The Split’s over, does it show real-life family law?
Last night the final episode of The Split, a legal drama set in the fast paced world of London’s high end divorce circuit, aired. As a family lawyer, you might think it would be too much of a “Busman’s Holiday” for me, but the truth is the goings on at Noble Hale Defoe was eagerly anticipated escapism each week.
The series was full of glamour and dramatic plot twists which dealt with a variety of family law issues including divorce, pre-nuptial agreements and sperm donation. A key element of the series was the relationship of two of the main characters, Hannah and Nathan, a family lawyer and barrister respectively. They too were dealing with their own separation, as well as navigating issues such as the introduction of Nathan’s new partner to their children, and the announcement of a new baby. Hannah and Nathan try to deal with their affairs amicably but a joint meeting between them and their solicitors ends badly. Hannah experiences stress induced heart palpitations and it is clear that disentangling their lives is painful for them. Later in the series, they agree to parent their children using a Nesting arrangement. This is a relatively new phenomenon where the children of the relationship remain living in the family home, and the parents move in and out of the property at different times to care for them.
The Split portrayed Hannah and Nathan struggling with this arrangement, highlighting why sometimes Nesting doesn’t work. A vital part of Nesting’s success is good communication between both ex partners. In Hannah and Nathan’s case, there was no setting of “ground rules”. So when Nathan brought his new partner to the family home, where she prepared dinner for the children and stayed the night, this upset Hannah because it had not been discussed. The lack of ground rules and boundaries meant that the children felt torn and upset that their mother was being replaced by their father’s new partner. There was further upset when the children were told Nathan’s new partner was expecting his baby. Nathan had gone against Hannah’s request that it was too early to share this news with them. The Split showed why a “Nesting” arrangement sometimes doesn’t work but that is not always the case. Each case is different and legal advice should always be obtained before entering into an agreement to explore whether it is likely to work for you and, most importantly, benefit your children.
Some may argue that The Split is unrealistic, using creative license and glamour to drive audience numbers. However, what it did demonstrate is that we all need a lawyer when we don’t have the emotional strength to advocate for ourselves. Personally speaking, Monday nights just won’t be the same without the Defoe sisters…….
Image courtesy of BBC.