Book Excerpt: 'A Promise to Ourselves'

Early in my own divorce proceedings I came upon men who told me that the corrosiveness and complexity of their divorces had forced them to give up. They "wrote off" not only their first marriages, but their children as well. Many went on to remarry. The chance to "make things right" meant starting another family. I could never, ever comprehend how a man could abandon his child in this way. However, as my own proceedings went on, and the recriminations became more severe, I began to appreciate these men, and some women as well, better than I imagined possible.

I have sat with men whose hearts are filled with love for their children. Before their divorce there had never been any doubt of that love or their abilities as parents. Then divorce lawyers entered the picture to do what many of them do best; to destroy an innocent parent's reputation and their bond with their children. Therefore, lawyers, along with ineffectual judges who do little to curb such destructive forces in American family law, are a principal focus of this book.

Family law in most states has become its own preserve, one in which litigants come and go, while the principal players remain the same. Those players, not the families whose fates are determined by this system, are the ones who profit from protecting the status quo. We have, I believe, a system designed to line the pockets of these principals.

Anything that results in effective conflict resolution, protection of both parents' rights and, most importantly, a healthy environment for the children of divorce is a happy accident. The problem lies not only with antagonistic lawyers who perpetuate conflict, but also with the judges who sit idly by and do nothing to rein them in.

However, this book is not a blanket indictment of all attorneys and the legal profession. I will cite by name some of the truly constructive and decent men and women I have encountered during my own proceedings, (Unfortunately, under the current system, decency and humanity often work against family law attorneys.) Nor do I mean to imply that a legal divorce is always an unsafe option when a relationship has degenerated beyond repair.

There are times when dissolving a marriage is the best decision a couple can make. American taxpayers, however, continue to fund a system that turns a sensitive and private decision into a destructive process that leaves few unscathed. If getting out of your marriage is good for both you and your estranged spouse, it ought to be easier to achieve. The truth is that we maintain a system in which destroying one's ex-spouse, not effectively resolving conflict, is the order of the day.

What follows will disappoint those who hoped to find a gossipy, salacious tale of a show business marriage gone bad. Tabloid publications have already put out enough such stories about my protracted divorce and ensuing custody battle. I do not feel compelled to set that record straight. Think what you will.

What stories someone's own imagination can come up with will be far more satisfying, in that regard, than the truth. Necessity demands that I include some of the particulars of my own case, but only those germane to the book's purpose. However, you will come away disappointed if you hope to find a bitter, angry attack against my ex-wife.

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