5th Sep 2017

Doctor Foster went where!?

As the award-winning BBC television series, Doctor Foster, returns for a second series, family law expert Stephen Root takes a look at the fact behind the fiction.

The story so far

As many of you will know, the first series explored the consequences of finding out a partner has been unfaithful and detailed the emotional impact that infidelity and divorce can have. With an extremely powerful performance by Suranne Jones as the “wronged woman” – Dr Gemma Foster –  we saw a genuine portrayal of how people can act at a time of stress.

It goes without saying that divorce is extremely stressful, one of the worst times in anybody’s lives and in my experience as a family lawyer, it can bring out either the best in people or the very worst. The separation depicted here was extremely bitter, with a lot of anger. The situation became toxic and destructive.

The way ahead 

Set some two years after divorce, the second series promises to take an interesting look at some of the long-term effects separation can have and, based on advanced previews, how much harder it is to go forward from a “bad divorce” – ultimately every action has a consequence.

Much like what has gone before, this theme is far from a work of fiction. It’s true that if someone goes through a bitter split, it is very difficult to focus on the future until you have resolved that anger and have been able to move beyond it.

Where there are children involved it is important that you are able to do this otherwise the anger and hurt you feel will spill over into the ongoing relationship you are bound to have with the other parent, making it much harder for your children.

Building a new future

If you are in the unfortunate position of going through one of the worst experiences in your life, then however difficult it is (or indeed how impossible my advice may feel), it is important to try and think of life beyond the divorce. Believe me – hard as it may seem at the time, there is a life after divorce and it is possible to be happy again.

It is very tempting, especially if like Dr Foster you are the person that feels ‘wronged’, to try and make the other person pay. However, in my experience, all that tends to mean is that a painful process drags out and the legal costs spiral, the result of which is very often a similar result as if you had dealt matters in a more constructive way.

It can be of immense value to try and consider mediation or collaborative law, both processes that are designed to try and minimise conflict. If you are struggling to get over the relationship then also consider seeking professional help from a suitably qualified family consultant or counsellor. It is not a weakness to do so but can be very effective in helping you come to terms with the changes in your life – surely money well spent.

As for Doctor Foster – well I guess the second series will show us exactly what has happened to her and the long term fall out of a toxic separation. It will be fascinating to see where she ends up.

Described in industry directories as "a top collaborative lawyer", Stephen Root is a Director and Family Lawyer at Berwins with over 30 years of legal expertise. 

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