Today’s post was inspired by news of Pillar Sander’s middle son finally getting to live with her. Not sure if you remember their divorce or not, but in a nutshell Deion Sanders got primary custody of his two boys and she got shared custody of their daughter who was the youngest at the time. Here’s what his middle son just shared:
The children are caught in the middle of a divorce. I want to share a story with you. I want you to think about something before you go to war in custody…
I have a lot of friends who have gone through a divorce and custody battle with their children. All but two have had to battle it out in the courts for custody. As sad as it is, it didn’t have to be that way.
Marriages start off great. You fall in love. You create a life. You have children. Your career changes. Life changes. You have children. You raise your children. Life goes on. Then there is a shift in your marriage. It could be mental health, infidelity, loss of love and/or communication. But, something is wrong.
You try to fix it. You try counseling. You try to make your marriage work. You didn’t get married to get divorced. Sex becomes non-existent. You don’t understand what is happening. Why can’t you get back on track?
But, you can’t.
Months pass. Sometimes years. You grow distant. You become roommates. You live separate lives. You even fake it for family in friends. You begin to lose yourself in the hell that is your marriage.
Until one day.
One of you decides that you can’t go on like this. You can’t live this fake life for everyone including your children. You want them to see two happy people than grow up with a false sense of family. You decide it would be best to split and divorce.
What happens to the children?
You believe that your children need both parents. You’ve read the stories of children that do better with both parents in their lives. You will make it work. They will have two homes with two beds, but they will have two active parents.
Then one person changes their mind. They want to take their chances in court. Battle it out. It could be for a number of reasons, but money or vengeance are probably the top. They don’t want to share. They want the children in their homes and in their lives full-time. You can see them occasionally.
You struggle to breathe. You’ve lived with your children 365 days. You’ve woken up with them. You’ve fed them breakfast, bathed them and taken them to school. You’re a full-time parent. They are the most important people in your life.
You look up at the person that claimed to love you and see that this person doesn’t care. They don’t care about what you did or who you are to the children. They are grieving. You fight it out and go to court.
Your children may be old enough to talk to the judge, but no one is listening. Lawyers, courts and money spent becomes your life. You didn’t plan this. You can’t understand how one person is being given your children and you are being regulated to seeing your child 48 days a year with two weeks vacation in the summer.
It’s not fair.
But, you accept it. You accept the terms you were given determined to make the best of it. You show up at every recital, baseball game and school program. You are going to be an active parent no matter the circumstances dealt.
Your ex who got the kids can’t let it go. They play games. Wreak havoc in your life. Destroy you with their lies. But, you make it a point to keep your head in the game. Live your life above water. This divorce has already cost you too much. You move on.
Then something happens. Your ex is blocking your visitation. Back and forth to court you go. The system doesn’t budge. They tell her/him to stop and they continue. They tell her/him they can’t deny your visitation and they do it anyway. The courts do nothing.
The light in your children’s eyes diminish. They miss you. You miss them. You get another lawyer. Back to court you’ll go. You request a modification to the child custody. You want a 50% shared custody schedule with a 50% schedule.
Your lawyers try to advise you both in mediation to split up the children. You can get the boys and she can get the girls. You are both shocked. You both are adamant that the children not be split up. They are siblings. They need each other. You need them.
Your lawyer advises you separately saying that you could win custody of your sons based off your ex’s antics. You get to have them the majority of the time. No more blocked visitations. But, what about your daughter?
You agree to move forward believing something is better than nothing. You can’t be without your children anymore. They need you. Your daughter will be fine you think.
You smile. You thank God. You thank your lawyers. You’ve finally won.
But, your daughter loss.
Your children are now split between two homes. She has no brothers there to defend her. She is now alone.
Note: This is the reality in many broken families. Going through a divorce and custody can be both brutal and painful for the children. If you’re battling it out with your former partner, think about the children. Don’t split them up. They need both of you. Let them decide who they want to live with. Listen to them. Respect their decision or let them go. Don’t separate them. Remember the story from the Bible of King Solomon who wanted to split the child in half because both women were fighting over him? The real mother said “Please don’t kill my son,” the baby’s mother screamed. “Your Majesty, I love him very much, but give him to her. Just don’t kill him.” She was willing to lose her son than see him die. Which woman are you?