BBC drama ‘Come Home’ family breakdown: Was it realistic?

The three-part BBC TV series ‘Come Home’ concluded on Tuesday with mixed reviews – it was perhaps not the most compelling watch. It depicted a family in crisis and many critics deemed it predictable and mundane.

Mum had a breakdown and left her three children behind. Dad very quickly asked a less than ideal replacement mum/girlfriend to move in, who had escaped a violent partner. Everyone behaved badly in different ways and the family ended up in Court fighting over who the children should live with, only to then wonder how on earth things had gone so wrong as to get to that point.

As the critics say, it was a predictable family breakdown but for those involved in the legal sector the final episode did, to a limited extent, realistically demonstrate how such cases are dealt with by the Court and the series picked up on many themes that the Court routinely deals with:

  • Breakdown in communication. The wife had an affair which she was surprised to hear her husband had known about. Her husband pretended he had a vasectomy and was equally surprised to hear his wife had realised the birth of their third child meant he had lied about the operation. The parents didn’t start to properly talk to each other until after the Court hearing concluded. Could the hearing have been avoided if they had talked to each other before?
  • Welfare issues. The Court is not interested in how badly adults behave, but how that behaviour affects their children’s welfare. The adults were in crisis in different ways. Mum ran away, drank too much, took drugs and had sex with strangers. Dad tried to minimise the impact on his children of his girlfriend’s background and behaviour and believed that moving in a new carer for his children solved the issue of their missing mother. At times, he prioritised his relationship with his girlfriend above the welfare of his children and was oblivious to his girlfriend’s own agenda. They got to the point of a Court hearing before they started to realise that neither were model parents at a time of crisis and that what really mattered was how their children were being affected by their behaviour.
  • Children being involved in conflict between parents. As their parents’ relationship broke down, the children were caught in the crossfire, with their son leaving home, their eldest daughter having been violently assaulted and the youngest child bewildered as to why she didn’t do things with mum anymore. Neither parent really talked to the children apart from a children and family court reporter, indeed dad told his eldest daughter to get over the violent assault against her.

Whilst the series doesn’t raise any new issues it does conclude with a little known message: decisions by Courts in relation to children are not necessarily decisions that either parent truly wants. Recent figures published show that the uptake of family mediation continues to fall. Family mediation provides an alternative to the Court process and your children can be involved in the process if your mediator has the right qualifications for this. Court hearings are not always avoidable and mediation isn’t always suitable but it is important to consider other options and get legal advice at an early stage.

For information and advice relating to Family Law, please contact the team on 0113 201 4900 or email family.law@emsleys.co.uk.

Gabbie  Clasper

Written by

Gabbie Clasper

Head of Family Law

Gabbie has over 20 years’ experience in family law. She has expert knowledge in complex issues including financial aspects following divorce; pre and post-nuptial agreements; cases with an international element; and civil partnerships. Gabbie is regularly instructed by clients based across the country and abroad. She...

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