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  • Writer's pictureStephen Williams

What Poker Can Teach Us about Child Custody and Co-Parenting

There’s a lot less causation in our world than we think. There are questionable decisions that work out and there are conservative, rational decisions that blow up in our face. We get that, generally…

But for some reason, in Child Custody, a sphere of human activity with even more chaos than usual, we think if we just do exactly the right thing and know “what will happen if this” and “what will happen with that” ahead of time then not only can we see the future but we can also create exactly the future we want. We’re less rational than usual in the time we need to be extra so.

We never know the outcome of our decisions and actions in the fullness of time; there are just too many variables. So what can we do? Think like a poker player. Here’s how…

  1. Know yourself and your playing personality.

Are you assertive or passive? Willing to take risks or risk averse? Are you cracking jokes at the table and making conversation or are you sunglasses and headphones and super, super serious?

It doesn’t matter which, we’re never the ones to Judge. What matters is that you behave and make decisions in line with who you are or, better yet, who you want to be for yourself and your family.

  1. Play the hand you’re dealt.

If you’ve given some thought to who you are and what’s really important to you, that will inform how you approach any given situation. There’s always an opportunity to get information, to give information, go “all in” or maybe just pick your battles and live to play another day. Kenny Rogers wasn’t wrong.

In Child Custody, this might mean making the most of your visitation even if it’s not as much time with your kids as you’d like. Maybe it means taking ownership and responsibility of your current situation and learning and growing from it rather than blaming anyone and everyone else you can think of.

And finally…

  1. Don’t judge decisions based on outcomes…

Huh? Isn’t that the point — to make a decision seeking a certain outcome? Nope. Trust Coach Saban and focus on “the process.” Do you know who you are and what you want for your life? Did you make an educated decision in line with who you are and what you want for yourself and your family? Were you disciplined in your execution of the gameplan you decided on? There you go. End of analysis.

In poker, card players use the term “resulting” to describe irrational post facto thinking based on how the cards happen to fall. Not only can this drive you crazy, it can also lead to future suboptimal decision-making. If you hit that Ace on the river you might be more reckless in the future unless you recognize you just got lucky. On the other hand, you might be less likely to stand up for yourself just because of that other time you got particularly unlucky.

~ To sum it up, when we act and make decisions in line with our principles and priorities, we have to get to that place where we look ahead, not knowing what the future brings, and still be able to say “bring it on.”


This article contains general information and should not be construed as legal advice for you and or your unique situation. If you would like to speak more about how you, as a Committed Parent or Caring Relative, can be more effective in your Child Custody case, please visit to schedule your initial consultation at one of our offices. ~SW, Foxtrot

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