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 was never the stereo-typical Indian girl that you see in society and popular culture. I have a MBA and was doing well in my corporate career when I met my husband when we were both 30. Ours was a quick wedding, both of us were ready to settle down and start a family. Coming from similar backgrounds and with matching expectations from life we were well matched. Things were pretty good for the next 6-7 years, career and life were progressing equally well, and were were blessed with twins when I was 37.
One child is a challenge, two were more than a handful; but being a mother changes you. The moment I held them I knew that I wanted to dedicate my life to giving them the best upbringing I could. I quit my job, my husband was supportive as we knew that it would not put a major financial strain on our young family. It was when I hit 40 that my life came crashing down. I found out through mutual friends that my husband was cheating on me with one of his colleagues. I was devastated, more because I was caught completely unaware. He readily admitted to the affair, and informed me that he was unwilling to to fix the situation. He wanted a divorce.
Then started the hunt for information, facts and a legal representative. The sheer amount of conflicting information that I was encountering left me dazed and confused. My biggest fear, one that kept me up at night, how would my children cope with this? I was an emotional wreck, I did not want my children to be collateral damage. Unlike many cases where there is a bitter custody battle, my husband was willing, even eager to hand over full custody to me. At first I was relived, but that was short lived; in exchange for no conflict over the custody he wanted to pay a negligible amount (cash and property) of child maintenance.
That is when I reached out to a lawyer specialising in family law. I wanted a person who would explain my options to me in a way that I understood. Under the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act of 1956, a wife has the right to claim maintenance from her husband. But I wasn’t doing this for myself, I needed to secure the future of my children. My husband, on his lawyer’s urging said that given my educational qualification and job prospects I should forgo that and be satisfied with getting minimum support from my husband.
It was a long and painful process. After almost a year of conflict between us, my lawyer finally suggested a mediator, and I will be forever grateful to her for this suggestion. If it wasn’t for those sessions with the mediator, I think I would still be fighting this in the courts. This person was able understand both our perspectives and suggested equitable solutions have secured my children’s future.
At 43, after two gruelling years, my children and I have finally been able to start life afresh. Though they are young, they still know that things have changed for their family. The maintenance from my husband is taking care of all their needs as well as the house we live in. I still don’t want to leave them in childcare and want to spend as much time as can with them. I now do freelance consulting with global conglomerates and work from home.I’ve learnt plenty from this whole ordeal. Yes divorce is hard, but sound legal advice and mediation will definitely help clear your way. And it’s never too late to restart your life, even though it might look different that was you dreamt it would be.