The outcome seemed so wrong. Sandy was a loving mom. Bright, creative. Her nature was to nurture. She made home cooked meals. She grew a garden in the back yard of her small but tidy house. She believed the home should be peaceful but joyful and child focused. How did she lose custody of her only child---ten year old Amanda?
It’s not that George was a bad father. He was just a different type of parent. He lived in an apartment and made fast food a regular diet. He had changed roommates once again. While Amanda like to read books at her mom’s house, she was more likely to watch t.v. at her dad’s place while he was in front of his computer in the next room.
While Sandy didn’t think that George would ever abuse Amanda, she was authentically concerned about neglect. Sandy had always assumed responsibility for everything from seeing that Amanda had lunch money to registering her for soccer. She was just sure she could provide a better environment for Amanda’s day-to-day growing up.
Despite knowing the risks that custody might not be awarded to her, Sandy took the court ruling hard.
As a divorce lawyer, few outcomes were ever tougher for me than a disappointing custody decision from the court. I spent many an anxious day and sleepless night when what mattered most in our clients’ lives was at risk.
As lawyers, intellectually we know that that we don’t make the law, create the facts, pick the judge, or determine what comes out of the mouth of a witness on the stand. But it’s still hard to not to take it personally when a client’s heart is broken by what we think is a bad decision.
A number of years after Sandy’s day in court, I received a letter from her. It was postmarked from two states away. It read much like this:
I thought you would like to hear how things turned out for
Amanda and me since that day we were in court and
everything looked so dark.
A couple of years after Amanda went to live with her dad,
he was diagnosed with AIDS. She lived with him until he
became too ill to care for her. He died a few months later.
Those short years Amanda and her dad had together were
precious for them both. While it was very difficult for me at the time,
I see that everything turned out the way it was meant to.
I thought you’d want to know.
As a divorce lawyer we often don’t get to hear the end of the story for our clients. We may never learn about a future reconciliation, a happy remarriage, or the joys being experienced in a new life after divorce. We may never know the hidden blessings within a decision that looks devastating in the moment.
As you move through your divorce, have faith that the story of your life is not yet fully written. Trust that you cannot know everything the future holds for you and your children. A dark day may one day be seen as just another step in the unfolding events of what was meant to be.
As you look back on your life, can you remember a dark day that you now see was what was meant to be?