Arjun Rampal-Mehr Jesia split: Here's why planning your divorce saves you from heartache in long run

Updated: 28 June, 2018 12:40 IST | Anandita Paul | Mumbai

It's splitsville for Arjun Rampal and Mehr Jesia, but having sorted out the nitty-gritty of separation beforehand, the celeb couple managed to keep it amicable

Arjun Rampal and Mehr Jesia
Arjun Rampal-Mehr Jesia. Pic/AFP

Last week, former celebrity couple Arjun Rampal and Mehr Jesia broke a million hearts by releasing an official statement announcing their separation. Those in the know, however, claim that the declaration was a long time coming. Rumours about their separation first made headlines way back in 2011. When the decision to finally part ways was taken earlier this year, they spent several months working out the minutiae of the separation before filing for divorce in a court of law.

Hemali Bhatia
Hemali Bhatia

This is an example, experts believe, that many couples would do well to follow in order to minimise the hassles and turmoil that accompanies the legal end of relationships. Advocate Sachin Daga of Daga Legal points out that couples, in India and around the world, are waking up to the realisation that divorces can be amicable and that both partners do not necessarily have to end up as enemies post their separation. He says, "Many couples who were terrible together as marital partners can work quite well together as friends or even as co-parents." The key, Daga adds, lies in working through your divorce proceedings in a calm, rational manner that is uninfluenced by factors like vengeance or ego clashes.

Here are some factors to take into account when planning a divorce:

Vijay Nagaswami
Vijay Nagaswami

Use your time well

"A court of law usually requires couples to live separately for a year before the divorce is sought. Once the divorce papers are filed, the couple is recommended an additional six-month-cooling-off period to seek counselling. The rationale behind this is to ensure that the couple has enough time to think their decision and the next steps through," says Daga. In September 2017, a Supreme Court ruling declared that this period may be cut short on a case-to-case basis for couples filing a joint petition with mutual consent. Such couples can, instead, work on the technicalities of the divorce to arrive at a consensus. If necessary, advocate Hemali Bhatia recommends seeking the assistance of a mediator, whether external or court-appointed. Dr. Sagar Mundada, consultant psychiatrist at Health Springs, believes that if a couple decides to go ahead with the divorce at the end of six months, they must then spend time working out their finances and custodial agreements.

Sagar Mundada

Plan your finances

Finance is one of the prominent reasons why divorces head to court. "Many women give up their career and invest that time and effort in raising a family. A divorce often leaves them feeling vulnerable and insecure," says Daga. Following the decision to separate, they must focus on re-building their career, which can be a daunting proposition. Here, Daga recommends assessing how long it will take the partner in question to find their feet again, determining how much financial aid they will need to meet their basic requirements during this period, putting a figure to it and claiming this as compensation from the other partner. If the latter contests the amount, the court offers a provision to seek interim maintenance while the divorce proceedings are underway.

Couples must first take stock of their joint finances, including movable and immovable assets, and reach a consensus about how these will be split up. Once this agreement is reached, Bhatia recommends that it is documented and presented to the court to hasten the divorce proceedings. Daga advises arranging for a lump sum amount that you can invest, instead of monthly payments as the latter can lead to further conflict. Psychiatrist and author of the book, To D or Not To D: Working Towards an Amicable Divorce, Vijay Nagaswami emphasises on taking measures to improve your financial and emotional stability during this period. "Downsizing your lifestyle, reskilling yourself and moderating your expectations of your social environment are a good place to start," he says.

Sachin Daga
Sachin Daga

Consider your children

For the court, the wellbeing of the child is of utmost importance, says Bhatia. While, in the past, the care of a minor child was automatically assigned to the mother, today, the more capable partner is the choice. Parents may also seek joint custody of the child. Here, the expenses of the child are borne by both parents and all decisions regarding parenting are taken jointly.

Children are the worst hit by a divorce or separation, which makes timing your divorce wisely especially important, adds Dr. Mundada. "A very young child has not developed the emotional mechanism to understand conflict and will be quite traumatized by your decision. Teenagers, on the other hand, are already at a stage in their lives where they may not be close to their parents and crave independence. Divorce can have an adverse impact on the teenage mind, as it will consolidate all the negative beliefs the teenager already harbours about his/her parents. If possible, couples should plan their divorce when their children are between nine and 14 years of age, or after their teens," he recommends.

Anurag Kashyap and Kalki Koechlin

Don't rebound

Rebound relationships may seem like a natural recourse to the newly single, but Dr. Mundada asks that you spend at least six months to a year developing your own identity and independence before taking the plunge. "In addition to your career, spend ample time seeking activities to keep yourself engaged in your spare time. Develop new social circles and seek companionship in these arenas. Allow a relationship to happen to you instead of rushing into it. Understand that it is okay to be single and use this time to take up endeavours that you were formerly unable to, on account of familial pressures," he says, adding that many of his patients have found love on matrimonial sites.

Anurag Kashyap and Kalki Koechlin

Ranvir Shorey and Konkana Sensharma
Anurag Kashyap and Kalki Koechlin, and Ranvir Shorey and Konkona Sensharma have continued to remain good friends after the divorce

What not to do
* Don't lie to your children. Communicate your decision to separate in the presence of your spouse, so you do not end up inadvertently pegging the blame on him/her
* Don't use your children as pawns to get your way
* Don't use divorce as a crutch. While mourning the end of a relationship is natural, it should not serve as an inhibitor in other areas of life
* Spend enough time analysing where you and your partner went wrong, especially so you don't make the same mistakes in your next relationship
* If you have common friends, don't make them choose between you and your spouse

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First Published: 04 June, 2018 07:30 IST

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