Marriage for many people is a nice thing, a good step in life. In Rwanda, when someone decides to be engaged and get married never wishes to be separated from his/ her spouse but it happens that a couple could be divorced.
Divorce can be an extremely devastating experience, both emotionally and financially.
In Rwanda, in most marriages, couples combine their debts and their assets by subscribing to the community of property regime. One of the challenges in divorcing is determining the share of those debts and assets.
Some people shared their experiences with KT Press and said how divorce affected their financial stability.
In divorce, spouses will be forced to make and accept decisions that have a major impact on their current and future financial situation and security.
Yves Muberuka, a divorced man, and father of four from Rwamagana District said that in a marriage breakdown, one of the decisions people have to make is how they would divide up properties they own.
“In a divorce, it is really difficult to agree upon who will be responsible for any debt the couple has incurred during their marriage. It makes many cases very complicated; it is due to the judge’s appreciation that one of the spouses will be paying the debt for the rest of his or her life,” he said.
“For us, we had four children. Imagine having children under my responsibility as well as all our debts, assuming that the other party is incapable or irresponsible, they gave me a good part of our properties but still, it is a burden.”
Jane Mutesi a divorced woman, and a mother of two from Kicukiro District told KT Press that there are several factors that work together to destabilize one’s finances during and after the divorce process including court fees.
“As many of you may already know, going through a divorce is not free. The costs of divorce include court fees, legal fees, counselor payments, and living expenses if one of the partners moved out. These are just the expenses before a divorce is finalized. All these costs destabilize one’s finance and seem to be a heavy burden,” she said.
“I particularly felt sad and was very depressed. I was not able to take care of myself and work as usual. I have two sons but it was very hard to take care of them as well. It is very sad to say but the so-called property we shared never helped me because I became alchohol addict as a consequence of depression for almost two years. I am a poor lady now,” she said.
She also added that she is now recovering and putting herself together to keep on living, and thanking the people who helped her through that difficult situation.
Mutesi would wish to have her husband back.
“Of course coming back together would be nice but it is almost impossible because my thoughts are not his,” she said addinf that she would accept if her ex proposed.
A married man who is in divorcce process and preferred that his name remain anonymous said that a divorcing couple who own a business together can be in a particularly difficult situation and might choose to sell the business, one partner buying out the other, or they may strive to continue their business partnership.
“It is very tough and almost impossible to keep working with your ex-partner. When you have a business together it will surely fail. For us, we have a business together but the solution will be to sell it and split the money, which will affect our economy and our whole life in general. Life will never be the same as we used to work together. Maybe we will try to advance and keep on living but for now, it is really bad in many aspects of our life,” He told KT Press.
“Debts incurred during the marriage will also need to be separated. If one person acquired a student loan during this time, both parties could be liable for it. Besides the assets and incomes that once supported one household will now need to support two,”
Thus the male partner said, that he would wich to rehabilitate his mariage, but his partner does not want to even meet him.
“I wish we could stop this and come back together to run our family as well as our business but she is the one who asked for a divorce. I have accepted because I couldn’t force someone to stay and live with me. When I first heard my wife wanted a divorce, I prayed hard that she would change her decision but it didn’t happen. No one is perfect but I do still love her,” he said.
Therese Mukamugenzi, a married woman from Rwamagana District said that the economy of the family changes for the worse after a divorce, particularly for mothers.
“You see, men’s incomes are much higher than women’s. And in most cases, women are unemployed due to many factors including taking care of kids. I think that after divorcing women face many economic challenges as they used to financially depend on men. I heard many stories when mothers end up being poor and remain struggling to raise their kids while men keep on living or even remarry. It is difficult for both partners but mostly for mothers,” she said.
Nadine Manzi a child whose parents divorced shared her sad experience.
“Before my parents divorced, we were stable, rich. My Dad used to work in the education sector and my Mum was a high school teacher. When they divorced, they decided that we will be raised by our Mum. She failed to work; she sold the house that the court conclude will be ours. Feeding us was a problem, leave alone paying our school fees,” she said.
“We became very poor and depressed. I see divorce as a major cause of our suffering and poverty. And, I always blame my parents who failed to resolve their problems as adults, and make their children live a miserable life,” she sadly narrated.
She firther said: ““I wish my parents would have stayed together but now it is too late to change anything.”
Jean de la Croix Rwema a psychologist from Kacyiru Hospital told KT Press that staying together is better than divorcing in so many ways including for the well-being of themselves and the children but there maybe some many factors that may cause the divorce.
People are advised to be patient and communicate their problems, looking for other solutions that may work differently than divorce.
“We never advise people to take divorce as the first solution but no one should risk their lives. Divorce is a complex matter because it is more personal. Someone can ask for divorce because he/she is no longer in love with their partners, and it is difficult to find a solution for that. We help people but there are some cases where we cannot do anything,” he said.
Many of our sources say that in most cases men are the ones who file for divorce but this is still debatable.
In Rwanda, reports indicate that in 2018, nationwide divorce cases filed in court increased by 1900% from 69 in 2017 to 1311 in 2018, the former Chief Justice, Prof. Sam Rugege once revealed.
Divorce is on the rise in Rwanda and at an unprecedented pace but people should be prepared for its financial consequences before choosing it as the last solution to their problems.