Dr. Warshak's Bookshelf on
Divorce, Child Custody, and Parenting
The Bookshelf is divided into three areas (click to access):
The list is not comprehensive; neither are the comments following each title. But I hope to give some idea of why I like each book, and why I think you might find it helpful. Clicking on the Amazon link does not obligate you to buy the book. You will be taken to amazon.com where you can read a description of the book and then either order it or not.
Featured Book of the Month
A Promise to Ourselves by Alec Baldwin
If you are, or have been, or getting ready to be, chewed up in the psychological meat-grinder known as custody litigation, this book will become your welcome companion. In a moving, deeply personal, poignant, at times painful, account, Baldwin escorts us into the morass of the family court system and draws on his experience to suggest needed reforms.
Those expecting a Hollywood tell-all tabloid account will be disappointed. Though he pulls no punches, Baldwin shows restraint and discretion, giving just the details needed to understand his maddening descent into a world where the people with the power, who could prevent and alleviate much suffering, instead drop the ball -- again and again. His story is one I hear from my readers and clients, the rich and famous and the poor and unknown. The uninitiated will be astonished at how the adversarial divorce process - and many of its key players - give toxic parents the tools they need to obstruct, and in some cases rupture, their children's relationship with the other parent.
In The Custody Revolution I proposed that we replace the adversarial system and the default position of sole mother custody with greater reliance on mediation, and a presumption of joint custody. Those reforms have since become mainstream and reduced courthouse casualties. But, Baldwin shines the spotlight on the type of cases where the proper exercise of judicial authority is the lifeline for a parent-child relationship caught in the crosshairs of a parent intent on destruction.
Baldwin skewers the prevailing system, not only for its inadequate protection of children, but for providing a fertile environment and the tools for toxic parents to establish and entrench their children's alienation from the other parent. More often than not, Baldwin hits the nail on the head. The system fails families most in need of the court's rapid help. As parent-child relationships deteriorate in the wake of multiple violations of court-ordered parenting time, the system responds with a bloated, unnecessarily expensive, and agonizingly slow process. Litigants learn that court orders can be repeatedly flouted with impunity. Prominent legal scholars echo Baldwin's complaints and agree that family law reform is sorely needed. (I was privileged to be one of 60 professionals who participated in a recent invitation-only symposium sponsored by the American Bar Association for the purpose of creating proposals for such reform.)
Baldwin's account highlights the injustice of holding a parent in a custody dispute to a higher standard, where normal variations in behavior and isolated lapses of judgment, understandably human when seen in full context, become the basis for denying a parent regular access to a child and coercing the parent into court-mandated treatments of questionable value. A Promise to Ourselves is a wake-up call with lessons for legal and mental health professionals, and parents, to help others avoid the anguish that Baldwin endured.