India comes last in the list of countries and their divorce rate with a meagre one percent marriages ending up in divorce. While most couples don’t formally file for divorce and go for informal separation, a few who do take the legal route are completely unprepared as to how to go about things. Divorce cases go on for years in family courts as the courts see millions of cases piling up. Other than this, the major reason for women not filing for divorce and living in unhappy marriages is they are never encouraged to break their marriage.

SheThePeople.TV caught up with Mumbai-based divorce lawyer Vandana Shah. She has recently lent her expertise and knowledge to Usha Jadhav’s character in Netflix’s upcoming movie—Firebrand—produced by Priyanka Chopra and directed by national award-winning director Aruna Raje.

“Over the last few years, human relationships and institution of marriage has really evolved and is becoming a complex reality. Thus it becomes imperative that we all realise the change which is happening around us and take steps to address concerns and challenges at the right time to prevent a complete breakdown of marriage or a bitter divorce,” said Shah at the screening.

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Talking about the key things women should know before applying for divorce, Shah made some pertinent points:

Checklists

When a woman is taking on a man who is as powerful as a politician, she must have a checklist which includes her financial security. Since cases can take up anywhere between months to years and for your financials to even be implemented in the court, it can take anywhere between six months to nine months to even a year. “Courts are clogged with cases being filed in great numbers every day. There are 500-600 cases listed in Bombay Family Court where I work. So, it is very important to have some sort of financial security,” noted Shah.

Security

If there are children involved and you have to move to a different city, then get their school admissions done before filing for divorce. “People don’t think about the nitty-gritty of what one must ensure before filing for a divorce and making sure the education of your children is right at the top of the list.”

In case of a relocation

If a woman is working and requires transfer to a new city then she must speak to her employer so it happens smoothly. If you are moving to a new city, then women must visit that city and live there for a couple of days before taking the drastic step of moving to that city, permanently.

Hiring a Good Lawyer

It is very important to have a good lawyer for your case. “In India divorce is a life-changing event so a lawyer is someone who needs to empathize with you because at the end of the day the minute you put your life in somebody else’s hand, they can either make it or break it.”

Since women don’t think of their belongings as theirs only and many times have to let go of jewellery and property in the battle, it is basic to have those assets back to you before you even file out that divorce form otherwise it becomes very difficult once the court proceedings begin.

Building a circle of support

If the family does not side up with the woman, as families generally don’t, seek your friends for courage. Building a circle of support is essential so you don’t falter when the criticism starts to come in as it would because of the stigma that divorce holds in our society.

“Since women don’t think of their belongings as theirs only and many times have to let go of jewellery and property in the battle, it is basic to have those assets back to you before you even file out that divorce form otherwise it becomes very difficult once the court proceedings begin,” pointed Shah, adding that between the time period of you think of getting a divorce to the time you actually file for it, gather all the intimation you can about your husband.

Today, as women gain financial independence, they also have the choice of leaving their marriage if they do not find happiness in it. Gone are the days when all women had to depend on their partners, even if they weren’t happy with them. While divorce still holds a stigma, more cases, aside from the highly rich and popular class, have started to come up now more than ever.

More Stories by Poorvi Gupta

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