Lawyers Are All About Family by Andrea R. Stiles
When I was a little girl, I knew that I wanted to do something “important” when I grew up. I was certain that I would do something to make the world a better place, but I had no idea what shape my calling would take. My destiny was about to unfold.
When I was ten years old, my parents divorced and it was a messy affair. There were four of us kids — my older brother, me, and my younger sister, and brother. From our point of view, we lost both of our parents in the divorce and our lives changed forever. Our stay-at-home mother was awarded custody of us and she received use of our house, but did not have enough money to make ends meet. So, she found a job and went to work. She was exhausted and overwhelmed and we struggled to keep the lights on. We were left alone most of the time and missed our mother, who was no longer there to take care of us after school, help with homework, make our dinner or sooth our pains in times of hurt.
We learned to view our father as the villain. We saw things through our mother’s eyes and felt that we had nothing and that he had everything. We decided that our father must not love us and so we resisted spending time with him. When we did visit him, we made sure that he knew how angry we were and let him know that we believed our misery was his fault. The four of us were caught in the middle of a war that had no victors. With the passage of years I came to realize that both of my parents could have done things better. Both thought they were doing their best at the time.
Rebuilding broken families turned out to be my calling — my opportunity to do important work that would change the world and make it a better place to live — one family at a time. I love being a family law attorney. I wake up each morning knowing that I will be the force of positive change for children and families in crisis. I know that my work is integral in knitting our social fabric — society depends on healthy, functional families in order to prosper. My work gives me the opportunity to teach parents how to share their children and show them how bickering and disparaging remarks will affect their families. I teach parents how to problem-solve and work together to meet their children’s needs, so that they may rise above personal self interest for the benefit of their children. These are just a few of the things family lawyers do to help families.
Being a lawyer provides me with resources to make good things happen for families, even when there is disagreement between the parties about what is “good.” I can secure counseling for adults and children who need support and guidance. I can secure financial advisors for people who need help managing their resources and dividing property. And, if all else fails, I can present evidence to a Judge who will make decisions that resolve disputes that the parties cannot. Protecting and guiding families is an awesome responsibility and an honor because lawyers can heal broken families and make the world a better place, one family at a time.
© 2009 Andrea R. Stiles, Esq.
Andrea R. Stiles is a partner of Batzli Wood & Stiles in Richmond, and practices in the area of Family Law. She is the Immediate Past-president of the Family Law Section of the Virginia State Bar and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers.