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Grounds for Divorce in India

divorce-in-indiaDivorce is the dissolution of marriage or the termination of a marital union.

Grounds for Divorce in India

The secular mind-set of the Indian judicial system has initiated proclamation of various personal laws based on different religious faiths. Hindus, Christians and Muslims are governed under separate marriage acts and grounds for divorce in India.

Divorce under Hindu Marriage Act 1955

The provision of “Divorce” has been dealt with under the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 as being a true blue method whereby both the parties to the marriage, decide to break all the promises or vows taken at the time of marriage. All Hindus, Buddhist, Jains or Sikhs are covered under the divorce provisions of the act.

Grounds for Divorce under the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955

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

  1. Adultery – The act of indulging in any kind of sexual relationship including intercourse outside marriage is termed as adultery. Adultery is counted as a criminal offence and substantial proofs are required to establish it. An amendment to the law in 1976 states that one single act of adultery is enough for the petitioner to get a divorce.
  2. Cruelty – A spouse can file a divorce case when he/she is subjected to any kind of mental and physical injury that causes danger to life, limb and health. The intangible acts of cruelty through mental torture are not judged upon one single act but series of incidents. Certain instances like the food being denied, continuous ill treatment and abuses to acquire dowry, perverse sexual act etc are included under cruelty.
  3. Desertion – If one of the spouses voluntarily abandons his/her partner for at least a period of two years, the abandoned spouse can file a divorce case on the ground of desertion.
  4. Conversion – In case either of the two converts himself/herself into another religion, the other spouse may file a divorce case based on this ground.
  5. Mental Disorder – 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.
  6. Leprosy – In case of a ‘virulent and incurable’ form of leprosy, a petition can be filed by the other spouse based on this ground.
  7. Venereal Disease – If one of the spouses is suffering from a serious 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.
  8. Renunciation – A spouse is entitled to file for a divorce if the other renounces all worldly affairs by embracing a religious order.
  9. 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 is interested in remarriage.
  10. No Resumption of Co-habitation – It becomes a ground for divorce if the couple fails to resume their co-habitation after the court has passed a decree of separation.

 Must Read: Divorce Under Muslim Law

Additional Grounds for Dissolution of the Marriage by the Wife

Under the act, the wife is entitled to seek divorce from her husband on the following grounds:

  1. Where the husband has another living wife from his previous subsisting marriage, before the commencement of the act.
  2. Post the marriage, the husband was found guilty of rape, sodomy or bestiality.
  3. Where the wife was awarded an order or decree for maintenance under section 18 of the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956 or under section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1975, by the court, in spite of the fact that she was living apart from her husband even before the passage of such decree or order. The conjugal relations between the parties failed to resume within one year or more, even after the passage of this order.
  4. The marriage was performed before the attainment of 15 years of age by the wife, and on completion of 15 years and not before 18 years of age, the wife rejected the marriage.Under the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, a divorce petition can be filed by the parties only after the passage of one year from the marriage date.

Grounds for Divorce under the Dissolution of Muslim Marriage act, 1939

Based on the Dissolution of Muslim Marriage Act, 1939, a Muslim woman can seek divorce on the following grounds for divorce in India.

  1. The husband’s whereabouts are unknown for a period of four years.
  2. The husband has failed to provide maintenance to the wife for at least two years.
  3. The husband has been under imprisonment for seven or more years.
  4. The husband is unable to meet the marital obligations.
  5. If the girl is married before fifteen and decides to end the relationship before she turns eighteen.
  6. The husband indulges in acts of cruelty.

Grounds for Divorce under the Indian Divorce Act, 1869

The following are the grounds of divorce mentioned under the Indian Divorce Act, 1869.

  1. Adultery
  2. Conversion to another religion
  3. One of the couples suffering from an unsound mind, leprosy or communicable venereal disease for at least two years before the filing of the divorce.
  4. Not been seen or heard alive for a period of seven or more years.
  5. Failure in observing the restitution of conjugal rights for at least two years.
  6. Inflicting cruelty and giving rise to mental anxiety that can be injurious to health and life.
  7. Wife can file a divorce based on the grounds of rape, sodomy and bestiality.
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