She’s back in the second series currently airing on BBC1 and once again is gripping the nation.
A GP and senior surgery partner, who up until two years ago was happily married to property developer Simon. Having met in London they subsequently moved to Parminster, Simon’s childhood home. They have a son, Tom, now 14 years of age.
In 2015 Gemma faced a series of betrayals. The discovery of a blonde hair on Simon’s scarf led her to unravel a web of lies – Simon’s affair with younger woman, Kate, the daughter of one of her patients; worse still Kate’s pregnancy; also that Simon’s latest property development project was nearing bankruptcy and that he had raided their savings and forged her signature to remortgage the family home without her knowledge.
In a confrontation that is the stuff of dreams for many who find themselves in such a situation, Gemma finally exposed Simon to Kate’s parents over a painfully difficult dinner party at their home. After that she ran him and Kate out of town having secured a divorce, a restraining order and child arrangements providing for Tom to live with her.
Two years on and Gemma appears to have her life back on track – she is once again the top doctor in her old practice and is enjoying a good relationship with her teenage son. They continue to live at the former family home although the consequences of Simon’s previous financial dealings mean that she has been neither able to give the place a lick of paint nor update her wardrobe!
BUT Simon was, of course, never going to stay away forever – Parminster is his home town and Tom is his son, too – so he and Kate are returned married and with their daughter, Amelie. They have moved in to a £1million architect-designed home complete with swimming pool and Simon is, once again, working in property development with a new town centre scheme well underway.
Old resentments soon resurface to reveal Gemma, a woman consumed with bitterness and revenge and Simon, a man determined to extinguish her from their son’s life.
So, where has Simon found the funds to pay for that glass-fronted considerably-richer-than-you house?
Given what we know of the parties’ financial circumstances two years ago, it is possible that the former family home was transferred to Gemma on a ‘clean-break’ basis i.e. ending all monetary claims between her and Simon except in relation to maintenance for Tom. The various estate agents now being sent to value the property at Simon’s behest could simply represent attempts by him to get her to sell-up and leave. Alternatively, he may have a deferred interest and be entitled to seek a sale of the property now that Tom is no longer living there.
Either way, Simon’s current expensive lifestyle appears incompatible with the penury he was alleged to be facing in 2015. Thus, whatever the terms of any financial settlement, Gemma might now want to try and set them aside on the basis of fraud or material non-disclosure.
The biggest hurdle she will face is proving that Simon was lying at the time their financial order was made. Proportionality also remains key, hence Simon may, in any event, be able to show that any non-disclosure there was would not lead to a substantially different order being made. Notwithstanding the changes in the law that came in to being around the time of this marriage breakdown the practical reality is that non-disclosure cases remain difficult to argue and their success cannot be guaranteed.
And what of Tom?
Tom was very painfully drawn in to the ultimate breakdown of his parents’ marriage. Gemma purposely sent him round to Kate’s house one day before school so he would find his Dad there. That same day she also collected him from school and drove him to a remote location making it look to Simon as if she had killed him in an act of mad revenge. Move forward two years his parents still essentially hate each other and the imposed geographical and emotional distance in the meantime have facilitated a failure to sort out their issues despite still sharing the joint responsibility for his care.
Throughout this time Tom lived with his mum but following Simon’s return to Parminster he soon moved out to live with his dad and new family (Q: What did Simon tell Tom about his mum that made him want to leave her home?). That arrangement ended at Kate’s behest following an allegation that Tom had sexually assaulted his school friend – an incident he subsequently tells Gemma he was too drunk to remember. So, now he and Gemma are off – destination as yet unknown although it is likely the coastal childhood home she has retreated to before.
On any application for an order to determine the arrangements for Tom’s life, at 14 years of age his wishes and feelings will be of considerable importance to the court. When he left his home with Gemma, Tom voted with his feet so it was likely that a court application made then would have done more harm than good to his relationship with her. Since then he has been rejected by his dad who, at a time when Tom perhaps needed him most, chose instead to prioritise his second family and his business. With security and stability in short supply, a further order that he lives with his mum made now might facilitate some much needed calm amidst the ongoing chaos.
And what of Gemma’s wedding present to Kate?
George Herbert said ‘Living well is the best revenge’ but this is Doctor Foster so it is surely something more explosive than that!
If you are affected by any of the issues raised by the BBC in Dr Foster you can contact one of the specialist family lawyers at MERRICK to discuss on 0161 838 5410.
Next Episode: Tuesday 26 September 2017 on BBC1 at 9pm
Questions courtesy of Den of Geek (www.denofgeek.com)
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