In This Article
- Divorce Laws in India – Introduction
- Grounds For Divorce
- Legal Process and Prerequisites
- Recent Updates or Amendments In 2023
Divorce Laws in India – Introduction
Most of us are familiar with the word, ‘Divorce’. It can be termed as a legal process to officially terminate the marriage. The law decree will be finally awarded by the court of law, after which the husband and wife and considered legally separated.
Divorce in India is not the same for all citizens, as many divorce laws are based on the religion of the couple. Hence, the grounds for divorce in India are also governed by the respective personal laws. The decree will be granted after all the legal processes are completed as per the guidelines. We shall talk more about these guidelines and recent amendments made to the divorce laws.
Grounds For Divorce
Grounds in this topic context refer to the reasons that are submitted by the applicant for seeking legal separation from the spouse. Even though these grounds for divorce in India have their unique points based on personal law, there still are some common grounds that apply to all.
Cruelty:- You have the rights to seek a divorce if you are subjected to mental or physical harassment from your spouse or your in-laws. The court could try for mediation and counselling, but cruelty holds a valid legal ground to get separated from your spouse.
Adultery:- You can choose to leave your spouse permanently if he/she is having a sexual or intimate affair with someone. It is pertinent for the applicant to collect proof for the same.
Desertion:- Any married man or woman can file for a divorce if their spouse has deserted them for no good reason. It could be informed or uninformed. However, the minimum period for this ground of abandonment of 2 years.
Forcible Conversion:- This ground holds for interfaith marriages. If you marry anyone outside of your religion, you cannot force them to leave their old faith to accept yours. The converted spouse must have converted voluntarily and not under duress. Forcing religious conversion is a valid ground for divorce, and is also a serious crime in many Indian states.
Mental disorder:- Anyone can decide to go for a marriage separation if their spouse has any mental serious mental disorder, which does not allow them to lead a normal marriage relationship. Even though it is a valid ground, it has to be backed by medical evidence.
Incurable diseases:- Although it is unfortunate, you are still allowed to end your marriage if your spouse is suffering from an incurable disease.
Legal Process and Prerequisites
The legal process of divorces is governed by personal laws, which implies that the steps involved will vary as per the religion of the applicant. However, the overall steps will include:
1. Filing a petition:- The first step is to file a divorce petition before the appropriate court. The petition must state the grounds for divorce and include relevant details such as:
- The names and address details of both the parties
- Details of the marriage
- Any supporting evidence.
2. Serving the petition:- After filing the petition, it must be served to the other spouse. The court may require the petitioner to provide proof of service.
3. Response and counterclaim:- The spouse has the opportunity to respond to the divorce petition. The respondent can either contest the divorce or file a counterclaim stating their grounds for divorce.
4. Evidence and arguments:- In case of contested divorces, the process will take place in the court. Here, both the parties are allowed to put forward their arguments. Arguments will hold more value if they are backed with documentary, witnesses, video, or photographic evidence.
5. Mediation or counselling:- In some cases, the court may refer the parties to mediation or counselling to explore the possibility of reconciliation.
6. Decree of divorce:- If the court of law is satisfied with the grounds for divorce and they are proven, it may grant a decree of divorce, thereby legally ending the marriage.
Recent Updates or Amendments In 2023
In 2023, there have been several updates and amendments to divorce laws in India. These changes aim to streamline the divorce process and provide more clarity on certain aspects. Some notable updates include:
1. Introduction of no-fault divorce:- Many a times, married couples wish to separate from each other without placing any blame on each other. The No Fault divorce makes it possible for them to get separated from each other without providing any specific grounds for getting divorced. It also makes it possible for them to complete the process in significantly shorter duration.
2. Mandatory mediation:- Another significant update in 2023 is the emphasis on mediation as a means of resolving marital disputes. The new rules require couples to attend mediation sessions before proceeding with the divorce process.
- Mediation aims to facilitate communication, understanding, and potential reconciliation between the parties involved.
- It provides an opportunity for couples to explore alternative solutions and reach a mutually acceptable agreement, reducing the adversarial nature of divorce proceedings.
3. Simplified divorce procedures:- The amendments in 2023 also aim to simplify and expedite the divorce process. The introduction of online filing systems, digital documentation, and video conferencing for hearings have made the process more accessible and convenient. These technological advancements minimize the need for physical court appearances, saving time and effort for both parties involved.
4. Protection of women’s rights:- The recent updates in divorce laws in India also focus on the protection of women’s rights. Provision has been strengthened to ensure the following rights:
- A fair settlement of alimony
- A fair settlement of maintenance
- A fair settlement of property rights.
The amendments aim to address issues such as economic disparity and ensure that women are not left financially vulnerable after divorce.
5. Awareness and Counselling Programs:- The amendments also emphasize the importance of awareness and counselling programs to educate couples about the consequences and implications of divorce. These programs aim to provide:
- Information on legal rights
- Information on financial implications
- Information on child custody, and co-parenting responsibilities.
Please be reminded that the matrimonial and family laws in India are subjective to religions and personal laws. Therefore, the grounds for divorce in India are not the same for all citizens. Let’s take for example –
- Hindu couples seeking a divorce may follow the Hindu Marriage Act
- Muslim couples may refer to the Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act.
- Christian couples may adhere to the Indian Divorce Act.
- Parsi couples may follow the Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act.
Even the legal process for divorce is subjective to the personal law applicable to the individuals. That is why you will need a good divorce lawyer who is an expert on personal laws.
They will also update their clients and guide them about the new amendments in the family laws. For example, things like mandatory mediation and fault divorce are added newly and considered progressive changes. The new amendments also address other related matters like financial security and women’s rights.
From everything that is mentioned above, it is not easy for divorce applicants to understand all about the pertinent laws and processes that are involved in their case. A good lawyer can guide them to understand the grounds for divorce in India that are specifically applicable to them and guide them through the process.