Book Review – “Tug of War”

“Tug of War” is the first book ever written in North America by an experienced court judge specifically for parents who are going through separation and divorce. Justice Harvey Brownstone has been employed in a number of legal settings where he has gained a strong knowledge base and motivation to help individuals with their problem-solving. He was a Legal Aid lawyer for criminal cases, a researcher primarily for Family Law, Director of the Family Support Plan for the province of Ontario and is presently a provincial judge in the North Toronto Family Court. His extensive experience and narrative writing style have been combined in a manner that provides a very unique and interesting read.

“Tug of war” is a 182 page work of art that is packed full of complex concepts and legal terms that are explained in a simple but comprehensive manner. The author not only provides examples to clarify difficulties that can arise for families who are involved in separation and divorce situations, but also emphasizes the fact that there are variations in the law and possible resolutions available depending on the jurisdiction in which the individuals live.

Judge Brownstone argues that emphasis should always be on what is best for the children in divorce cases. This requires a level of maturity on the part of the parents who must put the needs of their children above their own needs. He states, “Good parenting is about raising healthy , happy children, not about getting even”. (Page 169). Besides reducing stress for the children, role-modeling mature behaviour can provide a positive example not only for them, but also for the children’s other parent.

He is candid about his own feelings and the frustrations he faces as he tries to deal with difficulties that might have been avoided if those who turn to Court to resolve disputes would have chosen instead to use mature, responsible behaviours, respect and common sense.

This book addresses legal, financial, emotional, relational and social aspects of the divorce process. Besides focussing on specific terms and processes of the Court system, it also offers alternatives for developing appropriate custody, access and financial plans.

As well, the author provides a clear and realistic overview of problems that can arise when Child Welfare concerns, Criminal charges or failure to follow Court Orders occur.

As a psychologist who works with family members who are experiencing divorce, I must say that I was extremely impressed with this book. Thousands of dollars and much frustration could be saved if this was required reading for individuals before they even considered separation.

It is obvious that Judge Brownstone cares about protecting children and their rights. This is evidenced not only in words he has written but also in the fact that proceeds from sale of the book are being donated to the Children’s Wish Foundation and other children’s charities.

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