Alisse Camazine and Alan Freed of Paule, Camazine & Blumenthal are two of the busiest family law attorneys in St. Louis. They spend their days hammering out property settlements, negotiating custody agreements and dealing with other complex issues. You’d think they’d have enough to do without taking on extra projects. But these colleagues and friends, who have more than 50 years of legal experience between them, recently sacrificed three years of TV and family time to write Divorce in Missouri: The Ultimate Guide to a Show-Me State Divorce. The book was published last year to rave reviews from grateful clients, mental health professionals, financial advisers and the toughest critics of all—other lawyers. Published by Acorn House, it’s the only divorce guide written specifically for Missourians.
“The average person who enters the divorce process gets their information from their next-door neighbor, or TV and the movies, but most of what they’ve heard is completely inapplicable to their own situation, so they’re totally unprepared when they walk into an attorney’s office,” Camazine says. “We tell them stuff they need to know if they’re going through a divorce, or even considering it.”
Camazine says she and Freed wanted to give the layman a way to evaluate what’s worth fighting for and what to let go of. “Unfortunately, you can’t always depend on your attorney to give you good advice—the longer a divorce is drawn out, the more money he makes,” she says. “People come into our office saying, I want to get even with that no-good SOB, and a lot of attorneys encourage that kind of bitterness. But pettiness and anger make the process much more expensive. Do you really want to spend $100,000 to get $10,000? Alan and I focus on being ‘agents of reality’ for our clients and readers, and suggest strategies that can result in a successful settlement.”
The 224-page, step-by-step book includes information on child custody and support, division of property, maintenance, grandparents’ rights, pensions, taxes, mediation and collaborative law, how to control legal costs and how to select a lawyer. Camazine and Freed focused on their areas of expertise, then passed chapters back and forth to each other and co-author/publisher John Pavese. The project was a labor of love, they say. “We don’t get a penny from the sale of the book,” Freed says. “We want people to read it so they’ll be prepared. It’s our way of giving back to the community.”
Camazine and Freed want clients to understand there’s no place for revenge in divorce. “You’re not going to get a better settlement because your spouse cheated; you’re not going to get the house because your husband wanted the divorce and you didn’t,” Freed says. “Think of it as a business transaction, and act in the best interest of your ‘business,’ which is your family and children.”
Divorce is like a long car trip, he adds. “It’s OK to look in the rearview mirror from time to time, but you also need to focus on the road ahead. Do you want to fight with your former partner forever, constantly stewing over unresolved issues and making your kids miserable? Or do you want to move on and get a fresh start? Your kids will be happier if you handle divorce the right way—and believe it or not, so will you.”