Book Excerpt: 'A Promise to Ourselves'

The aftereffects of divorce seep into all of society. This phenomenon of acrimonious divorce litigation exacts an incalculable psychological and emotional toll not only on the litigants but on innocent bystanders as well. Like any social issue, there is a cost we all bear, spiritually as well as financially.

Among the several topics that my contributors and I will examine in this book are: Prenuptial agreements and how couples can attempt to preemptively protect themselves, their respective extended families and, of course, their children from the unnecessary pain of divorce litigation.

How to approach the ultimate decision to file for divorce, specifically in both high and low conflict divorces. We explore the question of when, as well as how, to file.

Divorce strategies and assessments for couples with above average, average, and below average assets.

Selecting an attorney. Is word of mouth all its cracked up to be?

Private mediation versus going to trial.

Observations on judges, forensic accountants, custody evaluations and evaluators, collateral witnesses, child psychologists and other court appointed therapists.

An examination of actual custody/ visitation strategies. What should your time with your child be like? How does the inevitable passage of time affect you and your growing child?

The newly divorced parent's life and the hopeful prayer of constructive co-parenting. The political influences on current family law. How the political apparatus of lawyers, judges and feminist groups assault fatherhood and impact custody.

I have been through some of the worst of contentious divorce litigation. I have lost some proceedings that seemed important at the time, but I prevailed in many others. Wisdom has urged me to walk away from this experience and count my blessings. But I have chosen to return to it, to examine it again and share with you not only my thoughts, but those of others, as well. A book is not a Pollock painting; its web of facts and feelings must be arranged in an ordered way. To that end, I have enlisted the aid of Mark Tabb, who helped me with the research, organization, and writing of what follows.

This book is entitled "A Promise to Ourselves." And it is in fulfillment of that promise that I offer to all divorced fathers, to all parents, the dreams and nightmares, the insights and ultimate lessons of my own story.

Chapter One Even the Deepest Feelings

On a Sunday morning in January of 2001, I stood on a cold Manhattan street with a movie crew as we prepared to shoot the first scenes of a film I was directing. For me, this was a dream come true, not only because I was directing for the first time, but also because of the incredible cast we had assembled for the project, including Anthony Hopkins, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Dan Aykroyd, Kim Catrall and Barry Miller. Pete Dexter wrote the script and Bill Condon did the rewrite, just prior to winning the Oscar for "Gods and Monsters."

And as if all of that weren't enough, we were going to make the film during my favorite season in my favorite place. Later that winter, heavy snow fell on New York during our shooting schedule, like the winters of my childhood. I was elated by the possibilities.

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