In this series we bring to you first person accounts from people who have been able to successfully navigate through the process of getting a divorce. **Names have been changed to protect privacy. If you or a loved one is going through the process, reach out to us, we offer counselling that is aimed at proving support and easing this process to help you transition into the next phase of your life.
I had been married for 9 years when I realised that my marriage was crumbling around me. My relationship with my wife had been slowly declining for the last few years and now had hit rock bottom. I realised that I had to make a choice soon, for my own mental health and the well being of my children. Somehow, given the cultural conditioning that most of us grow up with, I was hesitant to say the dreaded “D” word out loud. Even today, a simple google search will tell you that in India, most of the divorce proceedings are initiated by women.
It took me while to gather my courage, there is a distinct lack of information even on the internet that helps a person in my position clearly understand his/her options, most of the advice out there seems to have been written by lawyers and for lawyers. One of the biggest questions that I wanted an answer to was – how long is this going to take? I knew things were going to get difficult with my wife and family, I just wanted to know how long before I could start the next phase of my life as a free man. Some of the testimonials I read were truly scary, they almost made me reconsider my decision to ask for a divorce.
The truth is, there is no one answer as to how long your divorce proceedings will take once the papers have been filed. Realistically, expect the process to last a minimum of two years. When you approach the court for the first time, you will be legally required to attempt a reconciliation for period of 6 months (it has been reduced from a period of 1 year). In my own case, mine did not begin as mutual consent divorce, my wife’s legal team had convinced her to demand for a financial settlement (in cash and property) that far exceeded my capabilities. These false expectation wasted a lot of time (and lawyers fee) while also putting unwarranted mental pressure on all parties. It was over a year before my own legal team was able propose a more realistic settlement. Finally after realising that it would be impossible to pressure me into an unfair arrangement , the other side agreed to filling for a divorce by mutual consent. By the time I was a free man, 3 years had passed since I made up my mind. I would be lying if I said that it was an easy process. I was under a lot of pressure, mentally and financially. My work suffered and so did my social relationships. This process will be eased for you, as it was for me, if you engage with legal council that have ethical practices and who keep your interests on the top of their priority list. Legal fee should be agreed upon in the very beginning to prevent any unforeseen problems for the duration of the proceedings. Though you should be prepared for any number of roadblocks that will invariably appear, your legal team should not be one of them; finding and hiring a lawyer who you’re comfortable with should ward of the insanity that usually accompanies this process. I was fortune in this regard, and that has made all the difference. Even now 5 years later, when people in similar situations come to me for advice, this is the one thing that is always on the top of the list.