Grounds For Divorce Available Only to Women

Last Updated at: October 22, 2019
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All systems of Indian personal laws, with the exception of the Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act, 1936, recognize some separate grounds of divorce for the wife. The Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act, 1936 recognizes the principle of equality and lays down grounds for divorce which either spouse can avail of; for example, it recognizes unnatural offences as a ground for divorce for either spouse, unlike the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 and the Special Marriage Act, 1954. Under

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Hindu Marriage Act, 1955

1. Bigamy: If the husband has another wife from before the commencement of the Act, alive at the time of the solemnization of the marriage of the petitioner. 2. Unnatural Offences: That the husband has, since the solemnisation of the marriage, been guilty of rape, sodomy or bestiality. 3. Separation: Non-resumption of cohabitation for one year after an order of maintenance. 3. Underage: That the marriage was solemnized before she attained the age of fifteen years, and she has repudiated the marriage after attaining that age, but before the age of eighteen. Now, the Special Marriage Act, 1954, provides only two grounds of divorce to the wife — namely, rape, sodomy or bestiality and the non-resumption of cohabitation after an order of maintenance. Muslim law provides seven grounds to the wife alone, seeing that the husband has the provision of unilateral divorce in his favor. These grounds, briefly put, are: 1. Whereabouts Unknown: Whereabouts of the husband not known for four years 2. Failure to Pay: Neglect or failure of the husband to pay maintenance for a period of two years 3. Imprisonment: Sentence to a seven year imprisonment for the husband 4. Impotence: Failure to perform marital obligations by the husband for a period of three years or impotence of the husband at the time of marriage and after 5. Insanity: Insanity of husband for a period of two years or that he is suffering from leprosy or a virulent venereal disease 6. Underage: That the marriage was solemnized before she attained the age of fifteen years, and she has repudiated the marriage after attaining that age, but before the age of eighteen. 7. Cruelty: On the grounds of cruelty, as explained here. Under Christian law, the wife has only one ground for divorce that only she can avail of. It provides that the wife may file a petition for dissolution of marriage if the husband has, since the solemnization of the marriage, been guilty of rape, sodomy or bestiality.

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