In the annals of breakup stories, Lizzy's ranks up there. Her husband of four years walked out on her and their 1-year-old son one wintry Sunday afternoon without discussion, a note, a comment, a fight, even a goodbye. It was only hours later that she realized he had quit their home for good.

War tribunals have been convened for less.

Lizzy's friends were enraged. Her sister and I met in a dark New Jersey establishment, where it wouldn't have been surprising to find Artie Bucco in the kitchen, to contemplate doing things to this man that Tony Soprano and his mooks routinely do to adversaries.

Lizzy, though, was wiser. "Never marry a man you wouldn't want to be divorced from," Nora Ephron observed. Lizzy told us we could hate him - we could be pinch haters for her - but she couldn't. They have a son together, and that changes everything.

I bring this up in the wake of the ongoing Baldwin-Basinger Troubles and their 11-year-old daughter with the appropriately battle-scarred name of Ireland.

Alec Baldwin and Kim Basinger are due in court Friday to decide if the 30 Rock star can resume contact with the daughter he called "a thoughtless little pig" in the cell call that choked the Internet last week.

To have a child, especially one barreling toward adolescence, is to feel one's patience, to say nothing of one's sanity, under constant threat. Most children, let alone people, can be thoughtless at any given moment. It's part of the human condition to be solipsistic. What Baldwin said, however, was wrong.

Then, as these things tend to happen, he made matters worse. It isn't the initial crime as much as the cover-up that lands people in court and impeachment hearings.

Appearing on The View last Friday, Baldwin apologized to his daughter and his castmates, and asked to get out of his contract and the show. "If I never acted again, I couldn't care less."

Instead, Baldwin wants to devote himself to writing a book "about divorce litigation . . . I want to work more toward helping men understand what divorce in our society right now means for their rights as parents. Divorce court in this country is the civil procedure that hands out criminal penalties without any regard for people's rights whatsoever."

In other words, he went after Basinger all over again.

This is intensely stupid on three counts. Baldwin is magnificent on 30 Rock, one of the best shows on television.

The world doesn't need another divorce book. Indeed, we need to shred the ones already out there.

And, once again, an angry ex is thinking more about vengeance toward his former spouse than healing the wounds with his child. This book isn't going to help Ireland one iota.

Baldwin is a prime example of the talent-versus-character conundrum in which the quality of the work is disassociated from the character of the human being. Baldwin's recent work, including his appearances on Saturday Night Live and in The Cooler, has been remarkable. But we don't have to be married to him, and now, thanks to the protracted acrimony with Basinger, it's possible nobody ever will.

It's too easy to marry in this country - shouldn't intelligence or emotional testing be involved? - and criminally effortless to divorce. Getting a passport takes longer.

The only way divorce slows down is when a former couple wants to re-create the Peloponnesian War, and cast progeny as the casualties.

Which brings me to Lizzy.

She was right. It is 12 years later. Recently, I attended her son's bar mitzvah. He has two adoring parents, who are pleasant to each other, plus a bonus round in Lizzy's new husband and the ex's girlfriend. Everyone was hugging and kissing.

"There's altogether too much love in this room," the boy's grandmother said.

When you marry, and certainly if you divorce, the kids are paramount. Love has to triumph over so much malice. Your kids are more important than anyone you come to dislike. Love for the child should float above all rancor. Otherwise, the parents are nothing more than thoughtless little pigs.

Contact staff writer Karen Heller at 215-854-2586 or kheller@phillynews.com.