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Thursday, July 18, 2024

The aftermath of divorce…..

Story by Yolanda Moyo

THE need for robust community support systems has been highlighted as key in helping individuals heal, rebuild, and thrive in the aftermath of divorce.

Selulekile Sibanda (32), is a single mother of two after getting a divorce a few years ago.

After going through the worst, she is now recounting the initial shock of her separation.

“Suddenly, the support system I thought I had, my ex-husband’s family, our shared friends my family felt fractured. I didn’t know where to turn. It was difficult for me to navigate through the whole process and taking care of the children was difficult as well as adjusting financially, she narrated.

Sibanda’s testimony is confirmation that while the reasons for divorce are complex, the emotional roller coaster is unbearable hence calls to strengthen the social fabric in terms of community support.

“Traditionally, communities have centered their support systems around the nuclear family. However, in the face of rising divorce rates, a broader definition of family is crucial,” said church leader, Archbishop Alex Thomas.

Another church leader, Bishop Rocky Moyo said, “Community centres and religious institutions can also play a vital role by offering activities and events specifically geared towards divorced individuals and their families. This could include social gatherings for adults, co-parenting workshops.”

Child care specialist, Mr Thandazani Ndlovu spoke on the challenges children face during a divorce.

“Children are often the most vulnerable during a divorce. They often struggle to adjust to the changing family dynamic. In this vulnerable time, strong community support systems can be a lifeline for many children so that they have a normal life and not feel the gap that is there,” he explained.

On the traditional front, Chief Siansale highlighted the importance of family in the African set-up.

“As Africans, we relied on our families to be the backbone when things fell apart. The statistics that we are getting are not even a true reflection of the divorce cases, these are just civil cases. What about the non-registered marriages? The impact of a strong community support system after a divorce extends far beyond the immediate needs of the individuals involved,” he weighed in.

Renowned family lawyer, Mrs Nikiwe Ncube -Tshabalala stressed the need for a relook into divorce proceedings at the courts.

“Mandatory counselling sessions would provide a neutral space for couples to discuss their separation, address underlying issues that contributed to the breakdown of the marriage, and develop a parenting plan if children are involved. Our justice system needs to incorporate what other nations are doing, like South Africa for example, has counselling within the court before the divorce proceedings start,” she said.

By strengthening community-based resources and fostering a culture of compassion, the general agreement is that communities can ensure that those navigating divorce have the tools they need to rebuild their lives and create a brighter future for themselves and their families.

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