I watched the second series of the Doctor Foster television drama with a growing sense of deja vu, as I’m sure many other family solicitors did. I watched in horror as the two parents tried really hard to hurt each other, succeeding on more than one occasion throughout the series. The emotional rollercoaster was obviously exaggerated for great dramatic effect and whilst the actors playing the parents swung unpredictably from obsession to murderous hate, their son was suffering all manner of emotional harm.
So often in practice we come across parents who are so engrossed on disliking (sometimes hating) each other, that they completely lose sight of what is actually the most important thing to both of them. Even in high conflict settings like mediation sessions, if the mediator starts asking them specific details about their children, the tension eases and the room calms. This is a useful technique often employed by skilled mediators. The effect is similar to letting a balloon deflate.
Parents love their children, but what they often cannot agree on is what is best for their offspring, often genuinely believing that it is best that the children do not have any contact with their ex.
In Doctor Foster, as the viewer, it was obvious that Tom was torn between his mum and dad, constantly oscillating between the two, not knowing who to trust or believe and torn apart by their ridiculous behaviour.
My family law practice is varied and as a mediator and litigator I am able to deal with conflict in a number of different ways, sometimes enlisting the help of family consultants and family therapists wherever appropriate. The most fulfilling outcome for me is one in which we are able to reach a constructive and genuine parenting plan for the children involved, as so much damage can be avoided this way.
You can contact Louise Barretto, a Partner in our Family team, on direct dial 020 7091 2869 or by email on firstname.lastname@example.org if you wish to discuss any issue raised in this article or concerning family relationship and divorce matters more widely.