What We Can Learn About Custody From “Succession”

Emotional turmoil, power struggles, child custody, and unanswered questions.

Some specifics regarding the last season of HBO’s Succession are addressed in this post.
“Succession” delves into the lives of the Roys, a high-profile, wealthy, and dysfunctional family, as they navigate power struggles, corporate intrigue, and personal relationships.
Amid themes of wealth and power, the show highlights the emotional turmoil and power struggles that can emerge during the separation and divorce process – which is imbued throughout the series with Logan Roy’s third marriage to Marcia Roy and how that affects family dynamics.
For this post, we will touch on Logan’s son Kendall’s relationship with his estranged wife, Rava, and their children. Kendall and Rava are part of a wealthy and high-profile family who reside in Manhattan and Kendall has intense personality and addiction challenges.
After Logan’s death, Rava informs Kendall that she is not going to take their children to their grandfather Logan’s funeral because she is concerned that New York City is too dangerous. The danger she perceives is a result of protests after the election of Jeryd Mencken, which Kendall and the leadership at Waystar Royco helped to bring about.
Kendall tracks Rava down and confronts her in the street with the children in the car. He threatens to get an order to keep her from taking the children to another residence in upstate New York instead of attending the funeral.
Significantly, Kendall shows self-control even during this intense moment. His father has died, the political climate is changing, and his empire may be crashing. But Kendall chooses not to do what many would: He does not open the door of the car where the children are located. He does not create the ultimate scene and physically take the children out of her car in that heated moment. He does not create a more damaging scene.
Instead, he walks away.
After the funeral, he calmly asks his assistant to identify a few family lawyers so that he can discuss getting full custody of the children.
For all of Kendall’s significant issues, his handling of this high-stress situation is fairly positive. You could argue that his desire for full custody is entwined with his need for power and control, or a feeling of the loss of any control. (But that is a different post altogether.)
Over the course of the series, both Kendall and Rava appear to work together parenting the children, though Rava is clearly taking on the majority of the responsibilities. Though they often disagree, they manage to keep their difficult conversations out of the earshot of their children – even in stress-filled environments.
Of course, no ongoing parental interactions with their children are perfect, and there are some scenes in the series that show the children in uncomfortable positions with their parents and the larger Roy family. But for the most part, Kendall and Rava show a united front on behalf of their children, and particularly against the willful and powerful Logan Roy.
Based on what we see, the characters do a fairly good job of parenting under these circumstances. Would Kendall get full custody of the children if he fought for it? My guess is no, but what he may get are some clear parameters for the future. Perhaps the parties’ agreement should have included a provision that each parent shall make the children available for important family events such as weddings and funerals. Would Rava then have been in violation of a court order, or, given the possible protests, would the court have understood the special circumstances?
As with many issues left open at the close of Succession, we’ll never know for sure.

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