When she started her divorce journey, Rushka Lee Pedro had no idea that it would take seven years to come to an end.
"I am very grateful for my past marriage... Without it, I wouldn't be in the position I am in today," she told Parent24.
Rushka is now an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) practitioner who now uses her experience to help others through her Family Law Mediation Practice, Minor Impact.
At just 19, Rushka had met and married her first husband, but like the 40% of South African marriages that end in divorce, the mom of two found herself separated, and deadlocked in a maintenance battle.
'I was in a coma for about two weeks'
"I had seven years of back and forth to Family Court, Office of the Family Advocate, and police stations. It was a living nightmare."
A nightmare that had only just begun.
In 2016, Rushka and her daughters were involved in a near-fatal car accident, leaving the (then) single mom badly injured.
'I was in a coma for about two weeks... My first memory was waking up and pulling clumps of hair and small pieces of glass out of my head, thinking; this is an awful dream!"
Thankful that her children were not severely injured, Rushka says the recovery process was not easy.
"My vision was completely off due to the damage I sustained in my left eye. I couldn't walk properly and relied on a walking stick. I couldn't turn around too fast, or I would fall down."
Yet despite the major health setback, her maintenance battle continued.
Parent24's #dignifieddivorce series is here to help parents navigate the legal and emotional implications of a divorce.
"Nine months after I woke up from my coma, I found myself back in court; putting on a brave face and ready!"
From missing out on work to postponements at court and trying to make extra money to survive, Rushka describes the divorce process as "a high pressured situation" made that much worse when children are involved.
"To see your children go through it is absolutely heart-breaking. I felt beyond defeated," Rushka told us.
But her trials would eventually reach its conclusion, and Rushka says, if anything, her experiences have given her purpose in helping others get through their tough times.
Her best advice:
"You owe it to yourself and your children to be happy. If what you're doing no longer serves you; have the courage to let it go. Don't be afraid to ask for help. It takes a village to raise a child – you're never as alone as you think you are. But most of all, trust your gut, it would never take you down the wrong path."
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Finding love again
Her own pathway finally cleared, Rushka says love had been the last thing on her mind when she met her second husband.
"I am a hopeless romantic, and I love Love, and in this case, Love found me! I am proud to say that I am now married to the man of my dreams, and we are literally living my 'happy ever after'".
When we asked her what advice she would give to single parents who are trying to find love again, Rushka says the secret is time.
"Give yourself time to heal. When you are in the right space, your right partner will find you!"
*Rushka Lee Pedro specialises in divorces, child maintenance, parenting plans, and domestic violence and regularly contributes her expert advice on Parent24.
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