My divorce. Aoife: ‘I’ve never been so happy’

Upheaval: “Divorce is a massive emotional trauma, and I wouldn’t recommend it in any way,” says Aoife. Illustration: SX70/Getty

Upheaval: “Divorce is a massive emotional trauma, and I wouldn’t recommend it in any way,” says Aoife. Illustration: SX70/Getty

 

It’s 20 years since Ireland voted for divorce. An Irish Times series, Divorced Ireland, explores the effects of that vote on Irish life, then and since. To read the full series click here

Aoife, as she has asked to be called, is in her 40s, divorced and remarried. She was forced to sell property to fund a separation that cost €17,000 and, she says, to “pay off” her ex-husband.

“I’ve never been so happy as since my divorce. I’ve met the right person now, but that doesn’t happen for everybody. I spent €17,000 on the legal separation, but my divorce cost €500, which was to an agency that did the paperwork.

“I represented myself in court for the divorce itself. I was able to do this because my ex-husband had disappeared, and, while he was kept in the loop with the relevant papers, he never turned up in court.

“I think women do better after divorce than men. They are more self-sufficient. Men don’t seem to fare as well emotionally. Their relationship with their children is harder to maintain, since mothers are usually granted custody. Men can be frozen out from their social circles. My new partner was ostracised by his social circle after his divorce.

“Divorce is a massive emotional trauma, and I wouldn’t recommend it in any way. The family law courts are humiliating, dreadful. It’s a bullring. You sit on a bench and wait for your call with your ex-partner glaring at you.

“All this dealing goes on in the full hearing of strangers – like cattle dealing. My ex paid me not a penny, but I have flourished way better than he has.

“My first marriage was in my early 20s, and then I found out he had been living a double life with another woman. He has since left the country.

“I was awarded sole custody of our children, but because I owned inherited land I had to sell several acres to pay him off in a lump sum. He has since become distant from our child and doesn’t turn up for his scheduled visits.

“The courts are not a friendly place, and making a rational decision there is really hard. The crowded corridors where family lawyers consult with clients, being overheard, add to the pressure. You see people who used to be so friendly killing each other . . . And this goes on for four years – it’s too long. A requirement of two years’ separation would be enough.

“I am glad that I divorced. The old-fashioned Irish habit is of sticking it out through thick and thin. I know quite a lot of people who are living separate lives under the same roof, for financial reasons as well as for the children.

“Living a life of unhappiness is living a lie. My advice? Get out while you still have a chance to find happiness. Bite the bullet. Life is too short. If you make a clean break you can move on with your life.”

 

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