a nineteen step program to rebuilding your life after divorce. It focuses on the various emotions and experiences that are typical for a divorcee. Helpful appendices focus on helping children, having a “healing separation,” and rebuilding after the death of a spouse.
11. Splitting: Protecting Yourself While Divorcing Someone with Borderline or Narcissistic Personality Disorder by Bill Eddy LCSW JD. As reflected by the title, this book is meant to help you through a divorce from a spouse with BPD or NPD. It both is meant to help predict for you what your spouse may say or do and help you respond.
12. The Breakup Bible: The Smart Woman’s Guide to Healing from a Breakup or Divorce by Rachel Sussman. The author, a psychotherapist, describes a 3-step process, healing, understanding, and transformation, for healing from a breakup. It covers topic such as developing a support system, nourishing yourself, understanding what happened, letting go, and rebuilding and dating again.
13. The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Bessel van der Kolk. Written by a trauma expert, the book discusses how trauma reshapes the body and the brain. He discusses various solutions to help us heal. While the book isn’t just focused on divorce, it is very relevant to the divorcee.
14. The Divorce Recovery Workbook: How to Heal from Anger, Hurt, and Resentment and Build the Life You Want by Mark S. Rye PhD. This is a mindfulness and positive psychology approach to healing and coping with negative emotions. It also discusses co-parenting.
15. Peace after Divorce by Renee Smith Ettline. Another book on overcoming the negative emotions of divorce but with a more spiritual focus. Her approach is based on her Christian faith and her own experience with divorce.
The sad reality is that divorce is a legal process. Understanding the legalities is critical to coming up with an agreement that is fair to both parties and will hold up when conflict comes.
16. The Divorce Handbook: Your Basic Guide to Divorce by James T. Friedman. This book is an old classic, first published in 1982, but updated. It is written by a family lawyer and is a straightforward coverage of legal issues from alimony and property division to child support. It is recommended by the American Bar Association.
17. The Smart Divorce: Proven Strategies and Valuable Advice from 100 Top Divorce Lawyers, Financial Advisers, Counselors, and Other Experts by Deborah Moskovitch. This book is a compilation of advice from a variety of professionals. It is a practical guide to the how-to’s of divorce.
18. Dividing finances fairly and planning for the future is an other necessity of divorce. Each of the following guides is a good overview of what you need to consider. You can’t go wrong with any of them.
19. Divorce & Money: Make the Best Financial Decisions During Divorce by Woodhouse Attorney and Lina Guillen Attorney. This is a thorough and practical guide to such issues as determining the value of assets, understanding how child support and alimony are calculated, and uncovering your spouse’s financial details.
20. The Financially Smart Divorce: Three Steps to Your Ideal Settlement and Financial Security in Your New Life by J.A. Licciardello. This book covers financial issues at the time of divorce with a focus on planning for your future security. It is very thorough and detailed.
21. The Complete Guide to Protecting Your Financial Security When Getting a Divorce by Alan Feigenbaum and Heather Linton. This financial guide has a focus on negotiating the best agreement with your spouse and is another solid option.
Parenting, co-parenting, and step-parenting
22. If you have children, then parenting issues are probably one of your biggest concerns. Most professionals will advise you to put the child’s needs first, and the following books all take that approach.
23. The Co-Parenting Handbook: Raising Well-Adjusted and Resilient Kids from Little Ones to Young Adults through Divorce or Separation by Karen Bonnell. This popular guide is packed with strategies for working with your ex in raising your children from initial separation to the future. It is a very thorough book, full of checklists and resources. Highly recommended.
24. Mom’s House, Dad’s House: Making Two Homes for Your Child by Isolina Ricci PhD. This updated classic is full of tools and checklists for helping both parents through the transition to co-parenting. It is unique in providing age-specific advice, long distance parenting, and parenting alone. Another high recommendation.
25. Joint Custody with a Jerk: Raising a Child with an Uncooperative Ex by Julie A. Ross MA. This particular book is focused on the specific issues of co-parenting with a difficult ex. A great option in conjunction with one of the two prior more general books.
26. Putting Children First: Proven Parenting Strategies for Helping Children Thrive Through Divorce by JoAnne Pedro-Carroll PhD. This book focuses on using research-based approaches with children. Another good general book on co-parenting.
27. Parenting After Divorce: Resolving Conflicts and Meeting Your Children’s Needs by Philip M. Stahl PhD. This is another general book, but with a practical approach. It is a good balance of research, specialized issues like dealing with a difficult ex, and general advice.
28. The Smart Stepfamily: Seven Steps to a Healthy Family by Ron L. Deal. Written by an expert on stepfamilies, this is a practical guide to blending families.
Many parents want to use books with their children, often as a way of opening dialogue with them about the divorce. There are many good ones out there. I’ve provided my favorites here:
29. Two Homes by Claire Masurel is a simple picture book about the wonderful things a child has a both mom’s and dad’s house. Recommended for ages 2-5 years, but it could be used with a child a few years older.
30. I Don’t Want to Talk About It by Jeanie Franz Ransom for ages 5-9 is a picture book focusing on the emotions a child may have surrounding divorce. An additional feature is a section for parents on how to talk to their children about divorce.
31. Divorce is Not the End of the World: Zoe and Evan’s Coping Guide for Kids by Zoe and Evan Stern is a simple chapter book targeted at ages 8-12 which gives kids information and tips about getting through their parents’ divorce. The book focuses on emotional and practical issues the child might be dealing with.
32. My Mom and Dad Don’t Live Together Anymore: A Drawing Book for Children by Dr. Judith A Rubin is targeted at ages 4-12 and has children write and draw pictures about their feelings about their parents’ divorce.
33. Dinosaurs Divorce by Laurie Krasny Brown and Marc Brown is a cute picture book for ages 4-6 that covers the practical issues of a divorce such as visitation, holidays, and step-families.
Teenagers often struggle with depression and guilt when their parents divorce, and it can be hard to get them to open up about their feelings. The following books can be great discussion starters or useful for a teen to read on their own.
34. The Divorce Helpbook for Teens by Cynthia MacGregor. This guide covers the changes that come due to divorce, including custody and visitation. It has a nice chapter on the unfair games parents might play that put the teen in the middle. It is friendly and easy to read.
35. My Parents Are Divorced Too: A Book for Kids by Kids by Melanie, Annie and Steven Ford. This book is cartoon-based and is written by authors who have been through parental divorce as teens themselves. It’s great for kids and teens about 8-14 years old.
36. Now What Do I Do?: A Guide to Help Teenagers with Their Parents’ Separation or Divorce by Lynn Cassella-Kapusinski. This choice is a workbook style and focuses on working out emotions and fears. It is particularly good in dealing with depression, guilt, forgiveness, and feeling caught between parents. There is also a chapter on faith and God.
37. The Divorce Workbook for Teens: Activities to Help You Move Beyond the Break Up by Lisa M. Schab. This workbook is best purchased on kindle as the paperback version is expensive. Like the prior recommendation, this one focuses on working through emotions. It also has a section on adjusting to possible changes in financial status due to the divorce.
38. Keeping Your Life Together When Your Parents Pull Apart: A Teen’s Guide to Surviving Divorce by Kevin Huggins. This Christian book is a unique choice in that it is half novel, half devotional.
Most couples go through a period of separation before their divorce is final. While many of the general divorce books above discuss the separation period, the two following options offer unique perspectives. The first describes separation of living spaces as a permanent solution for a loving couple that just can’t share a home well. The second is focused on reconciliation.
39. Living Apart Together: A New Possibility for Loving Couples by Danine Manette. This book explains a unique option–living in separate homes whiles staying married (and continuing a loving relationship). It covers practical concerns for this setup such as dealing with money, kids, and pets. The author will even answer questions through her website if you buy and read the book. I can imagine that for couples who love each other but don’t live well together this model might be a great option to consider.
40. Hope For the Separated: Wounded Marriages Can Be Healed by Gary Chapman. This Christian book by the author of The 5 Love Languages aims to help separated couples reconcile, through the use of God’s word. It covers dealing with anger, forgiveness and trust, and rebuilding the marriage.
Dating after divorce
The transition to dating after a divorce is exciting for some and frightening for others. I found it a little of both. These books offer great insights, no matter how you are feeling.
41. Getting Back Out There: Secrets to Successful Dating and Finding Real Love after the Big Breakup by Susan J. Elliott JD MEd. This is a great volume that discusses compatibility, communication, and standards when looking for a new partner. It discusses here five aspects of dating failure: readiness, rejection, recycling, rebounding, and retreating.
42. Dating After Divorce: Preparing for a New Relationship by David and Lisa Frisbie. This book is written by remarriage experts and draws on their academic research and experiences counseling divorcees. It covers readiness including financial readiness, emotional readiness, and your family.
43. The New Single: Finding, Fixing, and Falling Back in Love with Yourself After a Break-up or Divorce by Tamsen Fadal. This choice focuses on taking better care of yourself, radiating confidence, and avoiding toxic relationships from a woman who has been there.
44. How to Spot a Dangerous Man Before You Get Involved by Sandra L. Brown. This book describes eight types of dangerous men, from clingy or emotionally available to addicted or abusive, and she provides information on how to recognize, avoid, and escape them. For many women (and men) this is a must-read.
Same sex divorce
With same-sex marriage legally available, same-sex divorces will naturally follow, though of course same-sex relationships of other kinds have always suffered from the heartbreak of breakups as well. Most of the other books on this list will be helpful to the same-sex divorcee, but I wanted to also highlight some more specialized options.
45. LGBTQ Divorce and Relationship Dissolution: Psychological and Legal Perspectives and Implications for Practice by Abbie Goldberg and Adam Romero. This edited volume with chapters written by various individuals is aimed particularly at psychological and legal professionals, but divorcees will also find many sections of the book helpful. It covers topics such as typical same-sex relationship stresses, heterosexual divorce when one spouse comes out at LGB, child custody and legal issues, and transgender and gender-variant issues.
46. What Happens When Dads Divorce: A Book for Divorcing Families with Two Dads by Sara Olsher. This is a cute picture book for kids about ages 3 to 8. See the two moms version below.
47. What Happens When Moms Divorce: A Book for Divorcing Families with Two Moms by Sara Olsher. This is a cute picture book for kids about ages 4 to 8. See the two dads version above.
48. The Other Side of the Closet: The Coming-Out Crisis for Straight Spouses and Families, Revised and Expanded Edition by Amity Pierce Buxton. This volume addresses the issues surrounding one individual in a heterosexual marriage coming out as LGB, whether or not the couple divorces. It includes the sexual needs of both spouses, solutions if the couple stays together, the children’s needs, integrity, adjustments, and forgiveness.
Religions and divorce
Adherents to various religions often experience unique challenges and emotional reactions to divorce. Below I describe some great book options for Christians, including Catholics and LDS believers, Muslims, and Jews.
49. Losing Everything in Divorce: Finding Healing through Christ by Reg Christensen. This is a Christian-LDS book focused on continued faith in Jesus Christ, through the crisis of a divorce and is based on his own experiences as a divorcee. The book is Christ-focused, but as an LDS book the concepts may have a few differences from the beliefs of other Christians.
50. Divorce and Remarriage in the Church: Biblical Solutions for Pastoral Realities by David Instone-Brewer. This book is primarily focused on interpreting the teachings of the New Testament for Christians in order to help them through divorce. It focuses on forgiveness, acceptance, and remarriage from a rigorously scriptural but loving perspective. It’s a particularly good book for Christians wondering whether divorce or remarriage is a sin (the author interprets scripture to say it is not).
51. The Divorce Dilemma: God’s Last Word on Lasting Commitment by John MacArthur. This book is another Christian attempt to determine the rights and wrongs of divorce and remarriage from scripture. It leans conservative with an emphasis on staying married, but gives some cases when divorce is allowed, such as for adultery. I find it more conservative than the preceding suggestion.
52. Divorce and Lost Love: God Will Make a Way by Henry McCloud and John Townsend. This small gift-sized book is written by psychologists and focuses on using God to heal from your divorce.
53. Islamic Divorce Explained: A Muslim Marriage Handbook for Insight, Support, Reconciliation, and Navigating the Process by Muhammad Zakari. This books is written by an Islamic scholar and is a compassionate guide to divorce for Muslims. It covers the types and conditions of divorce in Islam, mediation and arbitration, emotional issues, legal procedures, and typical financial issues to resolve.
54. Divorce Is a Mitzvah: A Practical Guide to Finding Wholeness and Holiness When Your Marriage Dies by Rabbi Perry Netter. This Jewish divorce guide is written by a rabbi who experienced divorce. It addresses practical issues such as co-parenting, but the focus of the book is more on overcoming emotional issues such as guilt and anger.
55. Divorced. Catholic. Now What?: Navigating Life After Divorce by Lisa Duffy and Vince Frese. This book is based on a program that was used in parishes. It focuses on healing, God, Church teachings, the children, and dating and the future. It is a compassionate book specifically written for Catholics.
56. Healing After Divorce: Hope for Catholics by Rose Sweet. This book is another Catholic option that has some helpful topics such as hearing from God that the marriage is done, grieving, and trusting in love. It is a shorter and easier read than the preceding option for Catholics.
Books for seniors
Divorce after the age of 50, often referred to as “gray divorce,” is an increasing trend in the United States. While I’d encourage seniors to explore any of the books on this page, the following books have some unique insights specific to seniors.
57. Divorce After 50: Your Guide to the Unique Legal and Financial Challenges by Janice Green. This book was written by an attorney and focuses particularly on divorce options, dividing property, debt and taxes, retirement and estate plans, alimony, and health care. It is practical and straightforward.
58. Gray Divorce Stories: The Truth about Getting Divorced over 50 from Men and Women Who’ve Done It by Barry Gold. This unique book is a compilation of the stories of 18 individuals who divorced after 50, all interviewed by the author. Themes that emerge are leaving victim mentality, rebuilding your confidence, dealing with your children and friends, choosing whether or not to date again, and sexuality. I divorced at age 42 and can relate to a lot in this book.
59. Gray Divorce: What We Lose and Gain from Mid-Life Splits by Jocelyn Elise Crowley. This books discusses the reasons for the increase in divorces over age 50, how women tend to lose economically and men tend to lose socially when they divorce, and the public policies that might be helpful. It is more of a description of American culture than a how-to book for the divorcee.
Books for men
In many of the books written on divorce, the unspoken target audience is women. Men are more often considered the faulty party in a divorce, especially if infidelity exists, and they are less likely to get child custody. The following books are specifically targeted at the male divorcee.
60. A Man’s Feelings: Finding Closure After Divorce by Michael Eads. This book covers a broad scope of issues including divorce stigma, custody battles, dating advice, and emotions. The author shares his personal story with divorce throughout this friendly read.
61. The Guys-Only Guide to Getting Over Divorce and With Life, Sex, and Relationships by Sam J. Buser and Glenn Sternes. This book is written by psychologists and is another broad and friendly guide intended for men.
62. Daily Survival Guide for Divorced Men: Surviving & Thriving Beyond Your Divorce by Dale Brown. This Christian book is a hope-filled guide meant to inspire and comfort divorcing and divorced men as they heal from divorce.
Because divorce is so common, a lot of memoirs have been written about the divorce experience. Here I have highlighted a few of the best that I hope you will enjoy.
63. The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion. Technically, this book is about losing a spouse to death rather than divorce, but it is so wonderful that I had to include it. In some ways, the grief and loneliness is the same. This book is a New York Times Bestseller and National Book Award winner. It is a beautifully written portrait of marriage, crisis, grief, life, and life itself.
64. Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed. As a divorcee and a hiker, I loved this book. It was a New York Times bestseller, and is engaging, humorous, and inspirational. It is the story of Cheryl, who with completely inadequate knowledge and preparation, set out to hike much of the Pacific Crest Trail, a continuous trail from the border of Mexico in California to the border of Canada in Washington state, in order to find herself after a divorce.
65. Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia by Elizabeth Gilbert. This classic memoir tells how Elizabeth left behind everything after a painful divorce in order to better understand herself against the backdrop of three different cultures, Italy, India, and Bali. The book is highly readable, funny, and deep at the same time.
66. How to Sleep Alone in a King-Size Bed: A Memoir of Starting Over by Theo Pauline Nestor. This beautiful memoir takes the author through her experiences discovering her husband’s gambling losses, dealing with court and custody, shifting from stay-at-home mom to working mom, and falling in love again. This memoir is funny, inspiring, and genuine. I’m sure you’ll love it.
If you prefer to read fictional stories about divorce rather than real ones, I’ve got you covered there too. Below are some of the best novels that include divorce, or at least the threat of divorce, as a major part of the story.
67. Heartburn by Nora Ephron. This is an extremely humorous novel about the breakup of a perfect marriage. It includes elements of adultery, revenge, group therapy, and lots of food. A light, fun read to lift your spirits.
68. The Divorce Papers by Susan Rieger. This is the story of a high-profile divorce and the young lawyer dragged into handling it. It is sophisticated and deep, but also touching and humorous. The story is uniquely presented exclusively through a variety of documents such as emails, notes, memos, and legal documents. Very original and worth the time.
69. The Silent Wife by Kerry Fisher. This novel is a USA Today bestseller about a woman that finds a mysterious letter that reveals dark secrets and threatens to destroy her family. I can’t tell you what happens, of course! This is very much a “I need to know what happens next!” page-turner. A great choice for when you want to binge read a book.
70. The Split by Sharon J. Bolton. This is a more intense book, the story of a woman fleeing from her ex-husband, a murderer just released from prison. It might not be the right choice for everyone, but it is a great option if you enjoy suspense.
I find that poetry can be very healing, both to read and to write. Below are a few divorce-focused poetry books. You should find something in them to inspire you.
71. Divorce Papers by Maria Cadenas. I found this book when I was looking for “The Divorce Papers” listed in the novels section. It is a book of poetry about betrayal, divorce, and recovery, illustrated with linocuts and ink sketches.
72. Divorce Poetry: Breaking Free by Tamara Mendelson. This book of poetry is divided into five parts, representing five stages of the poet’s progress through the divorce and recovery process, from breakdown through breaking free. She used poetry as part of her own healing and has published these poems in order to help you with yours. The poems are varied in form, but regardless of form I find that I relate well to her imagery as reflecting my emotions and experiences. They touch my heart. I feel this could be a meaningful gift for a divorcee.
73. A Poetic Guide to Divorce: Anguish, turmoil, and joy of divorce through poetry by J. M. Storm. This is a similar collection of poems by a divorcee working through her own feelings. Unlike the prior book, this one includes some humorous poems. I would choose this book for greater variety of styles and the prior one for greater emotional depth and poetic quality.
74. Daily Meditations for Healing from Divorce by Marlene Pontrelli. This book has snippets of wisdom such as “Savor the present moment” with expanded commentary on each from the perspective a divorce attorney who is also a divorcee. The ideas themselves aren’t new, and many are clichés, but placing them for you in the context of a divorce experience can be helpful.
75. Daily Meditations for Surviving a Breakup, Separation or Divorce by Micki McWade. This book has 365 daily meditations meant to be helpful during or after a divorce. It includes the “12 Steps of Divorce Recovery” based on the AA 12 step program. Each date is given a famous quote, such as “Vision is greater than baggage” by Stephen R. Covey. Next the quote is discussed, and a related affirmation is suggested. I found the quotes generally inspiring, the discussions helpful, and the affirmations appropriate.
76. A Road to Healing: Daily Reflections for Divorced Catholics by Lisa Duffy. This book is a set of reflections that are religiously-centered. Each day begins with a brief question or statement such as “Perfect in the eyes of God”, followed by a brief discussion and a Bible verse. Christians and Catholics alike may enjoy these brief daily readings.
I hope you found something informative, entertaining, or uplifting to read on this list. If you have any wonderful suggestions for me, feel free to use the form on my contact page. Have a beautiful book binge soon!