India a vibrant diverse country accepts personal laws of its citizen. Every citizen of India is entitled to have his own personal laws inter alia in the matter of marriage and divorce. Matrimonial disputes include issues related to child custody as well as child protection law, ancillary/ financial property where either spouse is in India or has assets in India.
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Hindus are governed by Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 which provides for the conditions of a Hindu Marriage where under the bridegroom should be of 21 years and bride of 18 years, they both should be Hindus and should not be within the degree of prohibited relationship or sapindas, neither party should have a spouse living nor any party should be subject to recurrent attacks of insanity or epilepsy, either of them should not be suffering from mental disorders or should not be unfit for marriage and procreation of children and both should be of sound mind and capable of giving valuable consent.
Divorce under the Hindu Marriage Act 1955 can be obtained on the grounds of:
- Desertion for two years
- Conversion in religion
- Unsound mind
- Suffering from venereal disease and/or Leprosy
- Either spouse has renounced the world not heard for 7 years
- No resumption of co-habitation for one year after the decree of judicial separation
- No restitution of conjugal rights for one year after decree for restitution of conjugal rights Husband guilty of rape sodomy or bestiality
- And if after an order of maintenance is passed under the Hindu Maintenance and Adoptions Act or the Criminal Procedure Code there has been no cohabitation for one year.
As regards the maintenance and adoption of children, Hindus are governed by The Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act.
Muslims are governed by their personal laws under which “Nikah” (i.e. marriage) is a contract and may be permanent or temporary and permits a man 4 wives if he treats all of them equally. To have a valid “Nikah” under the Muslim Law, presence of a Qazi (Priest) is not necessary. Merely a proposal in the presence and hearing of two sane males or one sane male and two sane female adults, all Muslims and acceptance of the said proposals at the same time constitute a valid Nikah under the Muslim Personal Law. A husband can divorce his wife without any reasons merely by pronouncing thrice the word “Talak”. However for a Muslim woman to obtain divorce certain conditions are necessary.
For Parsees there is a Parsee Marriage & Divorce Act, 1939 which governs the provisions of their marriage and law and for Indian Christian there is a Indian Christian Marriage Act 1889. Persons of any religion who get married under the Special Marriage Act, 1954 are governed by the said act.
There are certain penal provisions also in the Criminal Procedure Code providing for the maintenance of the wife and punishment for bigamy.
(click on the following links for details)
- The Indian Divorce Act, 1869
- The Special Marriage Act, 1954
- The Hindu Marriage Act, 1955
- The Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act, 1956
- The Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act, 1956
- The Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961
- The Foreign Marriage Act, 1969
- The Family Courts Act, 1984
- The Muslim Women (Protection Of Rights On Divorce) Act, 1986