What is Indian Divorce Act 1869?

What is Indian Divorce Act 1869?

04-Jul-2021 | Article by Legal White Official

As we all know, India is a country which has people of all the major faiths residing within its boundary. Due to this reason, there are a number of different laws pertaining to different religion. Indian Divorce Act 1869 is the law which governs the divorce laws for the Christians in the country. The Act provides all the details such as grounds for divorce, child custody etc. This is the only law which regulates divorces among the Christian community. This law was codified and enacted by the British and it is in force till today. It was implemented on April 1st 1869; the law is applicable throughout the country except for the Jammu and Kashmir. The law makes it mandatory for the parties to be residing in India in order to file a petition under it.

The divorce under the act can be primarily classified under two types, these are listed as under:

Mutually consensual Divorce

Under this type of divorce, the husband and wife can mutually submit a divorce petition in the District Court. Before the parties can file the petition, it is imperative that they have lived separately for the period of two years and there is no chance they can live together again. In case the parties come to an agreement to stay together again, they may withdraw their applications, however if the applications are not withdrawn within the period of 6 to 18 months, the court may decide in favour of divorce and pronounce its verdict. The parliament amended the law to inculcate divorce by mutual consent in the act.

Nullity of Marriage

According to this, either of the partners can file a petition to nullify the marriage in case the other spouse was mentally unstable, insane or impotent at the time of the marriage. The other reason includes, the party was already married at the time of the marriage. 

The Act also contains the grounds or reasons on which the court may dissolve the marriage. As always, it starts with filing a divorce petition before the district court. The grounds are as follows:

  • On the grounds of adultery committed by either of the spouse.
  • Refusal to consummate the marriage by either of the spouse.
  • On the basis of cruelty
  • Desertion for two or more years
  • In case the party renounce the Christian faith
  • Insanity of one of the spouses for a period of two years
  • Leprosy or venereal disease for two years.

Apart from the above grounds, the law gives the wife power to file the divorce petition on additional grounds such as husband being convicted of a major crime etc.

Lastly, the act also has a say regarding the custody of the children in case of a divorce. In must be understood that, this power lies with the court, even after pronouncing the divorce, the court can pass interim judgment regarding the custody and can grant it to any party. This judgment is generally made keeping in mind the wellbeing and future of the child, however it can be different for different cases

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