Filing for divorce, going through its long process, struggling on various conflicts and thriving on it, were part of the heaviest crucial decisions I had painfully but courageously and successfully faced.
It was the continuous heavy back and chest pains caused by suppressed pressure, tensions and huge stress that lead me to a physical exhaustion accumulated from seven and a half years, that made me immobile for two days. This woke me up to rise up on my fallen marriage.
Filing for legal separation and divorce were not the only options, but we tried marriage counselling, it failed due to the worst, excessive irreconcilable differences.
Love gradually died when I was treated like a property or a slave, a daily doormat of insecurities, rancour and destructive criticisms of my ex husband. Reflect honestly, if there has been any form of repetitive, unresolved psychological or physical abuse through the years.
I lost my self-esteem trapped in a doomed relationship with daily tumultuous conflicts witnessed by my daughters.
We longed for freedom, harmony and a normal life without excessive prohibitions that trapped our balance growth.
There are no winners in any divorce. There is only deep sense of loss but with many new doors of chances that can bring you to a very challenging start and a promising future depending on the careful decisions you take.
Divorce procedures vary from country to country. The situations of the spouses filing for legal separation, marriage annulment and divorce differ from other cases and the financial matters that must be resolved and if there are children, the legal standards and issues on the child custody, visitation child support and alimony.
Alimony varies from situations and financial status of spouses who are filing for divorce. Alimonies are set fairly on the basic needs of the children and depending on other stipulations agreed by couples in the family court. In case of non-mutual agreement divorce process, there are times that if the wife is the one who filed for the divorce and the wife has a good job, the wife does not get any alimony. There are also cases that a man prefers to be jobless so he could only pass a minimum alimony to the children.
In some worst cases where the father of the children does not have job for many years or the mother of the children could not find any job, consult the municipality where you live and ask which organisations can help you.
Depending on which country you live, there is a government welfare program which helps financially to give the monthly basic child support allowance and with a promise of the father to pay back the government welfare support loan program.
If divorcing couples are both in financial difficulty and they have teenage children who are about to enrol in the university, there are also organisations who help give scholarship funds. This type of generous monthly support of government either for invalidity, scholarship, child’s monthly allowance and unemployment benefits help a divorcee and children not to live below the poverty line. All these shall depend on the family welfare benefits program of the country you reside.
Division of properties, joint or individual bank savings and division of old age pension fund contributions vary from couple to couple, case to case, if one had been working or jobless or a full time housewife for many years and also depending on the prenuptial agreement signed by the couples.
It is best to consult a very good lawyer regarding this matter. Tell your lawyer honestly the PLAIN TRUTH of everything that happened so he would know how to defend you in the case.
For couples who agreed mutually to file divorce and sign papers with mutual agreements on many aspects, this will save you time, money and away from a lot of heart aches and conflicts.
For others who do not agree on mutual divorce and a spouse insists on legal separation only because such spouse limits the other partner not to remarry, then there will be longer family court hearings and litigations. This can be very expensive as it can be prolonged for years.
If there are children caught in between they will be emotionally affected in all angles and this can be like an indelible mark of a dark shadow from childhood to adult years if not properly reconciled and healed.
Granting of full custody of children or shared custody of children to the couples or to a mother or a father shall always depend on what is the best welfare for the children.
The prizes of divorce are freedom, serenity and new portals to improve life for the better.
The prices I faced was not only on six years of family court litigations and legal fees but thriving as a divorcee, I had:
- Sought advice from Consultorio delle donne, an organization who advises psychologically or physically abused women. Know my rights as a woman, wife, mother and Swiss citizen, learn the court procedures in Italian language, found an honest, good lawyer.
- Maintained a good paying job plus part time jobs like teaching English, piano, accepting editing and Italian/English translations.
- Tightened our belts, maximised energy saving ways, budgeted very well even up to the last of five cents, saved by living in a Spartan, thrifty manner.
- Carried a stigma of shame and recurring misjudgments of others. I have learned to wear a cheerful mask of confident stand not to let my sensitivity react against wagging useless tongues.
- Experienced parental alienation from the brain washing against me done by ex husband, the toxic remarks of his relatives reported by my daughters. I counteracted these with honest, simple explanation to keep my girls calm.
- Stand in the role of both mother-father, always considering what is the best welfare of my daughters prior minor or major decisions. Children suffer most in any divorce but despite of difficult times, reduce stress on children, provide stability, warmth, follow up their studies, proper discipline and respect. Create fun times, bonding presence through quality time despite the hectic schedules of waking up early to pre-cook lunch, accompany and fetch them to/from school, work, part time jobs and chores. I honestly told my daughters without sugar coating the situations we faced, without talking bad about their father nor throw blames on his family. We started new life in an empty run down apartment with only clothes, books and few belonging. We slept for two months in the floor on mat of blankets, squatted on the floor like Japanese style as we ate our meals because we didn’t have yet chairs and table. We patiently and gradually filled up through the years our simple new home sweet home with basic Ikea and do-it-yourself furnitures.
- Managed emotions through the roller coaster of letting go bitterness, hatred, anger and regrets. Forgave and acted on resolutions thinking first of my children before my personal needs. Finding time for my passion in writing poetry, novel plots, attending writers’ workshops, contest and publishing a book as artistic refuge kept me enthusiastic in inspiring others too.
- Learned to trust few good friends who truly sympathised and empathised, although in the later years few of them turned out to be backstabbers.
- Faced discrimination from my own compatriots, some digging deeper gossiping cousins, several moralist colleagues and the xenophobic people in the foreign country I lived.
- Fluently, wisely, calmly and honestly defended my rights in Italian language during court hearings. When accused wrongly, I showed detailed proofs and examined documentations in Italian with utmost prudence and understanding prior signing.
- Having been granted full custody of my daughters, while moving into another country, the case was reopened again. There was a stronger struggle of oppositions, including false allegations like fear for intended kidnapping and neglect, falsely raised by the other party’s lawyer to have a higher court order to be imposed, my children’s passports ordered to be submitted to the court, thereby freezing and limiting their movements to any other country and matched with wrong, biased psychological report. At this critical stage, my daughters bravely sought an impromptu meeting with the judge even if it was not allowed by the court. Their dialogue with the judge made him realise what were the honest, strong stand, uninfluenced personal choice of my daughters.
- Reward our monotonous year of stress and sacrifice by traveling to historical European destinations, an effective way to heal our wounds, gain our self-confidence with my daughters learning a lot on other cultures, geography, diversity of mentalities as we explored funny adventures and new horizons.
- Respect court decisions and visiting rights. Being a divorcee was a vulnerable time to be hurt again so be careful during moving on: dating, involvement, rejection, wise decisions, trust, love and priorities.
- Protect your privacy. Be discrete. Even if everything has been solved, reconciled and healed, never air the dirty laundry of the past to the public especially to curious people who dig in your past because they will always misinterpret something because of their selective listening. Some will not understand what you have really been through even if you plainly give them the truth in all matters. Set distance from individuals who invade your privacy regarding this matter. You don’t owe explanations on others who have hidden ulterior motives out of their curiosity of why they want to know everything about you or your children or your ex spouse.
- On cases with long years of court litigations and conflicting family situations, never blame the children nor put so much disturbing emotional weight on them. It is best to find balance and harmony by being calm. Build mutual trust and open communication based on honesty, respect and love. Children need to reconcile well with both parents, accept the past, forgive grievances, deal properly with respect on their differences of attitudes, characters and mentality.
- Resolve differences and move on for a more serene, productive and fulfilling life.
- Patiently bridge the gap and build stronger bonding with growing children, without reminding them all the past negativities. As blood is thicker than water, let no outsider break that new bond and reconciliation between growing children and estranged parents.
Embracing serenity amidst the years of turbulent struggles both enriched my talent, character and strong determination of my children. Everything that happened made them matured a lot at an early age. It made them wiser when dealing with other people.
With past conflicts now solved, like a water under the bridge, my children have walked together towards the bridge on harmony, unity and strong bond of love with their father despite our different country of residences.
Looking back, as a single parent with two daughters, we faced so many uncertainties with determination, flexibility, cheerfulness, tenacity, patience while launching our rockets of courageous adventure to make the best of each moment, grateful of our freedom, never losing hope, unity, love and spiritual faith we nurtured for whatever we had endured.
Thriving on Divorce © 2014 Ana Angelica Abaya van Doorn
AngelicaHopes.com All Rights Reserved February, 17, 2014
Note from the Author: This article has been written with purpose to inspire single parents, struggling divorcees, an awareness on those who are thinking of divorce/legal separation.
“Whatever happens to you in your life, have a patient, flexible, tenacious and serene heart for these will be the major sources of your strength in any tribulations. Take care.” ~ Angelica
Enjoy this video and essay about Heart of Patience: