India has different divorce laws for different religions. Almost all the religions has their own divorce laws in India which are used among themselves. There are separate laws for inter-cast or inter-religion marriages. Divorce laws in India for Hindus is described in Hindu Marriage Act, 1955. Hindu Marriage Act is also used for Sikhs, Buddhists and Jains as they don’t have their own separate marriage and divorce laws. Here is the list of various divorce laws in India for various religions:
Hindu (including Sikhs, Jains and Buddists) : Hindu Marriage Act, 1955
Muslims : Dissolution of Muslim Marriages Act, 1939
Christians : Indian Divorce Act, 1869
Parsis : The Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act, 1936
Inter-Cast of Inter-Religion : Special Marriage Act, 1954
The Indian Divorce, Act Special Marriage Act, the Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act and the Hindu Marriage Act, provide for annulment of the marriage, since its very inception, on grounds such as the non-fulfillment of mandatory conditions.. The Indian Divorce act requires confirmation by the High Court to come into effect.
Grounds for Divorce in India
In India divorce is granted mainly on 4 different grounds.
- Chronic Diseases
Contested Divorce under Hindu Marriage Act 1955
(1) Any marriage solemnised, whether before or after the commencement of this Act, may, on a petition presented by either the husband or the wife, be dissolved by a decree of divorce on the ground that the other party
16 [(i) has, after the solemnisation of the marriage, had voluntary sexual intercourse with any person other than his or her spouse; or]
16 [(ia) has, after the solemnisation of the marriage, treated the petitioner with cruelty; or]
16 [(ib) has deserted the petitioner for a continuous period of not less than two years immediately preceding the presentation of the petition; or]
(ii) has ceased to be a Hindu by conversion to another religion; or
17 [(iii) has been incurably of unsound mind, or has been suffering continuously or intermittently from mental disorder of such a kind and to such an extent that the petitioner cannot reasonably be expected to live with the respondent.
Explanation .In this clause,
(a) the expression mental disorder means mental illness, arrested or incomplete development of mind, psychopathic disorder or any other disorder or disability of mind and includes schizophrenia;
(b) the expression psychopathic disorder means a persistent disorder or disability of mind (whether or not including sub-normality of intelligence) which results in abnormally aggressive or seriously irresponsible conduct on the part of the other party, and whether or not it requires or is susceptible to medical treatment; or]
(iv) has 18 [***] been suffering from a virulent and incurable form of leprosy; or
(v) has 18 [***] been suffering from venereal disease in a communicable form; or
(vi) has renounced the world by entering any religious order; or
(vi) has not been heard of as being alive for a period of seven years or more by those persons who would naturally have heard of it, had that party been alive; 19 [***] 20 [ Explanation. In this sub-section, the expression desertion means the desertion of the petitioner by the other party to the marriage without reasonable cause and without the consent or against the wish of such party, and includes the wilful neglect of the petitioner by the other party to the marriage, and its grammatical variations and cognate expressions shall be construed accordingly.]
Mutual Consent Divorce under Hindu Marriage Act.
Divorce by Mutual Consent
Seeking a divorce in India is a long-drawn out legal affair, where the period of prosecution takes a minimum of six months. However, the time and money required to obtain a divorce can be considerably shortened if the couple seeks divorce by mutual consent. In this case, estranged spouses can mutually agree to a settlement and file for a “no-fault divorce” under Section 13B of the Hindu Marriage Act 1955. All marriages which have been solemnized before or after the Marriage Laws (Amendment) Act 1976, are entitled to make use of the provision of divorce by mutual consent. However, for filing for a divorce on this ground, it is necessary for the husband and wife to have lived separately for at least a year.
Sec.13-B of Hindu Marriage Act 1955- Divorce by mutual consent.-(1) Subject to the provisions of this Act a petition for dissolution of marriage by a decree of divorce may be presented to the District Court by both the parties to a marriage together, whether such marriage was solemnized before or after the commencement of the Marriage Laws (Amendment) Act, 1976, on the ground that they have been living separately for a period of one year or more, that they have not been able to live together and that they have mutually agreed that the marriage should be dissolved.
(2) On the motion of both the parties made earlier than six months after the date of the presentation of the petition referred to in sub-section (1) and not later than eighteen months after the said date, if the petition is not withdrawn in the mean time, the Court shall, on being satisfied, after hearing the parties and after making such inquiry as it thinks fit, that a marriage has been solemnized and that the averments in the petition are true, pass a decree of divorce declaring the marriage to be dissolved with effect from the date of the decree.
Procedure for Filing for Divorce
The procedure for seeking a divorce by mutual consent, is initiated by filing a petition, supported by affidavits from both partners, in the district court. Known as the First Motion Petition for Mutual Consent Divorce, this should contain a joint statement by both partners, that due to their irreconcilable differences, they can no longer stay together and should be granted a divorce by the court. After six months, the Second Motion Petition for Mutual Consent Divorce should be filed by the couple and they are required reappear in the court. A gap of six months is given between the two motions, so as to offer the estranged couple adequate time to reconsider their decision of dissolving their marriage. After hearings from the husband and wife, if the judge is satisfied that all the necessary grounds and requirements for the divorce have been met, the couple is granted a mutual divorce decree. Some of the important issues on which the couple should have agreed, in their petition for divorce by mutual consent, are custody of child, alimony to wife, return of dowry items or “streedhan” and litigation expenses.
ANNULMENT OF MARRIAGE UNDER HINDU MARRIAGE ACT:
There are two ways to legally end a marriage – annulment and divorce. An annulment is a legal procedure which cancels a marriage between a man and a woman. Annulling a marriage is as though it is completely erased – legally, it declares that the marriage never technically existed and was never valid. A divorce, or legal dissolution of a marriage, is the ending of a valid marriage between a man and a woman returning both parties to single status with the ability to remarry. While each individual state has its own laws regarding the grounds for an annulment or for a divorce, certain requirements apply nationwide.
An annulment case can be initiated by either the husband or the wife in the marriage. The party initiating the annulment must prove that he or she has the grounds to do so and if it can be proven, the marriage will be considered null and void by the court. The following is a list of common grounds for annulment and a short explanation of each point:
Bigamy – either party was already married to another person at the time of the marriage
Forced Consent – one of the spouses was forced or threatened into marriage and only entered into it under duress.
Fraud – one of the spouses agreed to the marriage based on the lies or misrepresentation of the other.
Marriage Prohibited By Law – Marriage between parties that based on their familial relationship is considered incestuous.
Mental Illness – either spouse was mentally ill or emotionally disturbed at the time of the marriage.
Mental Incapacity – either spouse was under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of the marriage and was unable to make informed consent.
Inability to Consummate Marriage – either spouse was physically incapable of having sexual relations or impotent during the marriage.
Underage Marriage – either spouse was too young to enter into marriage without parental consent or court approval.
Depending on your state of residence, a divorce can be much more complicated than an annulment. Like annulment cases, each state has its own set of laws regarding divorce. In most divorce cases, marital assets are divided and debts are settled. If the marriage has produced children, a divorce proceeding determines custody of the children, visitation rights and spousal and child support issues.
Each state can have either a “no-fault” divorce or a “fault” divorce. A no-fault divorce allows the dissolution of a legal marriage with neither spouse being named the “guilty party” or the cause for the marital break-up.
Many states now offer the “no-fault” divorce option, a dissolution of a legal marriage in which neither party accepts blame for the marital break-up. In the absence of a “guilty party,” some states require a waiting period of a legal separation before a no-fault divorce can take place. For this reason, in addition to cases where one spouse wishes to assign blame, some parties seek to expedite the legal process by pursuing a traditional, “fault” divorce.
A “fault” divorce is only granted when one spouse can prove adequate grounds. Like an annulment, these grounds vary from state to state, however, there are some overarching commonalities. These guidelines often include addition to drugs, alcohol or gambling, incurable mental illness, and conviction of a crime. The major grounds for divorce that apply in every state are listed below:
Adultery – one or both spouses engages in extramarital relationships with others during the marriage.
Desertion – one spouse abandons the other, physically and emotionally, for a lengthy period of time.
Physical/Emotional Abuse – one spouse subjects the other to physical or violent attacks or emotional or psychological abuse such as abusive language, and threats of physical violence.
Your state law and particular situation will determine whether or not your annulment or divorce will be simple or complex. Familiarizing yourself with the laws for your particular state is the best way to learn what your rights are in the case of a marital dissolution.
Nullity of marriage and divorce:- Void marriages Any marriage solemnized after the commencement of this Act shall be null and void and may, on a petition presented by either party thereto, against the other party be so declared by a decree of nullity if it contravenes any one of the conditions specified in clauses (i), (iv) and (v), Section 5. 12. Voidable.
Marriages.-(1) Any marriage solemnized, whether before or after the
commencement of this Act, shall be voidable and may be annulled by a decree of nullity on any of the following grounds, namely:-
(a) that the marriage has not been consummated owing to the impotency of the respondent; or
(b) that the marriage is in contravention of the condition specified in clause (ii) of Section 5; or
(c) that the consent of the petitioner, or where the consent of the guardian in marriage of the petitioner was required under Section 5 as it stood immediately before the commencement of the Child Marriage Restraint (Amendment) Act, 1978, the consent of such guardian was obtained by force or by fraud as to the nature of the ceremony or as to any material fact or circumstance concerning the respondent; or
(d) that the respondent was at the time of the marriage pregnant by some person other than the petitioner.
(2) Notwithstanding anything contained in sub-section (1), no petition for annulling a marriage-
(a) on the ground specified in clause (c) of sub-section (1) shall be entertained if-
(i) the petition is presented more than one year after the force had ceased to operate or, as the case may be, the fraud had been discovered ; or
(ii) the petitioner has, with his or her full consent, lived with the other party to the marriage as husband or wife after the force had ceased to operate or, as the case may be, the fraud had been discovered;
(b) on the ground specified in clause (d) of sub-section (1) shall be entertained unless the court is satisfied-
(i) that the petitioner was at the time of the marriage ignorant of the facts alleged;
(ii) that proceedings have been instituted in the case of a marriage solemnized before the commencement of this Act within one year of such commencement and in the case of marriages solemnized after such commencement within one year from the date of the marriage; and
(iii) that marital intercourse with the consent of the petitioner has not taken place since the discovery by the petitioner of the existence of the said ground.