We don’t plan for separation or divorce when we are getting married. It’s the furthest thing from our minds. Otherwise why get married, unless you have other ulterior motives with the person you are getting married to?.  

However, if you
find yourself having to go through an unwanted separation or divorce, or find
yourself forced into separation, its best to actually prepare for what lies
ahead of you, for it can be a long complex road when you are unprepared.   With some preparation, you can cut down on
the stress and uncertainty during and after your separation.

Making the decision to separate or divorce

This is a major step and an extremely difficult one
to make.

First and foremost, unless you didn’t have a choice
as to whether to separate or not, making this decision, is an extremely
emotional one and has to be thought through very seriously, as it is a life-changing
one.  Ask yourself is it truly the end of
your marriage? Did you do everything that you possibly could to make the
marriage work? What are the reasons as to why you want to get a separation and
have you tried all you can to work on the problems in the past? It’s important
to make sure before you make this decision, to have tried everything possible
to salvage the marriage together with your spouse.

If you have children more the reason to try all you
can to save your marriage. It isn’t a decision to be made lightly. Have you
tried couples counselling? Talked to your pastor about your problems as you see
them? Be willing to work at your marriage before walking away.

And if you have you fallen ‘out of love’ with your husband and  ‘in love with somebody else’ that’s not a good enough reason to throw your marriage away.

Unless you are suffering abuse, serial infidelity or in a polygamous marriage, the commitment you made to your spouse and marriage should be the most important thing in your life and the hardest one you need to work to maintain. Especially when there are children involved.

The following are the important documents:

Once
you have made the decision to separate, you need to start collecting document
that will be needed in the separation and divorce process. The following is a
list of all the documents you will need:

Personal details

  • Full addresses, phone
    numbers, and identity card numbers of you and your spouses.
  • Full names, birth dates,
    identity numbers, birth certificates and addresses of all children of the
    marriage, and their schools and classes.
  • The date and county of
    the marriage.
  • Information about any
    prior marriage of either spouse, including a certified copy of the divorce
    decree.
  • Information about any
    previous legal proceedings between the spouses or involving any of the children
    (e.g. restraining orders, domestic violence orders).
  • Dates and particulars
    about any previous separations attempts at reconciliation, or marriage counselling.

 Financial Information

  • Your
    income tax return details and anything else from KRA
  • Any information about your current income, copies of payslips,
    financial records for any businesses you or your spouse own.
  • Bank
    and credit card details and account numbers – joint or individual including
    savings accounts
  • Investment
    account numbers or all investments you may have between you
  • Loan
    account numbers and were borrowed from
  • A list of substantial assets and liabilities of both spouses

Get Organized

Get a notebook and make
note of bank account numbers
. This
is an area where many women tend to fall short, Time to take an interest in the
finances. This way you will have an easier time accessing Make sure you will
have an easier time accessing all the information you need, if and when you
need it.

You are going to need
your own money for a lawyer
.

If after working to try and save the marriage, you decide divorce is the way to go, you will need to decide whether or not to hire a lawyer. Most separations and divorces are complicated because of the need to main issues like child support, property division and alimony (spousal support). For those reasons, anyone with the financial means should hire a lawyer so that you can be assured that yours and your children’s legal rights are protected.

To
hire a lawyer in Kenya its anywhere between 50,000kshs to 150,000kshs ($500 – 1,500). You will need additional
money to be able to maintain your self and your children for a while if you are
dependant on your spouse is often the case, your finances are cut off quite
abruptly.

(see
the article ‘The Effects of Separation
and Divorce on a Woman’s Finances’).

If
there is any way to start a separate contingencies account or savings, now is
the time to do it. 

Make
a ‘to-do list’. You have to stay on top of things. This means
being quite organized. Write down all the items you have to accomplish and tick
them off as you go along.

Prepare a Separation /Divorce Folder.

There
is so much paperwork involved and that is needed. Do not rely on getting
information from your lawyer. Start your own folder and photocopy everything
that you have to give your lawyer. File your papers in chronological order.to
save confusion. It also helps to make an index.

Start to cut back your expenses.

If
you have debt in your name, like credit cards, car loan or housing loan etc.
you will want to pay as much of those debts as possible before your separation.
When you separate, there often isn’t enough money to pay the debts leave alone
the bills. 

You
may even have to sell your car if you have got one –and by a smaller one, or
maybe sell the furniture that you rarely use etc.

The Separation Agreement

It is of uttermost importance for you to draw up a Separation
Agreement once you and your spouse have separated. Especially if you’d like
your case to be recognized in court. This is done through a lawyer. The legal
agreement covers issues such as child support; custody; visitations and who
pays what and when. 

This legal document helps protect you and your children between
the time you separate and when the divorce becomes final.

Please note that the separation agreement can and most of the time
does influence the final divorce settlement agreement. In other words, do not
agree to anything in the separation agreement unless you feel you can live with
it once the separation and divorce are divorce is final.

If you and your husband end up in court, a judge is likely to use
your separation agreement as a guideline when making their decision about your
final agreement. SO make sure that your separation agreement is as close as
possible to what you hope to walk away with once the divorce is final.

Dividing Marital Property

Land issues are huge in Africa. Did you have land together as a family? Did you see the title deed? Does it have both your names?  Land issues tend t present hidden issues when one of you does not want the other to have any shares. Ensure that you have the required documents that qualify you to have the property as stated by Kenyan law regarding marital property.  

 Are Once you’ve handed over your proof of title need with both your names in it, shared income, proof of debt and proof of all that you owned and acquired during the marriage, the process of dividing the property begins. The property is classified as either marital or non-marital property. Kenya law requires the property to be divided equitably. What’s taken into consideration is whether the property was obtained before the marriage or during the marriage.

Divorce Court

You will only end up in divorce court if your spouse refuses to
negotiate or be flexible and come to an agreement.  What keeps many couples going through
separation and divorce going repeatedly to court, is often because one of you
wants to get ‘revenge‘ on the other.

Its best for everyone involved especially the children to keep
acrimony out of your court proceeding s because the children become very
affected.

Try and get through this part of the process rationally to protect
yourself and the children.

Moving On After Your Divorce.

Regardless of where you are right now, at some stage after the
process is over, you will have to move o with your life. Many women get caught
up in harbouring anger and slide into serious depression. How you handle any
conflict and anger, you felt before, during and after your divorce plays a huge
role in the kind of life you will live after your divorce is final.

You will eventually need to out the separation or divorce behind
you and move onto your new life.     

The issues you will face as a single person are: learning to be an unmarried single, budgeting, possibly returning to the job world or running your own business or healing through the pain of an unwanted divorce.

Whatever issues come up during separation and divorce moving on
and putting it all behind you depends on your attitude and how much work you
are willing to do when it comes to rebuilding your life.

Books that will help you as you move through the separation and
divorce process.

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