Bombay HC announces 6 months cooling period before divorce

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There must be a cooling period of six months before a couple can be deem eligible for divorce, ruled the Bombay High Court on Friday, adding that the cooling period must be there even after the consent terms are signed by both parties.

The court delivered the verdict while hearing a woman’s plea challenging a family court order claiming that she was under pressure while signing the consent terms and therefore, now wanted to re-think her divorce.

The division bench comprising Justices AR Joshi and VK Tahilramani set aside the family court ruling that granted divorce to the couple within a month after they had signed the consent terms. The bench further stated that it was not without a reason that the six-month cooling period was clearly mentioned in the Hindu Marriage Act.

“The period of six months contemplated by law for giving effect to the application filed by consent under section 13B of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, is with some specific logic as to give room to either party to withdraw from the consent, if such a necessity occurs, within six months from the lodging of the application,” observed the bench.

Apparently, the husband of the appellant had appealed for a divorce in 2013. The couple had signed the consent terms on February 14, 2014 and their divorce was granted shortly thereafter. As per the consent terms agreed on by both parties, the husband was to get the full custody of their daughter while the wife got visitation rights. In addition, the husband was to deposit INR 1.11 crore with the court as alimony which the wife could claim only after the divorce was finalized.

However, on March 1, 2014, the husband appealed with a new application seeking dissolution of marriage by consent which was later approved by the family court on July 30. The counsels representing the husband argued that the wife had not honored the consent terms by not giving away full custody of the child.

“If it is accepted that the said consent terms were arrived at with full consent and knowledge, still, all the clauses in the consent terms should have been given effect prior to putting an end to the matrimonial tie, specifically on the basis of the consent terms and giving full custody of the child in favour of the husband,” observed the bench.

After the HC verdict, now the case will be heard by the family court afresh.