Deciding To Divorce Takes Time

Sometimes I read headlines or comments that “divorce is too easy,” usually accompanied with some suggestion for a mandatory waiting period before the legal process can be started or a training class so that couples can be fully aware of the consequences of divorce. 

In all the interviews I’ve conducted, no one has suggested that divorce is easy. While my sample may not be scientifically valid, it does supports that there are many different paths leading to the end of a marriage and even though the decision to divorce may appear to have been made quickly, there are often times long periods, even years of consideration leading up to the decision. 

Today, I’d like to introduce you to my next guest, RMJ who blogs at Remembering My Journey. RMJ and her ex are both from Nigeria, met at school in U.S. and then went to live in another African country. They were married for nine years before they separated and her ex moved back to Nigeria. After four years of separation they divorced in February 2012. They have two children who are now fourteen and six. I asked RMJ if such a long period of separation was typical in her country. Here’s RMJ:

We had been married for just over nine years, and somehow for whatever reason I had this number two in my head. I just needed two years apart to think.

When I made this declaration I did not know for sure I was going to get a divorce.  I had to make a decision about it, but I needed two years just to detox, just to think clearly without any distractions.

Deciding to Divorce Takes Time
Deciding to Divorce Takes Time

I was really trying to make sense of what had happened and after those two years it just became clear that the marriage was not going to make it.

It probably took another year before I decided where I was going to file. It was a difficult situation because we got married in the U.S, we moved to an African country and it’s not the country we’re actually from. So the issue was “so where do we file?”

We talked about filing where we got married, but then since I didn’t live there anymore when we’d have to appear in Court it would be really hard to jump on a train and come over to the U.S.

I could also have filed in the country where I live, but the divorce courts are so full that the lawyer told me it would take another year before my case could be heard.

So I started speaking to lawyers in the country that I’m from and I found out it was possible to file there, I did and I got divorced in six months.

I think the perception that divorce is too easy can come from looking solely at the legal process. My own divorce happened quickly – we filed in January and by May we were divorced. But that doesn’t reflect the months of endless discussions that lead up to the decision – it’s merely the time it took to resolve the legal issues.

Some couples, like RMJ do find a period of separation helpful – it creates a change in dynamics that often brings clarity about the relationship. I guess the important message is to take the time you need to make your decision. Not knowing where your marriage is headed is unsettling but it’s a decision that shouldn’t be rushed. When you’re ready, you’ll know.

Deciding where to file is also a decision that many couples face here in the States and if you do have options as to where to file, such as living on one state and working in another or if you’ve separated and moved to another state, then it’s worth researching the divorce laws in the specific states. Services like Total Divorce (1-877-248-2303) provide a free initial consultation and that’s a great way to start checking out your options.

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