• Rita Györfi

Divorces in Luxembourg and how it may feel

This article reflects the internal feelings and agony of some of my clients and friends I have worked with during my advisory. Every marriage (and separation) is unique with its own challenges. The article in no way suggests that everyone feels the same about separation and divorce or that one should stay in an abusive or unhappy relationship.

The article intends to highlight the emotional and financial vulnerability of some single parents and expresses compassion towards them.

Looking at below table about the number of divorces and marriages in Luxembourg, it is difficult not to notice that the number of divorces over 100 marriages in a given year has increased about one and a half times between the year 2000 and 2020, reaching 80 divorces for 100 marriages last year. Considered absolute or in comparison, it is a high number anyway.

But it is not all about the numbers.

Would it be better if 0 divorces were reported but all the 100 marriages were unhappy?

The goal is clearly to have more of HAPPY marriages.

It has become POSSIBLE to divorce since the society has been more liberal, ie. approving and if both members of a couple work, then it makes it financially feasible too, including the social security system currently in place in Luxembourg.

Living a more joyful and peaceful life after the divorce can be promising.

However, there are many negative aspects of divorcing that one can only sense much later than just a few months down the divorcing procedure. Although divorcing is a real OPTION now, it is not always so straightforward what is waiting for the ex-spouses-to-be after all paperwork is finalized.

One of the very first ‘tangible’ expenses are the divorcing costs such as lawyers and court. Others show up somewhat later as time goes by. Your standard of living will drop and not just a bit given the current housing prices in Luxembourg. Divorces might even add just another factor to drive up the housing prices, by default, since one household becomes two and so the demand increases for new homes.

There will be ‘double paying’ for most of your expenses, including overheads, holidays and that of clothing, toys, and bedroom equipment for your children if the couple agrees on alternating custody.

You are going to lose your current tax class, even if this only happens three years after the divorce is finalized. There will be an impact on your career potential since you are now a single parent and your new lifestyle will require – if this wasn’t the case before, a work-life balance to be put in place. Reducing your working hours from full-time to part-time neither supports the achievement of your professional goals, nor it contributes positively to your wallet.

There are however not just financial implications. There is a social aspect too.

You are splitting up the family which creates a (hopefully temporary) instability for the entire family including children who, let us be honest, have unfortunately nothing to say in these decisions.

Your social status did change and your habits and schedules of going out and whom you hang out with as well as your weekend programs will slowly but surely shift. You risk losing or significantly reducing your social contacts with some of your un-divorced family friends. Your best friends are likely to stick with you and give a helping hand. Others are not. Some of these turnarounds you can influence, some you can’t.

At school, your children will be of divorced parents. Every new encounter you will make, meeting the new teachers and other parents or making new friends, you will have to ‘confess’ that yep – heads up –, you are divorced. Unless regulated differently, your legal status ‘divorced’ is going to stay for a lifetime, and unless you decide to re-marry. In every official file – if required, you will have to fill in ‘divorced’ even if you have been long considering yourself as newly ‘single’. Banks will consider you as a client without a guarantor (which used to be your ex-spouse). Single parents belong to those most prone to poverty. Being divorced may be accompanied by an overwhelming feeling of failure, even if this is neither suggested by your close relatives, nor by anyone else. You will only see them sad.

You will have to cooperate with the other parent for a very long time, until your children reach adult age. This might turn out a struggle in some cases. Both of you will evolve over time and maybe into different directions. As you no longer live or socialize together, there is a chance that your ex-spouse will become a half-stranger to you, despite with whom you must take significant decisions about the kids’ life together.

And the most painful part of it is that you are really divorced. It is not just a nightmare from which you can wake up one day and all is fine. Even if society approves the divorce itself, your power of representing the interest of your family reduces. You split your couple, so did you your mutual forces. It comes along with a feeling of shame that is probably the fastest to leave you. Then other feelings may flood your heart like that of guilt and an immense sorrow. You are grieving the family that you lost. You will then be trying to build something new instead, with hopefully some success. Your kids may reproach you that even if there were fights in the family, they still preferred the fights instead of living in a broken family. They have the right to speak up, especially as they had no say or vote in the decision. And you will have to listen while they repeat this message a couple of more times than you would wish. Each time a little piece of your heart dies over it. There is no point in arguing with them since this is how they feel and so it needs to be acknowledged. No rational argument of the mind could convince their heart anyway.

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