My name is Amy M. Carter. I have been practicing law since 2003 and started my legal career on the West coast. I practice family law and a very specialized area of criminal law. I am also a Certified Mediator and Guardian Ad Litem. Because I handle family law cases on a daily basis it has been weighing on my heart to share my very personal journey in my bio instead of listing all my schools, accomplishments and other accolades. I am hoping it may be able to help someone who is experiencing some of the same issues and explain why I love family law and helping families through this stressful time in their life.
Let me start by saying although I am a divorce lawyer, I am not a proponent of divorce in most situations. I struggled with the decision to divorce for years! I was scared of being by myself. I was scared of the unknown. I struggled as a Christian whether it was a sin for me to end my marriage. I was married for 21 years and we had four children. My ex-husband and I were married at a very young age. I was just starting college and had no idea what I wanted in a partner and quite frankly probably did not understand the gravity of the commitment I was making at 19 years old.
We tried to make our marriage work and went back and forth with two periods of separation...which in hindsight was not good for the children. I experienced terrible parental alienation. The children were told horrible things about me. I never thought I would be litigating parental alienation claims in my clients’ cases and living it in real life! But I struggled terribly with ending the marriage because I felt I could live in the unhappiness and I could be on auto pilot and make it work. But in 2019 my oldest daughter rocked my world. She suffered the worst from the alienation, she saw the passive aggressive behavior, she heard the terrible comments that I would not respond to...and in July 2019 she tried to take her life. Even as I sit here today writing this story it takes my breath away. I felt like a terrible mother for not seeing her distress. I was scared. I was embarrassed. But, I am telling you the moment the doctors said her father was a trigger I went into to mommy protection mode and I did not look back. I HATE that it came to that for my eyes to be opened, but the reality is that she saved me! She gave me the strength I needed to close that chapter of my life and proceed forward with a divorce. It is an incredibly humiliating experience when your child asks you why you let a person speak to you in that manner or act the way they do. Children are super intuitive and see and hear everything. The divorce process for me was fairly easy...mostly because I agreed to things I would NEVER let my clients do! But I needed to be done and get the children on a new path.
The mental health journey with my oldest daughter has been long and hard and many times very lonely because I was doing it as a single parent. She has no relationship with her dad; which is also hard. I have three children that see their dad and one that does not. So I have lived the parenting plan, the visitation disagreements, the awkward exchanges of custody, the co-parenting or lack there of struggles. But through this process I feel like I have grown as a mother and certainly as a family law practitioner. I have such a better insight on what I am actually arguing over and what my clients are going through.
For those of you that are struggling with divorce or custody situations...it is hard and raw and there is nothing pretty about it. But I will tell you, once I jumped off that cliff and once I mourned the death of my marriage (because it literally felt like apart of me had died), I was able to move on and see clearly what I wanted for my life and these children’s lives. I wanted them to grow up and see a loving marriage, a family that supports each other and wants to spend time together, a family that communicates kindly and respectfully, and see a husband and step-father that loves me as Christ intended. I was remarried in 2021 and God has blessed our family immensely. So if you get anything from my story know the kids see everything, sometimes they feel your pain worse than you do, autopilot is not good for you or anyone in the house, a child with mental health issues is difficult to deal with as a parent, fear is a real thing and it can be debilitating and prevent you from moving forward. Always try to let your faith be bigger than you fear, and know that God has a plan for you and there is happiness on the other side of this journey!
I would love to help you through your process and to be apart of your journey moving forward!
On a side note…some of you may be wondering what type of criminal law I practice. I handle special victims cases. These cases include sex crimes, child pornography, and child physical abuse cases. I use to prosecute these cases and in 2009 when I left the District Attorney’s office I started doing some limited defense work surrounding only these types of cases. I am very picky about the cases that I take and assign my name too and I approach these cases in a very different manner than many defense attorneys. Sex crimes cases are a very specific area of the law and require specific training and experience to handle these cases effectively. There is also a very different dynamic that is added to the defense when you have a female attorney…especially one with four children. It is much more received by a jury when a women is cross examining a female victim or a child than when a male is cross examining these types of victims. These cases can tear families apart and they are just extremely difficult to handle all the way around. If you have a loved one that needs some assistance with a sex crimes case or a case related to allegations of child abuse, I would be more than happy to talk to you about how Jacob and I can assist your family.