Who is Ted Lasso?
When Ted Lasso first premiered, the loveable coach traveled to England with his best buddy and assistant coach, wearing a wedding band but with no family in sight. Over the past three seasons, we have been introduced to Ted’s wife and son and the real reason the former American football coach uprooted his life to coach soccer in England, his family. Like many, Ted was experiencing a breakdown of his marriage and he and his wife decided to separate to see if separating would allow them the time and space to work through their marriage problems so they could reconcile and reunite together as a family with their young son.
What does he teach us about Family Law and Divorce?
The job, across the world from his family in the United States, acted as a cover for what was truly going on. He was “taking a job” when in reality he was separating from his wife. Like the pleasantries we know and love from Coach Lasso, his relocation solely for his coaching job didn’t scratch the surface on what truly was going on (a theme that is repeated throughout the series). Then when the separation becomes permanent and his wife asks for a divorce, we walk with Ted through signing his divorce papers and co-parenting across the globe. Now, as the series has ended, we see how the international co-parenting arrangement has worn on Coach Lasso resulting in his decision to head back to the US to be with his son.
What we see in Ted Lasso and in our clients:
As a family law attorney, I can’t help but see the implications of Coach Lasso’s move to England and his decision to return home on his inevitable modification of custody case with his former spouse.
First, his initial move to England was supposedly to give his wife some space so they could work on their relationship. While yes, the move gave her space, it also resulted in distance from his son. At the critical point where Ted and his wife were no longer living together and a new status quo was being set, Ted moved thousands of miles away effectively consenting to his wife having temporary primary physical custody of his son. Then when the separation turned into a divorce, Ted’s move to the U.K. resulted in consenting to his former spouse having permanent primary physical custody and all final decision-making authority for major decisions. He also was agreeing to only see his son on FaceTime and long school breaks. We see this in the show when his son, Henry, comes to visit in England for relatively short periods of time and Ted tries to maintain his relationship with his son on FaceTime.
Now under the custodial arrangement that has become the status quo, Ted will have the responsibility of seeking a modification of custody and visitation upon his return, back into his son’s daily life. As a Georgia licensed attorney I can only speak to how that would play out in Georgia being mindful that Ted is moving back to his hometown. In Georgia, Ted would need to show that there has been a material change in circumstances. With moving from the U.K. back to the states, Ted’s move would constitute a material change in circumstances. Even with Ted’s dramatic return back to be with his son, his move would not serve as an automatic change of custody and visitation. Depending on how flexible his former spouse is with co-parenting, he may be able to see his son immediately and increase his visitation. However, the international parenting plan would still apply and he would not be entitled to any additional time that is enforceable by the Court until his modification was granted. Seeing that his former spouse strategized and encouraged Ted to take a job in U.K. which conveniently resulted in her having primary physical custody, it is likely that she will not so easily agree to a change of custody and visitation.
Ted may be returning to the States in anticipation of reuniting with his son but his first visit may be to see a judge.
But that’s the way the cookie crumbles. We wish you God-speed, Ted. Thank you for the experience.