GROUNDS OF DIVORCE UNDER THE HINDU MARRIAGE ACT, 1955

Priya and Arjun were married for more than 8 years. But Priya feels that Arjun does not treat her well and continuously harasses her mentally. Priya went to Mr. Lexi to know on what grounds can she get a divorce.

INTRODUCTION

What is meant by a divorce?

The Hindu Marriage Act explains it as dissolution of marriage.

Who can get a divorce under the Hindu Marriage Act?

Two persons who have been married under the Hindu Marriage Act can get a divorce on the grounds mentioned in this act.

GROUNDS OF DIVORCE

There are the following grounds of divorce under this act:-

●Adultery,
●Cruelty,
●Desertion,
●Conversion,
●Mental Disorder,
●Leprosy,
●Venereal disease,
●Renunciation,
●Not heard alive, and
●No resumption of cohabitation.

Who can file for divorce on the above-mentioned grounds?

Both husband and wife can file for divorce on these grounds.

Are there separate grounds available to the wife on which she can ask for a divorce?

●The husband has committed rape.
●If the marriage has been solemnized before the Act, and the husband has married a second woman if the first wife is still alive then the first wife can seek divorce.
●If the girl was married before the age of 15 years, she can file for divorce, if she renounces the marriage before attaining the age of 18 years.
●There has been no cohabitation even after the orders of the court and the husband neglects the maintenance of his wife, then the wife can file for divorce.

What is understood by Adultery?

●It is a matrimonial offense.
●There must be consensual or voluntary sexual intercourse between a married person and another person [other than the husband or wife].
●The other person could be married or unmarried and is of the opposite sex.
●The offense has to be committed while the marriage was subsisting.
●This offense may be proved by circumstantial evidence and contracting venereal disease.
●One act of adultery is enough to get a divorce.
7.What is meant by cruelty as a ground of divorce?
●There are two types of cruelty:-
-Physical cruelty, and
-Mental cruelty.
●Any kind of physical and mental injury which causes danger to life, limb and health is termed as cruelty.
●Physical cruelty- Where one spouse causes bodily injury to another spouse.
●Mental cruelty- Intangible acts which adversely affect the mental health of the spouse.

What is considered as mental cruelty?

The following certain situations are considered as mental cruelty-
●False accusation of adultery,
●The demand for dowry,
●Impotency of husband,
●Force to abort the child,
●The problem of drunkenness of husband,
●Husband having affairs,
●The husband lives an immoral life,
●Aggressive and uncontrollable behavior of the husband.

Which circumstances are not considered as cruelty?

●Wife’s refusal to quit the job.
●Normal wear and tear of married life.

What is understood by the term desertion?

When one spouse voluntarily abandons the other spouse for at least 2 years is considered as desertion by the spouse.

What are the essentials to constitute desertion?

●Permanent abandonment of another spouse.
●Rejection of obligation of marriage.
●No reasonable justification.
●Without the consent of another spouse.
●Petition must be filed after 2 years of desertion.

What is meant by conversion as a ground of divorce?

If any spouse converts himself or herself into another religion, the other spouse can seek divorce on this ground.

What is covered under mental disorder as a ground for divorce?

●If the spouse suffers from incurable mental disorder or insanity.
●The respondent is suffering from a mental disorder of such a kind that it is impossible for the petitioner to live together.

What is understood by the term ‘leprosy’?

It is a disease that is contagious in nature and the spouse can seek divorce in this ground in case the disease is incurable.

What are venereal diseases?

If a spouse is suffering from a serious disease that is communicable, the other spouse can file for divorce on this ground. AIDS is treated as a venereal disease.

What are the essentials of renunciation as a ground of divorce?

●The spouse has renounced the world and has entered a holy order.
●The act of renunciation is absolute and unequivocal.

When can the presumption of death of a spouse be used as a ground of divorce?

●When he or she has not been heard of being alive for at least a period of 7 years is presumed to be dead.
●The petitioner has to prove that the whereabouts of the respondents are not known.

Can divorce be granted on the ground that there is no resumption of cohabitation?

Yes, if the court has passed a decree for cohabitation and the spouse fails to do so, then the petitioner can seek divorce on this ground.

In A Nutshell

●There are various grounds available under the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 which are, adultery, cruelty, desertion, conversion, mental illness, renunciation of the world, leprosy and other venereal diseases, presumption of death etc.
●There are separate grounds available for wife over and above the before mentioned grounds.
●The onus of proof is on the petitioner to show that it is not possible to live with the respondent.

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