At first, both Sandra and I had remained in the Church. I reasoned that if I filed for divorce for any other grounds other than two year separation with consent, it would impact the children and the only thing I wanted to do was protect the children. For example, if at the point of separation, I filed for unreasonable behaviour, the church would have to take disciplinary action of some sort against Sandra which could result in the children being uprooted from the stability they had.
Around this time the church brought out a new policy about Marriage Separation because senior leaders were concerned at how many marriage break-ups were occurring between ministers. With no official ruling, many separated ministers were remaining in a state of limbo, neither appearing to be moving towards reconciliation or divorce. I was called for an interview to discuss this new policy and the interviewer was rather surprised at the positive way in which I interpreted the regulation. I stated that it gave me some encouragement because the church was officially recognizing that ministers marriages can break down rather than sweeping the issue under the carpet. This policy stated that if a separated minister hadn’t either reconciled or divorced in two years, then they would be relinquished of their ministerial duties.
I then told the interviewer that I would file for divorce on grounds of two years separation with consent with that time period was due. They seemed relieved that this was the course I’d decided on. I have no idea whether they also interviewed Sandra or indeed if so, what her response was.
A few months later, my indiscretion came to light. I resigned as a minister. The church’s senior leaders decided to revoke my church membership. This meant I no longer had or felt any loyalty to the church.
I was homeless, jobless, had no income and I had no idea where my life would now go. As far as I was now concerned, anything I said to the church about my future intentions regarding Divorce was now invalid. Keeping or breaking their regulation was of no consequence to me now. If Sandra wanted a Divorce to keep her church leaders happy, then she could file the petition. It made no difference to me. I was working and yet had no money left by the time I paid out all my commitments. If Sandra wanted a Divorce, then as far as I was concerned she could take the necessary steps to get one.
I found another job and started work. Whilst in work, the two year period came and went. Sandra had made no effect to petition for Divorce. By the policies the church were so keen to enforce (when it suited them!), they should have dismissed Sandra.
I then received the caution from the Police, and disclosure of this to my employers led to my dismissal. I was now without work and any income. For closure, I also wanted some form of acknowledgement from Sandra, accepting the abuse she inflicted on me.
I was now eligible for Legal Aid, and so I saw a Solicitor and decided to file for divorce on grounds of Unreasonable Behaviour. This way, I felt, I would get some form of admission from Sandra about her crimes against me.
I listed numerous instances of Unreasonable Behaviour and the petition was filed. Sandra was given fourteen days to respond. Interestingly, she didn’t deny the unreasonable behaviour. However, her Solicitor advised that they should counter-petition on grounds of my unreasonable behaviour!
My Solicitor felt that this was a bluff, but because I was using Legal Aid to pay for the costs, the divorce proceedings had to be carried out in the most economic manner. I could contest their counter-petition but not on Legal Aid. As I had no money available to do this, the Solicitor’s advice was to change my petition to two years separation with consent.
I later discovered that my unreasonable behaviour was kicking Sandra in my sleep! Hardly possible, since most nights I ended up either sleeping on the floor or curled up in the fetal position as far to the edge of the bed as possible. Kicking her would have been a physical impossibility!