Playing By Someone Else's Rules

Hijo del divorcio by Oscar Chavez
Hijo del divorcio by Oscar Chavez

A friend is going through a divorce, a legal process that is difficult itself, because you are separating from the one who you thought  you would love forever. This friend is overseas, far from loved ones, and this condition, you may say, is the expat gamble, the downside to the Friday bubbly brunches. Since they live overseas, the custody issues related to the divorce are to be decided overseas.

She has moved on from the relationship, created her own life, a circle of friends, busy with hobbies and not ghosts of the past. She is an excellent mother: doting on her five year old day and night, whether making breakfast or arranging for him to see friends (like us) that live in other parts of the city.

Yet mothering ability came into question last week in court. As common in Islamic practice, children of divorced parents stay with their mothers until they are 18. Unless, of course, the mother is deemed unfit. Or marries again.  Moving on with your life as a woman living in patriarchy can be done – but at the cost of raising your child.

In the courts here, she has to call two female witnesses, for every male he uses to bring to question her character, her choices in her private life, all details that have no bearing in the day to day of her role as a mother back in their home country, but here are fair game.

Divorce and custody battles are never easy. They are made much worse when both parties don’t play fair. Particularly if one side presses a bias embedded in the legal system.

 

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