Many couples are now realizing that it's easier to get married than to get a divorce. Separated couples like Sampath Kumar* and Sharada, who are seeking a divorce after being separated for eight years now, will agree to this.
To make the process of obtain a divorce easier and faster, the Supreme Court had recently urged the central government to make amendments to the Hindu Marriage Act. But the amendments are yet to come about, and divorce cases continue to drag for years. Hyderabad Times probes into the process of obtaining a divorce, and finds out what it means to be a divorcee, both for men and women.
Consent or contest?Divorce cases are of two categories: With mutual consent and contested. Cases of mutual consent are those where both partners agree to get a divorce.
However, courts grant them six months time to reconcile their differences or opt for a divorce. "But there is a shorter route for couples seeking a quick divorce, "informs high court lawyer Venkat Ram, adding, "If a couple files an application to waive off the six-month period, then divorce can be granted in a week."
But only five to 10 percent of divorce cases in the city are resolved with mutual consent while the rest are contested. Nearly 100 divorce cases are filed in courts in Secunderabad and Hyderabad every day, "The number of divorce cases is growing at an alarming rate of 15 per cent per year. With the overload of cases, couples have no choice but to wait for years for a divorce."
The long wait for obtaining a divorce makes the separated partners to seek an out-of-court settlement by filing a petition. About 90 per cent of the divorce cases in Hyderabad get resolved this way, as people do not like to wait for years together. Sometimes, divorce cases stay unresolved for more than 12 years In case of contested cases, the court tries to work out a compromise between the husband and wife. In fact, in the initial phase of a case, a day is kept aside just to help couples reconcile.
What leads to a divorce?Some of the most common grounds for getting a divorce are infidelity, incompatibility, mental disorder, deadly and contagious diseases, change of religion and cruelty. "Domestic violence and harassment for dowry still top reasons cited by women for obtaining a divorce," says M Aparna, counsellor of an NGO. Lecturer V Lakshmi, who cited domestic violence as a reason for obtaining a divorce, says, "I opted for divorce as I was unable to bear cynical Behaviour and verbal abuse from my in-laws."
Factors that have contributed most to the increasing incidence of divorces are financial independence and increased literacy among women who refuse to be treated as 'doormats' or continue being silent victims of domestic violence (verbal or physical). Lakshmi is an example of a financially independent woman who exercised her of for a divorce. Marriage counsellor P Swati feels that for a marriage to stay intact, men need to change with the times and respect their partners.
But she adds that sometimes it's husbands who are at the receiving end. Sampath Kumar, a dentist, agrees with Swati. "The process involved in a divorce is terrible and many people resort to it as the last step when nothing else works out. "But Swati believes that men respond well to counseling and change their ways easily, unlike women.
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