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When To Pivot – Basketball & Child Custody Orders

Journalists have searched for meaningful words to describe how people have dealt with the life changing events caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. One of the words that has surfaced is “pivot” – a term generally associated with basketball. In basketball, a player must keep the pivot foot on the floor but is permitted to turn in different directions by moving the other foot. By pivoting, the player can protect the ball, pass to a teammate or take a shot at the basket.

So what does a basketball word have to do with child custody orders? The answer is – knowing when and how to pivot is an essential part of being a good parent.        ­­­

Texas law requires that child custody orders include specific language about child support payments, possession schedules, insurance coverage and a number of other matters. The up-side of a detailed order is the clarity of the obligations. The down-side of a detailed order is the lack of pivot options.

Every parent knows that as their child grows there will be different challenges and changing perspectives on their part and also from the child’s point of view. In order to deal with that evolution, a parent needs to recognize when the time is right to pivot and how to accomplish that pivot. If the parents are in s­ync with each other, the pivot will be made by agreement. If the parents disagree, they need a referee/judge to take control of the pivot options and reset the rules stated in the custody order.

The Law

The Texas Family Code says that a “material and substantial change of circumstances” is necessary to support a request to modify a child custody order. In basketball terminology, that means the child has moved onto a different game on a different court with different rules and participation in the game requires a pivot to a different direction.

The “new games” and “new rules” that parents and children may encounter can take a number of different forms, including the following:

A Change In The Education Game

The shift of social and academic atmospheres can be dramatic with each move up the educational ladder, especially from middle school to high school. Financial obligations increase with the purchase of a vehicle and insurance coverage. Participation in extra-curricular activities requires the commitment of time and money. The educational progress every parent expects for their child pulls changes along with it.

A New Player In The Game

A divorce creates a gap in the lives of children and parents. Part of the recovery process generally involves forming new relationships. When a parent brings a third party into the family circle, it can create turmoil or insecurity for a child – maybe even conflict.

Playing On A Different Court

Divorce can take a significant financial toll on parents. Recovery from those expenses may mean finding different employment. A change in jobs can include working different hours, travel away from home or even relocation to a different city. Changes of that kind produce a ripple effect that reaches virtually all aspects of a child’s life.

A Change In The Rules Of The Game

Usually, the animosity and defensiveness that is part of a divorce will subside with time. Sometimes, that is not the case. Either way, the changes that always come about after a divorce can have a significant effect on the relationship between a child and a parent. Those adjustments may result in the child voicing a preference for changes.

The Pivot Decision

Psychologists agree that children do well in adjusting to the effects of divorce if their parents make decisions while focused on the best interests of their kids.

In basketball language – kids do fine when their parents agree on when to pivot and how to change direction without asking the referee/judge to change the rules of the game.