Life on trial
Finally, its judgement day!! My mind is serene. It raced back to an evening 6 years ago.
I could see a shadow of me waiting outside the Court mediation center, confused and flustered. My almost 4 year old was chatting cheerfully with her Dad and her paternal family. Everyone appeared pleased, but me. The talks commenced and I experienced brain freeze for the first time. A lot of things were discussed, but the only thing that mattered to me was my child, getting out of the devastating relationship with my kid unharmed.
Truce was declared and I felt peaceful and surprisingly happy after legally calling off the relationship. The divorce agreement was signed and sealed and decree handed over. The real trouble started shortly after that.
Legal notices started flowing into my office, and I was summoned to the court at my home-town. I fought for each one earnestly, until it became clear that cases were never going to stop!! A few of the proceedings mandated the presence of the child and I had to drag my little girl through those bleak corridors. Life continued like this for 4 long years. And then I received my wake-up call. One fine day, my child approached the school counselor and poured her heart out. It was loud and clear that she didn’t want to be a part of the nasty play.
It was time for me to call the game off. We both stood tall and strong and started moving legally. We led the match for 2 years, reaching for the glow at the end of the deep, drab, grim tunnel.
I am blissful, content and a lot wiser than how I was when I had first set out for the journey. I used to feel that I was a nitwit to agree upon one sided agreements during mediation. But I was just repeating a few common mistakes. Like abusers follow a pattern, victims behave a certain way too.
I am jolting down a few pointers here, hoping that someday, somewhere, someone would benefit from these.
- I approached the whole divorce process emotionally. Legal procedures are like business. I had to let my brain rule over my heart. Lesson learned.
- RCR or Restitution of Conjugal Rights is generally filed to show compromise and get the family back. My ex walked over both of us when my girl was 6 months. When he filed an RCR after 3 years and earnestly professed his love for us, I believed it!! The second tenure saw a steep upward slope in the degree of physical and mental torture I had to endure. Moral of the story – You can’t afford to be vain. People lie very professionally at the court, and we have to learn to take it in the right sense. Proceedings reach the court when the petitioner needs a permanent closure for the matter, rarely for rapprochement.
- We, my child and I, were both victims of domestic violence. But I have a bold exterior, and was not ready to admit ‘it’. This created a very negative impression on the mediator. Appearing very polite and submissive during the negotiation helps.
- Every parent wants their child to live with his/her spouse, especially if the marriage had been facilitated by them. My parents were no different. I did not have the moral backing which I needed, and was always asked to reconsider my decision. A lateral support-system outside the family is much needed while going through the separation/divorce phase. Support groups of like minded people helps here immensely. The Phoenix family gave me the much needed morale boost when I decided to fight the second time.
- The divorce mediation happened within 3 months of my separation. I was emotionally battered up and had done very little ground-work to know our rights. Hurrying through a divorce does more harm than good. This was awesome advice given by one of our Phoenix family community members – ‘Once we have decided to end the relationship mentally, everything ends for us. The legal separation is only paper work. We should be ready to let it take it’s own sweet time’. Reaching out to people who had been through similar situations and being very open in support groups can be of immense help.
- Children deserve to be with both the parents, and that is how the legal system sees it, however evil or detached the other person is. Unless there is solid proof, there is no use claiming that the child won’t be safe with the other parent. I made that big mistake, and I was cornered as an evil woman trying to deny paternal love to the little child. Alternatively, give an impression that even though you are not sure of the child’s safety you are ready for visitation. This will help while negotiating visitation arrangements.
- My pride could not tolerate me taking child support or alimony. This placed me in a vulnerable position where I didn’t have anything to pawn on. Money changes equations. Moreover, we don’t have the right to deny our children the financial support they are entitled to have from the other parent. It’s rather our duty to make sure the kids get what is promised by the law of the land.
I hope this read will provide some assurance to the survivors going through or gearing up for a legal battle.
Sometimes being strong would be the only option left with us. During those times, toughen up, and allow it to make us to the diamonds we are destined to be.
This article is based on the experience of an individual and should not be misconstrued as legal advice. If you find yourself in a similar situation, please consult a lawyer.