Co-Parenting Chronicles

Co-Parenting Chronicles

Ross and Carol’s Journey in Friends – Insights from a Scottish Family Lawyer

“So no one told you life was gonna be this way…”

This marks the second article in our series examining the Friends TV sitcom through the lens of a Scottish Family Lawyer and intertwining it with real-life scenarios.

This article looks into the relationship between Ross Gellar, and his ex-wife Carol following the birth of their son, Ben.

Ross and Carol’s situation is not an unusual one, and in our line of work, we advise clients regularly about how to best manage the complexities that arise when co-parenting with an ex-partner.

Parental Rights and Responsibilities

Provided Ross was named on the birth certificate, Ross and Carol have equal parental rights and responsibilities with Ben (A father who is not married to the child’s mother and who is not named on the birth certificate will not automatically have PRRs).

What this means in practical terms, is that regardless of the living arrangements for Ben, Ross and Carol have an equal right to make decisions affecting Ben’s life and well-being.

It would be open for Carol’s partner Susan to apply for PRRs with Ben as well, because she has a legitimate interest in Ben’s life having been a third parent to Ben. If Susan were to make an application for PRRs, this would not affect Ross’s rights.

Contact and Residence

Both Carol and Ross have an equal right to determine where Ben resides. If there were to be a disagreement as to where Ben was to reside regularly, then it would be open to Ross or Carol to apply to the court for a residence order.

In the absence of a shared care arrangement, it is normal for one parent to be the “resident parent” and for the other parent to have contact with the child. From the little that we see of Ben throughout the series, it is likely that Carol is the resident parent, and that Ross has contact with him on days that have been agreed between them.

As explained above, the fact that Ben might have his principal residence with his mum has no impact on Ross’s rights to make decisions affecting his day-to-day life.

Negotiating Disputes

Although Ross and Carol appear to be reasonably amicable in the circumstances, there are unsurprisingly numerous times throughout the series where they do not necessarily agree, including whether Ben should be playing with GI Joe or Barbie…

Having disagreements as to how to raise a child will be common for all parents, but even small disagreements that arise between separated parents can have a significant impact on how effectively they can co-parent.

It ought not to be controversial to say that it is better for children if parents can resolve disagreements directly with one another. Where this is not possible, there are several agencies and independent solicitors offering mediation services to help parents come to a compromised position.

In some situations, mediation will not be appropriate and it will be necessary to instruct solicitors to assist in coming to a negotiated agreement.

No matter what route Parents choose, the focus should always be on the best interests of their child(ren).

For more information on our Family Law services click here.

Edward Fitzgerald
Senior Solicitor



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