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When A Couple Decides To Divorce, The Court Doesn’t Need To Be Nosey About It

Posted: August 15, 2016
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Here’s how the Madras high court’s ruling on cases where a couple decides to divorce can be in favour of women. Read to know more!

The Indian Marital Bedroom has always tended to be everyone’s business. From aunties who are all too curious to know if you’ve been impregnated, (some hyper-curious ones ask newlywed brides right from week one of married life), to reams of unsolicited advice on how one should run her marital home, there has been a lot and more about the marital home that’s become everybody’s business.

Call it a cultural notion or a matter of traditional social attitudes – the fact that stands out is that every stakeholder wants a marriage to work out.  This is why, in India, marriage is more than just about brides and grooms, it is about their families.

With all this cultural premium attached to marriage, when the D word rears its head, it is almost gasp-worthy. Families dovetail into the conversation, try to persuade the couple to work things out. If it is an arranged marriage, the premium remains on the social stigma that might come from a broken marriage – stigma that might have a ripple effect on the families.

If it is a love marriage, most often than never, the ‘I-told-you-so’ tag is slapped, and there’s a stigma that might have a ripple effect on the families. This ultimately fuelled the need to offer ‘solid reasons’ to justify a divorce – something that even the judiciary once stressed on.

However, in a recent proactive judgment, the status quo was changed – at least for Tamil Nadu, going by jurisdiction. Thanks to the Madras High Court’s ruling, if a married couple wants divorce by mutual consent, it is not a court’s business to deny them judicial separation by insisting on knowing the reason for their decision.

The division bench comprising Justice K K Sasidharan and Justice N Gokuldas said: “In case the marriage is a failure and the parties wanted to put an end to the marital bond, the court should respect the sentiments and grant divorce. It is not the intention of the legislature to deny divorce in spite of the parties taking a conscious decision to part ways.”

Given the premium on arranged marriages, and that as in most cultures, women remain ambassadors of familial and social honour, there has been a great deal of stigma ascribed to a woman who seeks a divorce, or even goes through with a divorce.

Women are always stigmatized when the reasons for divorce are out in the open, and doubly so if these reasons tend to go against her, no matter how slightly. Society scrutinizes these reasons, passes judgment, and declare a character certificate as its understanding of a woman.  In a conservative-to-fairly-conservative society like Tamil Nadu, the value this judgment has is tremendous.

It closes doors on unfair conjecture on a woman’s liberated right to seek out of a marriage that she finds no happiness in.

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