Many of us will have watched the third and final series of BBC drama “The Split”. Spoiler alert! If you have not finished watching the series yet, the following contains some spoilers.
I am certain I will not be the only family lawyer to have been asked how “realistic” the legal aspects of the various storylines within The Split are. Whilst I won’t set out an analysis of every legal reference within the show, my short answer is – both the legal issues raised and the principles of law applied have a ring of truth, though some aspects are of course designed for television and with entertainment in mind.
The thing that struck me the most about the recent series was its timeliness with the implementation of the real life “no-fault divorce” on 6 April 2022 – the series was released just 2 days before, on 4 April 2022. Whilst I assume that Hannah and Nathan’s divorce was underway well before no-fault divorce was introduced (and therefore that one was essentially forced to attribute blame to the other), the broader way in which they handle matters relating to their finances and the arrangements for the children is, at least in the end, reflective of the shift in behaviour no-fault divorce seeks to promote.
Whilst being family lawyers themselves, Hannah and Nathan each choose to be legally represented. Their intention is to have a “good divorce” and to agree both financial matters and arrangements for the children amicably. They aim to finalise their “divorce agreement”, which provides that Hannah will stay in the family home, and Nathan will live elsewhere, until the youngest child goes to college. The good divorce is then de-railed when a relationship with another is unveiled which leads them both to proceed in a sadly more traditional mode.
When Nathan’s solicitor, Melanie, takes an aggressive and combative approach to resolving matters – both financial and in relation to the children, we see how this approach only serves to add fuel to the high-running tensions between Hannah and Nathan, and how – coupled with numerous other strains on them and their wider family – they struggle to reach agreement and to maintain a calm homelife for their children. In particular, the suggestion that the family home should be sold immediately causes a great degree of disagreement and hostility.
Eventually, when Melanie tells Nathan that she wants to see him get a least a quarter of Hannah’s shares in the law firm, Nathan tells her, “you’ve never asked me what I want. You just tell people what they’re going to get at whatever cost”. Nathan fires Melanie, and he and Hannah then sit down together, in the family home, to work out an agreement.
Many families who have experienced the breakdown of a marriage will recognise at least some of the difficulties, disagreements and heartache that Hannah, Nathan and their children go through. Whilst the ultimate “modern family” ending portrayed in The Split may not, in reality, be possible for some couples.
How can Moore Barlow help?
Our role as family lawyers is to help the journey of closing one chapter and starting another to be as calm and non-confrontational as possible. At Moore Barlow, we are committed to this collaborative approach, and not to increasing tensions and fees “at whatever cost”. If you would like to speak to one of our family lawyers, please contact us.