Kindly note that this article is about the way in which women who have been forced into separation or divorce, via desertion, adultery, abandonment, maybe been one of the serial wives or were in a polygamous marriage or have had to leave their spouse due to abuse.

This is not to say that there aren’t men who have been through separation and divorce, brought on by their former wives via similar circumstances as above. But for the sake of this article, the focus is on how marital separation under the above circumstances affects women’s finances and lifestyle drastically.

Am also aware that there are men – albeit few, separated or divorced from their spouses, who are responsible for providing financial support for their children and former wives.

Without a doubt, if you are a woman with children, school-age or not, separated, or looking to separate or divorce, you are most probably facing a drain on your financial resources with very little fast recovery in sight.

From the moment couples become ‘separated’, finances become a huge issue, starting with the legal cost of going through separation or divorce in the courts. Not surprisingly, it’s the woman who becomes affected the most by this separation, because you are coming from a marital relationship where there was shared financial responsibility, and in most families, the husband who made more money in the home, and so had the financial responsibility of the family. This was while you looked after the home and the family, and like most women I know, juggling a very small part-time small business so that you can bring a bit of money to the table.

So now, you are on your own, being mummy and daddy to your children, trying to pay the bills, maintain a house that’s falling apart or looking for a much cheaper place if you were renting, money going out faster than it can come in, moving the children out of their former school, or changing them to a cheaper school or home-schooling, as you try to ward off the financial waves of staying above the water. The juggling of finances seems endless and many women find themselves leaving a hand to mouth existence bordering on the line of poverty. A very common story in Kenya.

What separation and divorce do to a woman is generally worse than what it does to men. Especially since more often than not, the marital separations are unexpected and initiated by men, most who hold the purse strings, leaving their former wives to flow along with the rejection or abandonment, without any financial support. There are also those women who are forced to flee from their home due to abuse and leave without a cent to their name.  I have met women who have had to go onto the street with children.

For women without any paid work and with the full custody of their children, it is often a low-income existence, with approximately one in five women becoming impoverished as a result of the separation or divorce.

The main reason women suffer the brunt of separation and divorce’s financial burdens is that, during the marriage, women are more likely to than men to have stopped working in order to become homemakers, caring for the children and her husband. This includes leaving and trusting the husband to manage the family finances. This means most wives have little knowledge about what’s going on with the family finances.

Not surprisingly, after separation and divorce, most men don’t stop their money-generating activities or professional work-life, whereas women have to think about how to get back into the market place,  that has moved on in terms of work skills.

Though separation and divorce often leave women struggling financially, most women, with hindsight

prefer to stay separated and struggle because of the oppressive environment the marriage had presented.

So, how can women who find themselves in this season do to help themselves? To move forward, women need to look for the opportunities that life has presented. Go back to the drawing board. Become intentional about how you’re going to build up your finances. It’s time to rebuild your finances. Take stock of your job skills. Maybe there was a business you always wanted to run. Research it. Find out what you enjoy doing and loved to do…It’s a new blank page. Now is the time to change the status quo. Rewrite how you’re going to make a living with your God-given gifts and talents. That has got to be very exciting. There is always a way and HOPE.

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