Divorce

Divorce (or the dissolution of marriage) is the final termination of a marital union, cancelling the legal duties and responsibilities of marriage and dissolving the bonds of matrimony between the parties (unlike annulment which declares the marriage null and void). In India, divorce is also governed by specialised laws governing various religions. Hindus (which includes Sikh, Jain, Budh) are governed by Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, Christians are governed by Indian Divorce Act, 1869 & The Indian Christian Marriage Act, 1872, Muslims are governed by Personal laws of Divorce and also the Dissolution of Marriage Act, 1939 & The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986, Parsis are governed by The Parsi Marriage & Divorce Act, 1936 and there is also a secular law called Special Marriage Act, 1954 that govern divorces of other religions and nationals.

The grounds and procedure for the divorce under these legislations are more or less similar. Divorce under these laws can be obtained by two ways- Divorce by Mutual Consent and Contested Divorce. Mutual Consent Divorce is a simple way of coming out of the marriage and dissolves it legally. Important requirement is the mutual consent of the husband & wife. In Contested Divorce, the parties have to contest for getting divorce on one or many grounds. Indian laws in general recognise cruelty, Desertion, Unsoundness of mind, Impotency, renouncing the world, etc. for divorce. Aggrieved party has to take one of the above grounds of divorce and will have to file the case in the Court of appropriate jurisdiction. Party which files the case has to prove the case with support of evidence and documents. On successfully proving the case, divorce will be granted and divorce decree will be drawn up accordingly.

Marriage in India can also be dissolved by means of Annulment. Procedure for annulment is same as that of Divorce except that the grounds for annulment are different than that of divorce. Grounds for annulment are fraud, pregnancy of wife by person other than the husband, impotency prior to the marriage and subsist even at the time of filing the case. Once annulment is granted by the Indian Court, status of the parties remains as it was prior to the marriage.

There are certain form of marriages which are null and void despite the performance/ solemnization of the same. However in cases of void marriages, appropriate suit must be filed before the court of appropriate jurisdiction for declaration of such marriages as void.

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