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Divorce in India: How to Navigate this Complex Legal Process

The legal process to get a divorce in India is largely based on the religion of the husband and wife. Therefore, the country developed divorce laws called personal laws based on the different religions such as the:

  1. Hindu Marriage Act 1955,
  2. Dissolution of Muslim Marriages Act 1939 in accordance with Sharia law,
  3. Indian Christian Marriage Act 1872 and the Divorce Act 1869, and
  4. Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act 1936.

The divorce rate in India remains very low at 1% where only 13 out of every 1,000 marriages result in divorce. This is in contrast to a country such as the U.S., where the divorce rate is as high as 50% for all married couples. Luxembourg has the highest divorce rate in the world at appropriately 84%. Despite the low Indian divorce rates, divorce does occur and this article discusses the necessary step.

Steps to File for Divorce in India

Divorce in India
A reconciliation attempt for the married couple is often mandatory before a court will allow for a divorce.

It is vital to follow the correct legal steps to ensure the divorce actually occurs. The central legal document is the petition, and a petition is a formal request to the court both asking and stating the reasons for a divorce. After the petition is filed with the court, along with supporting documents, the couple will likely have a court ordered six months “cooling period” in case the couple decides on reconciliation. If reconciliation is not possible, a final divorce decree will be issued by the court.

It is important for the petition to list the reasons/legal grounds for divorce.

II. Grounds for Divorce

It is important to follow the divorce laws of the couple’s religion, as it will directly provide the reasons for a divorce in India. Nevertheless, the laws tend to share common reasons for divorce such as:

  1. Adultery,
  2. Desertion,
  3. Cruelty,
  4. Leprosy, and
  5. Imprisonment for more than seven years

It is vital to ensure individuals consult and hire a local Indian lawyer, who will be able to best help couples navigate these laws.

It is important to talk to a lawyer before you go through a divorce in India

IV. Importance of a Divorce Lawyer

An experienced divorce attorney will be able to ensure that their client is properly protected. For example, a divorcing wife may be entitled to financial maintenance support from the husband during the divorce process. In addition, the wife will likely be entitled to alimony and child support. This is common in many jurisdictions around the world and a lawyer will properly request all of support, as well as help protect husbands.

V. Conclusion

The divorce rate in India is extremely low and some believe this may be a result of cultural pressures. However, divorce does occur in India and couples have legal rights to protect themselves during the process. The religion of the couple provide the legal framework, and a local lawyer will ensure everyone is protected.

For more India law content, please visit our Asia Pacific Law Section.

Geremy Johnson
Geremy Johnsonhttps://www.geremyjohnson.com/
Geremy is a lawyer based in the United States focused on global development pertaining to privacy and compliance, capacity-building through partnerships and trainings, and supporting cultural development projects for increased tourism. He began his career as an Assistant District Attorney (ADA) for the City of Philadelphia, later moving on to help global startups and small and medium sized businesses with holistic legal strategies to launch and run operations.


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