April 8, 2023
“Divorce is expensive. I used to joke they were going to call it 'all the money', but they changed it to 'alimony’. It's ripping your heart out through your wallet.” - Robin Williams (1951- 2014), American actor and comedian.
Divorce is not a comedy but a tragedy for all involved – the concerned couple, children if any, and the families/friends on both sides. Once the marriage is irreparably broken, divorce is the way out to cut the losses in the briefest time possible. But, the couple is expected to wait for six months under the present law in India for the divorce granted by court to take effect as reflected in the following recent report where the issue of pointless wait is focused on.
The Punjab and Haryana high court has held that if a married couple has decided to part ways amicably, they cannot be denied the opportunity to live their lives in the manner they like. According to the high court, in such circumstances, insisting that they wait for another six months to get a divorce would result in adding to their woes.
Justice Arun Menon passed these orders while allowing a revision petition filed by a couple challenging the order dated September 30, 2021, passed by the Panchkula family court whereby their plea for waiver of the statutory period of six months filed in a petition for divorce with mutual consent was dismissed.
The facts of the case are that the couple was married in February 2019 but due to temperamental differences, they started living separately from March 20, 2020.
Having failed to reconcile despite efforts, the parties filed a joint petition for the dissolution of their marriage by way of mutual consent under Section 13-B of the Hindu Marriage Act before the family court. All the disputes pertaining to their matrimonial life had already been amicably settled between the parties.
Both the parties moved an application for waiver of the statutory period of six months, but the family court in September 2021 dismissed it. Aggrieved, the couple approached the HC on the issue.
The counsel for the petitioners submitted that the lower court had not appreciated the facts and circumstances of the case in the right perspective while declining waiver of the period of six months. The contention was that once the parties have amicably consented to part their ways, they cannot be forced to wait for another six months.
During the hearing of the case, the high court personally interacted with the parties and observed that they are well aware of their rights. “They have very consciously taken steps to mutually part ways in the interest of a better future and a happier disposition in life. In the premise, no useful purpose would be served to unnecessarily force them to wait for six months, particularly, when the said wait may turn out to be adversarial qua the future prospects of the co-petitioner wife, with whom I have interacted and on a court query she has confidently stood by her first motion. In her own better interest, she has thus consciously chosen to take divorce and even otherwise her marriage is irretrievably broken down. No useful purpose would be served to continue in such a marriage. The co-petitioner husband also endorses her views and has given his consent for grant of mutual divorce by dissolving the marriage,” observed the HC while waiving off the six-month mandatory period of separation.
While setting aside the lower court’s decision, the HC ordered the principal judge, family court, Panchkula, to entertain the joint petition filed by the couple for divorce by mutual consent by waiving off the mandatory six-month period and proceed with the petition by recording respective statements of the parties.
End of agony!
The subject is open to many views. What are yours? Your response, in the format given below (Pl scroll down a bit) is welcome.