We all know that marriage is a sacred institution. Do you want to get married? Want to know the requirements of valid marriage? Or has your relationship with your spouse strained and you want to get separated? Want to know the grounds of separation? Are you worrying about the expenses after separation? For answers to these and similar questions, let’s go to this section and look into the various provisions of Hindu laws.

In 2006, the Supreme Court has given the direction that the marriages of all persons who are citizens of India belonging to various religions should be made compulsorily registrable in their respective States, where the marriage has been solemnise.

Following are the conditions of a valid Hindu marriage:

  • A Hindu cannot have a spouse (a lawfully wedded wife or husband) living at the time of marriage.
  • At the time of marriage, the parties should be of sound mind and capable of giving a valid consent. None of them should suffer from any sort of mental disorder, making them for unfit for marriage and procreation of children. None should have frequent attacks of insanity.
  • The bridegroom must have completed the age of 21 years and bride, age of 18 years to get married.
  • The spouses must not be within prohibited degree of relationship unless there is a custom or usage governing otherwise.

(Prohibited degree of relationship means a person cannot marry father or daughter or mother or widow of his brother/uncle etc.)

  • The spouses should not be sapindas of each other unless the custom or usage permits. (According to old Hindu Law, when two persons offer Pinda to same ancestors, then it is said that they are in a sapinda relationship.)

A Hindu marriage may be solemnized in accordance with customary rites and ceremonies of at least one party. It is not necessary that customary rites of both the parties should be followed. If such rites and custom is saptpadi (like saat phere) the marriage becomes complete and binding only when the 7th step is taken.

A marriage will be considered a void marriage if:
(a) If any of the parties to a marriage has another spouse living at the time of marriage, or

(b) If the parties are within a prohibited relationship unless the customs allow it, or

(c) If a marriage is between the parties who are of his or her relations or of the same family.

These marriages are valid unless the petition for invalidating the marriage is made.

It will be valid unless the petition for invalidating the marriage is made. The parties of such marriage have to decide whether they want to go with such marriage or make it invalid.

The marriage is voidable when

  • The party to the marriage is not capable of giving consent due to the unsoundness of mind or suffering from mental disorder which makes her unfit for reproduction of children.
  • If the party has been suffering from repeated attacks of insanity.
  • The consent of marriage by either of the parties is done by force or by fraud.
  • If either of the parties are under the prescribes age. or If the respondent is pregnant with a child of someone other than the bridegroom while marrying.

Where either spouse has abandoned or withdrawn from the society of the other without reasonable excuse or just cause, the court should grant a decree for restitution.

This is to bring about cohabitation between the estranged parties so that they could live together in the matrimonial home in amity.

The valid grounds for separate living include grossly indecent behaviour, agreement to live separate, refusal to marital intercourse without sufficient reasons, misconduct approaching cruelty etc.

Various grounds available to both the spouses on which a decree of divorce can be obtained are as follows-

  • Adultery (a married person having sexual intercourse with a person of opposite gender other than the wife or husband of the person.)
  • Cruelty (includes False accusation of adultery, Demand of Dowry, Impotency etc.)
  • Desertion (abandonment of one spouse by the other without any reasonable cause)
  • Conversion (any of the spouse cease to be hindu by converting to any other religion )
  • Insanity (when the person is of unsound mind)
  • Vereneal disease (any disease is in communicable form)
  • Renounced the world (if either of the spouses has not been heard alive for at least 7 years)

Grounds of divorce available to wife only are-

  • Rape, sodomy, or bestiality (if the husband is guilty of Rape, sodomy, or bestiality)
  • Non-Resumption Of Cohabitation After A Decree/Order Of Maintenance
  • Repudiation Of Marriage (when the marriage was solemnized before the wife attained the age of fifteen years, and she has repudiated the marriage, but before the age of eighteen)

The court can also provide alternative relief depending on the circumstances of the case, it may pass a decree for judicial separation instead of divorce. However, alternate relief cannot be given when ground of divorce is either conversion or renunciation of world or presumption of death.

A petition for divorce can be presented by any spouse only after expiry of 1 year of marriage. The court will not entertain such petition before the said period, except in exceptional circumstances.

The divorce petition is in the form of an affidavit, which is to be submitted to the family court of the city/district where both the partners lived together for the last time, this was their matrimonial home. If both the parties are determined to dissolve their marriage, they may do so in a further civilized and cultured way than by quarreling between themselves in a court.

  • This provision applies to marriages formalized before or after the commencement of the Marriage Laws (Amendment) Act, 1976.
  • The parties to the wedding should have been living independently for a period of one year or more.
  • The parties should persuade the Court that they have not been able to live together and that they have mutually agreed that the marriage should be dissolved.
  • Period of Interregnum- The appeal should not have been withdrawn in six months after the date of the appearance of the appeal and not later than eighteen months after the said date.
  • Remarriage without getting a divorce is a punishable offence with seven years of imprisonment.
  • Throughout this period of interregnum (6 months) when the petition is pending in the court, any of the partners is fully permitted to withdraw the mutual consent by filing an application before the court stating that he/she does not wish to seek divorce by mutual consent. In such circumstances, the court grants no divorce decree

The decree of judicial separation does not dissolve the marriage (unlike a decree absolute in divorce), the spouses remain married. It simply relieves the parties of their duty and obligation to live together.

The grounds for Judicial separation are the same as grounds for divorce.

After the decree, it will not be obligatory for the parties to cohabit with each other or live together.

  1. Wife is entitled to maintain under Section 24 of HMA along with children.
  2. She can also claim maintenance if she has a valid reason and there may not be any actual fight with the husband under Section 18 of Hindu Adoption & Maintenance Act,1956.
  3. She can also claim for maintenance under Section 125 of CrPC if that given in the above section is not sufficient for her survival and existence.
  4. Even, if wife commits fraud, she is entitled to maintenance under the above sections.
  5. If a husband marries again during the subsistence of first marriage, then although second wife is not considered under the definition of ‘wife’ as her marriage is void and not valid. But still, she is entitled to maintain as the husband can’t have the benefit of his own wrong.