Divorce, also known as the dissolution of marriage, is the legal process of ending a marriage. It involves dissolving the legal bond between two spouses and resolving issues related to child custody, child support, alimony, and property division. Divorce can be a complex and emotionally challenging process, and it is important to seek the assistance of a lawyer and other professionals to navigate the legal and emotional challenges. In many countries, divorce laws vary based on the specific jurisdiction and may be governed by religious or cultural traditions. It is important to familiarize yourself with the divorce laws in your jurisdiction and to seek legal advice if you are considering filing for divorce.
In India, the law governing divorce is the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, which applies to Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, and Sikhs. The Act provides for the dissolution of marriage by a decree of divorce on certain grounds, which include:
- Adultery: If either spouse has voluntarily had sexual intercourse with someone other than the other spouse, then the other spouse may file for divorce on the grounds of adultery.
- Desertion: If one spouse abandons the other spouse for a continuous period of at least two years, then the abandoned spouse may file for divorce on the grounds of desertion.
- Cruelty: If one spouse treats the other spouse with such cruelty as to cause reasonable apprehension in the mind of the latter that it is not safe to live with the former, then the latter may file for divorce on the grounds of cruelty.
- Conversion: If one spouse converts to a religion other than the religion of the other spouse, then the other spouse may file for divorce on the grounds of conversion.
- Mental disorder: If one spouse is suffering from a mental disorder or mental illness of such a nature and extent that the other spouse cannot reasonably be expected to live with them, then the latter may file for divorce on the grounds of mental disorder.
- Venereal disease: If one spouse is suffering from a venereal disease in a communicable form, then the other spouse may file for divorce on the grounds of venereal disease.
- Leprosy: If one spouse is suffering from leprosy, then the other spouse may file for divorce on the grounds of leprosy.
- Renunciation of the world: If one spouse has renounced the world by entering any religious order, then the other spouse may file for divorce on the grounds of renunciation of the world.
- Presumption of death: If one spouse 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 the spouse if the spouse were alive, then the other spouse may file for divorce on the grounds of presumption of death.
In addition to these grounds, the Act also allows for divorce by mutual consent, where both spouses agree to the dissolution of their marriage. In such cases, the divorce may be granted by a decree of divorce by mutual consent, provided that the spouses have been living separately for a period of at least one year before the presentation of the petition for divorce.
It is important to note that divorce is not granted lightly in India, and the courts will typically try to reconcile the parties and bring about a settlement before granting a divorce. The courts may also award maintenance to the spouse who is not at fault and does not have sufficient means to maintain themselves.
Procedure for Divorce
The procedure for obtaining a divorce in India is as follows:
- Filing a petition: The first step in obtaining a divorce is to file a petition for divorce in the appropriate court. The petition must be filed in the court in the jurisdiction in which either the husband or the wife resides.
- Service of summons: Once the petition is filed, the court will issue a summons to the other spouse, requiring them to appear in court on a specified date. The summons must be served on the other spouse, either by personal service or by registered post.
- Appearance in court: On the date specified in the summons, both spouses must appear in court. If one of the spouses does not appear, the court may proceed with the divorce proceedings in their absence.
- Evidence: Both spouses must present evidence in support of their case. This may include witness testimony, documents, and other forms of evidence.
- Decree of divorce: After considering the evidence presented by both spouses, the court will decide whether to grant a decree of divorce. If the court grants the decree, it will specify the terms of the divorce, including any maintenance payments that may be required.
It is important to note that the divorce process in India can be time-consuming, and it may take several months or even years for the proceedings to be completed. It is advisable to seek the assistance of a lawyer to navigate the legal process and ensure that your rights are protected.
Things to Do Before You File For a Divorce
If you are considering filing for a divorce, there are a few things you should do before you take this step:
- Consult with a lawyer: It is a good idea to consult with a lawyer before you file for divorce, especially if you have complex financial issues or children. A lawyer can help you understand your rights and options and guide you through the legal process.
- Gather important documents: You will need to provide certain documents to your lawyer and the court as part of the divorce process. These may include financial documents such as bank statements, tax returns, and pay stubs, as well as documents related to any property or assets you own.
- Make a budget: It is important to have a clear understanding of your financial situation before you file for divorce. Make a budget that includes all of your income and expenses, and consider the impact of the divorce on your financial stability.
- Consider counseling: If you are struggling with the decision to file for divorce, or if you are experiencing high levels of stress or conflict in your relationship, it may be helpful to consider counseling. A therapist or counselor can provide you with support and help you work through your emotions.
- Make a plan for your children: If you have children, it is important to consider their well-being and make a plan for their care. This may include deciding on a custody arrangement and creating a schedule for visits and exchanges.
It is important to remember that the divorce process can be emotionally and financially challenging. It is a good idea to take the time to carefully consider your options and seek the assistance of a lawyer and other professionals as needed.
Things You Should Avoid When You Go For Divorce
There are several things you should avoid doing when you are going through a divorce:
- Don’t hide assets or lie about your finances: It is important to be honest about your financial situation during the divorce process. Hiding assets or lying about your finances can result in legal consequences and may damage your credibility in court.
- Don’t badmouth your ex to your children: It is important to remember that your children love both of their parents and that it is not helpful to speak negatively about your ex to them. This can be confusing and distressing for them and may have long-term negative effects on their emotional well-being.
- Don’t neglect your own well-being: The divorce process can be emotionally and physically draining. It is important to take care of yourself and seek support from friends, family, and professionals as needed.
- Don’t make major life decisions while you are upset: It is natural to feel emotional during a divorce, but it is important to try to make decisions rationally rather than in the heat of the moment. Avoid making major life decisions, such as selling property or quitting your job, while you are upset.
- Don’t ignore the terms of the divorce decree: Once the divorce is final, it is important to follow the terms of the divorce decree. This includes paying any required maintenance or support payments and following any custody or visitation agreements. Ignoring the terms of the decree can result in legal consequences.
In conclusion, divorce is a complex legal process that can have significant emotional and financial consequences. In India, the law governing divorce is the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, which provides for the dissolution of marriage on certain grounds, including adultery, cruelty, and conversion. The divorce process in India involves filing a petition in the appropriate court, serving summons on the other spouse, presenting evidence, and obtaining a decree of divorce. It is important to seek the assistance of a lawyer and consider counseling to navigate the legal and emotional challenges of divorce. It is also important to avoid common mistakes, such as hiding assets or neglecting your own well-being, and to follow the terms of the divorce decree once the divorce is final.
Adv Mikky Sudhakaran