Sunday, June 27, 2010

World Cup Soccer, Family Law and Stewardship

I am a big soccer fan. Soccer has a relatively small following in the United States compared to the rest of the world, where it is nearly a religion. I hope that the success enjoyed by the United States national team, and the excitement created by its dramatic moments in the World Cup, will spill over and create American interest in Major League Soccer and in soccer leagues around the world.

This year's World Cup tournament has also made headlines for some controversial calls and non-calls that have tremendously impacted the results of matches. My interest in these controversial calls and non-calls is not so much whether the calls were right or wrong. My interest is how the players and coaches publicly deal with the fallout from the referee's decisions. Do the players whine, complain, and deflect all blame onto the officials? Or do they take the "high road" and accept the decisions for what they are and try to do better next time? In today's uber-media marketplace, you can bet that the players' and coaches' reactions will be replayed and scrutinized ad nauseum.

Watching the way these difficult situations are handled reminds me of parents in divorce cases and child custody disputes. Often, one parent will, time and time again, make decisions and take courses of action that are impulsive, selfish, and designed to antagonize the other parent. The parent on the receiving end of this treatment then has a choice - either turn the other cheek or lash back at the antagonizer. The affected parent often feels as if they must choose between being bullied and pushed around or being no better than the antagonizer. All of these actions and reactions are then scrutinized, ad nauseum, by attorneys and judges alike. Lost in all of this, however, is the devastating effect of such conflict on the children.

At Lewis & Passons, P.C., we encourage our clients to be good stewards of their children. I don't mean stewardship in the strictly monetary sense, but rather the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one's care. Good stewardship in a divorce or custody dispute means, among other things, working together to co-parent the children, leaving the children out of the middle of conflicts and disagreements, and putting the children's needs above your own. According to Texas Family Code Section 153.002, "[t]he best interest of the child shall always be the primary consideration of the court in determining the issues of conservatorship and possession of and access to the child." A parent that is truly exercising good stewardship need not worry whether they are acting in their children's best interests.

A good first step? Sit next to your ex-spouse at your child's next soccer game. I promise your child will notice.

Andrew J. Passons
Lewis & Passons, P.C.
(940) 591-1191