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How long does a divorce take in India?

In India, people follow different religions and customs based on their religion.  Marriages are solemnized according to their customs. For Hindus, marriages and divorce issues are governed by Hindu Marriage Act,1955, and the said Act covers other sub section  of the religion such as Sikh, Jain and Buddhists.  People who follow Christianity religion, The Indian Christian Marriage Act, 1872 & Indian Divorce Act, 1869 applicable for their marriage and divorce issues to deal with.  Again for Muslims, their own personal laws deal with marriage and divorce issues such as personal law for Divorce, Dissolution of Marriage Act,1939 and The Muslim Women(Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act,1986. Finally, for Parsis, The Parsi Marriage & Divorce Act 1936 would govern the matrimonial relationships.  Since India is a secular country, Parliament enacted general law by name Special Marriage Act,1954, to deal with marriages and divorce issues that are not covered under above religious laws. This Special Marriage Act also deals with the divorce issues in these kind of marriages.

Divorce could be obtained from two ways, either through mutual consent or through contesting the case.

In mutual consent procedure, for which consent to be given by both parties as they realize that they could not live together any longer under the said circumstances.  Mutual consent would be speedy way to obtain divorce in India.  Once the petition is filed which is the first motion, court give 6 months time for the couple to reconsider their opinion, after completion of six months and within 18 months if the parties caused the second motion, and not agreed to live together, parties should attend the hearing of second motion, and upon hearing the parties, court will pass decree of divorce.  Therefore, minimum period 6 months and maximum of 18 months time required to grant mutual divorce.

The other form of obtaining divorce is by contesting the case (contested divorce) . Petition seeking divorce filed by one of the parties to the Court on one, two or more grounds for divorce depending on the facts of the case. Grounds available for filing petition which are common in all the Marriage and divorce laws, are cruelty, adultery, desertion, mental disorder, renunciation, communicable disease, conversion of religion, and inability to cohabit, not heard for seven years. In the recent times “irretrievable breakdown of marriage” is also considered as ground for divorce.  In these cases, time for granting divorce may depend on various factors, such as disposition of maintenance applications, clarification on children custody issues, financial position of both parties, and property issues. Courts in India act very meticulously in dealing with divorce cases as the ultimate objective of the Court in these proceedings would be to protect the interests of the whole family members. Usually, it may take up to 2 to 3 years or in some cases it may take more than that for granting the final decree.

by Anitha Gutti.