Legal Guide

Know All About the Divorce Laws in India

by Bhavya Choudhary · 4 min read

Divorce Laws in India

Introduction

  • Divorce is one of the most devastating occurrences that can happen to any marriage since it is a major life disruptor that may lead to a lot of stress—financial, emotional, and even spiritual. 
  • Because divorce is a private matter, it is related to religion in India, and there are several Divorce laws in India.
  • For Jains, Sikhs, Hindus, and Buddhists in India, the Hindu Marriage Act of 1955 governs the divorce laws in India and the related procedures. 
  • The Indian Divorce Act of 1869 oversees divorce laws for Christians, the Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act of 1936 governs divorce laws in India for Parsis, and the Dissolution of Muslim Marriage Act of 1939 governs divorce laws for Muslims. 
  • All inter-community weddings are regulated by the Special Marriages Act of 1954.

Grounds for Divorce as per the Hindu Marriage Act of 1955

The following explanations of divorce law in India are provided by the Hindu Marriage Act of 1955.

  • Adultery– Adultery is described as the act of participating in any kind of sexual activity, including extramarital relations. Adultery is a serious criminal offense that needs strong evidence to be proven. A 1976 amendment to the legislation stated that a single instance of adultery was sufficient grounds for activating the divorce laws in India.
  • Cruelty– A spouse, has the right to file for divorce as per the divorce laws in India if they have been subjected to any mental or physical harm that threatens their life, limb, or health.
  • Desertion– The abandoned spouse has the right to file for divorce on the grounds of desertion if the other spouse voluntarily deserts them for at least two years.
  • Conversion – The other spouse may file for divorce if the other spouse converts to a different religion as per the divorce laws in India.
  • Mental Illness – A mental illness may lead to divorce if the petitioner’s spouse has an incurable mental disease or is insane and cannot be expected to remain married.
  • Leprosy – The other spouse may file a petition because they have a “virulent and incurable kind of leprosy,” according to the divorce laws in India.
  • Venereal Condition – The other spouse may file for divorce if one spouse has a serious illness that is easily communicable. Venereal infections include sexually transmitted conditions like AIDS.
  • Renunciation – If one spouse joins a religious organization and renounces all worldly activity, the other spouse is entitled to a divorce or separation according to divorce laws in India.
  • Not Heard Alive – If a person is not seen or heard for seven years by those who would typically hear of them, it is assumed that they have passed away. The other spouse should file for divorce if they want to get remarried or immediately consult a divorce lawyer.
  • No Resumption of Cohabitation – If the couple doesn’t start living together again after the court has issued a separation order, it constitutes grounds for divorce laws in India.

These are the other grounds for divorce in India, and only a woman may file for them.

  • If there is a history of rape, bestiality, or sodomy with the husband.
  • The first wife may file for divorce if the union is solemnized before the passage of the Hindu Marriage Act and the husband remarries while she is still alive.
  • If a female marries before the age of fifteen and separates from her spouse before the age of eighteen, she is entitled to a divorce as per the divorce laws in India.
  • The woman may apply for a divorce with legal consultation after a year of no cohabitation and the husband’s failure to make the court-ordered support payments.

Grounds For Divorce under Dissolution of Muslim Marriage Act 1939

The Dissolution of Muslim Marriage Act, 1939, specifies the following grounds for divorce for Muslims in India.

  • The husband’s whereabouts had been unknown for the past four years.
  • The husband has neglected to care for his wife for at least two years.
  • The spouse spent at least seven years behind bars.
  • The partner is unable to carry out his marital obligations.
  • If a girl gets married before becoming fifteen and decides to get divorced before turning eighteen as per the divorce laws in India.
  • The husband exhibits bad behavior.

The following grounds for divorce are listed in the Indian Divorce Act of 1869:

  • Infidelity.
  • Conversion to a new religion.
  • At least two years before the divorce, one of the couples had leprosy, a communicable venereal disease or mental disorder.
  • Has not been seen or heard from in at least seven years can lead to separation as per divorce laws in India.
  • Disobedience to the restoration of matrimonial rights for at least two years.
  • Inflicting cruelty and producing mental pain of which can be hazardous to one’s health and life.
  • A divorce can be requested based on rape, sodomy, or bestiality by the wife.

Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act of 1936: Grounds for Divorce (Amendment 1988)

  • A seven-year absence without interruption.
  • Pregnancy by a man other than the husband provided the husband was unaware of the occurrence at the time of marriage and did not engage in sexual activity after learning of the condition as deciphered by divorce laws in India.
  • Failing to consummate a marriage within a year. 
  • Insanity is if the other spouse was unaware of the fact at the time of the marriage and the divorce was filed within three years of the marriage. Within two years of the end of the marriage, the divorce must be filed with consultation from a divorce lawyer.
  • Any grave sexual offense, including adultery, bigamy, fornication, rape, and others; 
  • Cruel behavior; 
  • Giving the wife a venereal disease or forcing her into prostitution is prohibited as per divorce laws in India.
  • Seven years or more behind bars. 
  • Two years or more of desertion ;
  • Unable to live together again after receiving a maintenance order or a court-ordered separation.

Conclusion

Significant changes in divorce laws in India have occurred during the past ten years, according to Indian society. However, there are diverse views on divorce throughout India. 

Even though divorce is now a more often used phrase than it ever was, our culture has not accepted it as it should. The individual seeking divorce and who wants to understand the laws related to it should seek legal consultation so that they can take proper action.

Understanding Family Law in India is a complex task, and one must take help from a professional lawyer for speedy disposal of disputes.

Bhavya Choudhary

Written by

Bhavya Choudhary

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