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MATRIMONIAL DISPUTES

Marriage is a sacred institution. It is the very foundation of a stable family and civilized society. It accords status and security to the parties and their offspring. When a wedding takes place between two individuals, they bring in different goals into the marriage. Some of these goals relate to the experiences they have had while growing up, previous relationships, etc. These goals keep changing throughout the life of the marriage. This leads to disagreements over how the marriage should function. When such disagreements become persistent, they give rise to envious attitude, suspicions, and strife. How strongly a person feels about their goals, depend on their priorities which in turn are influenced by a person’s self-interests. These self-interests create hindrance in resolving differences and in taking any step towards an agreement.

The following are the grounds for divorce in India mentioned under section 13 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955.

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Adultery

The act of indulging in any sexual relationship including intercourse outside marriage is termed as adultery. In Veena Kalia v. Jatinder Nath Kalia[11] the husband after marriage went abroad for studies leaving his two minor daughters and his wife in India. For twenty-three years, they lived apart, and the husband contracted a second marriage there. He had three children out of the second marriage. He was thus, guilty of cruelty, desertion, and adultery. The wife got a divorce on these grounds, and the husband was ordered to pay her maintenance of Rs. 10,000 per month. The court also ordered him to deposit Rs. 10 lakhs in the court towards for expenses of his daughters’ marriages.

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Cruelty

A spouse can file a divorce case when he/she is subjected to any mental and physical injury that causes danger to life, limb, and health. Certain instances, such as denying food, continuous ill-treatment and dowry-related abuses, perverse sexual act and the like are included under cruelty. In Smt. Arati Mondal v. Bhupati Mondal [12]the Calcutta High Court held that the act of deprivation of conjugal right on the part of the wife toward her husband is worst form of cruelty. In another case of Smt. Mamata Dubey v. Rajesh Dubey [13]the court held that constantly accusing the husband of having an adulterous relationship with others which proved later to be false and sending the family members to jail under Section 498-A of I.P.C. amounts to cruelty.

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Desertion

If one of the spouses voluntarily abandons his/her partner for at least two years, the abandoned spouse can file a divorce case on the ground of desertion. In Smt. Sunita v. Ramesh Kumar [14] a petition was filed on the grounds of desertion and cruelty by the wife. In this case, after marriage, the parties lived together only for about a week. After that, the wife joined the company of the husband nearly after six months and stayed there for about five days only. She falsely involved the husband and his family members in a number of criminal as well as civil cases. The Panchayat settled the matter of separation, still, no effort was made by the wife to join the matrimonial home. In most of the criminal cases, she was not able to substantiate the claims made by her. The court held that, in such cases, grant of divorce on the ground of desertion and cruelty would be proper.

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Conversion

In case either of the spouse converts himself/herself into another religion, the other spouse may file a divorce case based on this ground.

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Mental Disorder

A mental disorder can become a ground for filing a divorce if the spouse of the petitioner suffers from incurable mental disorder and insanity and therefore cannot be expected from the couple to stay together. In Harmanjit Kaur v. Bhupinder Singh Gill [15] the appellant had a mental disorder (Schizophrenia) since before her marriage, and this fact was not disclosed to the respondent. According to the medical advice, the disease is incurable, and she might become a danger to the husband and also to the child. Therefore the court granted the divorce.

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Leprosy

In case of a ‘virulent and incurable’ form of leprosy, a petition can be filed by the other spouse based on this ground.

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Venereal Disease

If one of the spouses is suffering from a severe disease that is easily communicable, a divorce can be filed by the other spouse. The sexually transmitted diseases

like AIDS are accounted to be venereal diseases. The other forms of venereal diseases include Syphilis and Gonorrhea; and of these two, former is considered to be more dangerous. Congenital syphilis is not a disease in a communicable form and is thus not considered to be a ground of divorce.

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Not Heard Alive

If a person is not seen or heard alive by those who are expected to be ‘naturally heard’ of the person for a continuous period of seven years, the person is presumed to be dead. The other spouse should need to file a divorce if he/she wants to remarry.

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No Resumption of Cohabitation

It becomes a ground for divorce if the couple fails to resume their cohabitation after the court has passed a decree of separation.

Under section 13(2) following are the grounds for divorce in India on which a petition can be filed only by the wife:-

  1. If the husband has indulged in rape, bestiality, and sodomy.
  2. If the marriage is solemnized before the Hindu Marriage Act and the husband has again married another woman in spite of the first wife being alive, the first wife can seek for a divorce.(Bigamy)

A girl is entitled to file for a divorce if she was married before the age of fifteen and renounces the marriage before she attains eighteen years of age.

If there is no cohabitation for one year and the husband neglects the judgment of maintenance awarded to the wife by the court, the wife can contest a divorce

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Stages of marital discord

  1. Ignorance: Couples who are newly married and haven’t learned how to successfully resolve their differences try to settle things by avoiding confrontation. They try to avoid the problem and never discuss it. This pattern persists for a long time, and eventually, the attitude begins to shift towards the next stage.
  2. An assertion of Demands: After a considerable period, couples realize that this attitude has contributed to their misery and suddenly begin demanding the fulfillment of their needs. They start voicing their thoughts and opinions at every opportunity. But unfortunately, this stage doesn’t work either and creates further strife between husband and wife.
  3. Compromising and Negotiating: As the couple begins to face other pressures and demands due to the nature of a marital relationship, such as time management tensions, hectic schedules, stress from their parenting responsibilities, financial burdens, etc. it coerces them to negotiate and compromise. Consequently, the also begin to question their compatibility.
  4. Resignation: It is natural to feel exhausted due to such unending conflicts, and also feel hopeless about resolving these conflicts. It is at this stage that couples feel the need to go for expert marriage guidance, or as a worst-case scenario, seek some legal remedy.
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Restitution of conjugal rights

The right or entitlement to consortium is the most significant component of marital bond. When one spouse leaves the other or withdraws or abandons the company of the other without any reasonable cause, the aggrieved spouse may seek court intervention. The idea behind relief by way of restitution of conjugal rights is to aim to restore a relationship which has got estranged for whatever reasons. This remedy has been statutorily provided under all personal laws, viz. Section 9 of Hindu Marriage Act, Section 32-33 Divorce Act, Section 36 Parsi Marriage, And Divorce Act and Section 22 of the Special Marriage Act. While the Muslim law has no statutory provision but, from texts and principles of Mullah, it means right to stay together. If either the husband or the wife, without reasonable excuses, withdraw from the society of the other, the aggrieved party may approach the Court for restitution of conjugal rights. The following will have to be proved:-

  • The withdrawal by the respondent from the society of the petitioner (aggrieved party).
  • The withdrawal is without any reasonable cause or exclusive or lawful ground.
  • There should be no other legal ground for refusal of the relief.
  • The court should be satisfied with the truth of the statement made in the petition.
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MUTUAL CONSENT

Under section 13B of Hindu marriage act 1955 the Marriage Laws (Amendment) Act 1976 provided for a new theory of divorce known as “Divorce by mutual consent.” Divorce by Mutual Consent as the name suggests is when both parties, i.e., husband and wife come to a mutual understanding that the marriage is dissolved amicably.