Pitfalls of Divorce Proceedings in India: Perfect Statistics and the Noisy Current of the Ganges

India is officially considered to have one of the lowest divorce rates in the world. Indeed, if we rely on cold figures and statistical studies, it turns out that in India, only about 1% of all married couples end their joint family life with a dissolution of marriage.

This indicator is immeasurably small compared to the average statistics for the United States in recent years, where more than 45% of official marriages end in divorce.

But is everything so perfect in India with citizen morale and super strong ties in married couples and families? What is the reason for such impressive statistics, and is everything so transparent with the divorce legislation in the country today?

What is the Ideal Statistic for Indian Married Couples on the Verge of Divorce?

One of the main reasons to believe that the aspects of legal divorce algorithms in India are not transparent is the lack of clear regulations for registering marriages.

Divorce lawyer Alisha Peres thinks the rates are low due to the huge amount of unregistered marriages. “Since I joined the bar in 2013, I have seen an increase in the number of cases. We find people of all ages, young couples and older ones whose children are financially independent - come in either for an inquiry or to file for divorce.” In fact, many marriages in India are still not officially registered today.

At the same time, family attorney Vasudha N R says that, for example, in Bengaluru, there are six or seven family courts now, whereas there were only two in 2000. “Though we may have the lowest rate in the world, we definitely have a large number of unhappy marriages. The stigma attached to the definition of divorce is one of the biggest reasons people continue in them,” she added, analyzing the reasons on the topic.

Social Taboos and Fears as the Barriers for more Clear Divorce Management

Some social taboos in India against divorce can also be a problem. Shreya Chatterjee, a counseling psychologist, comments: “In an arranged marriage, family pressure is too much for couples to bear. Even when parents realize they have made the wrong choice, they find it easier to force their children to stay in a marriage than admit their mistake.”

In many parts of the world today, auxiliary tools can help spouses greatly simplify legal divorce procedures. This includes the option to qualify the divorce case as uncontested and many useful internet services that help to prepare the documents for filing for divorce.

Bob Butterworth, chief executive officer of CompleteCase.com, which provides users from the USA and Canada with top information support related to divorce procedures and ready-made court-approval forms for filing, says that despite the considerable potential of the Indian segment, there are certain difficulties to fully entering the market today.

“It is complicated to introduce any innovations in the area that we are trying to make better and more convenient for millions of people. Each country and direction that is new to us has its unique peculiarities and mentality of users. Nevertheless, we are full of optimism. We hope to integrate as much as possible into India, taking into account the local rules of the game,” commented Bob.

Prohibition of Marriage Contracts and Other Difficulties of Local Divorce Cases

The de facto rejection of prenuptial agreements between spouses at the legislative level in India also does not add clarity to the management of the processes. Such agreements are not legally tenable in India as the law doesn't consider marriage as a contract.

A prenuptial agreement between spouses is quite common in developed countries. Unfortunately, in India, there is no official compromise solution on the issue of legitimizing such documents. Supreme Court rulings say that any contract that has marriage as an object is null and void.

Returning to the recent history of this issue, some time ago in India, attempts were made to regulate marriage contracts, as an option, at the legislative level. However, such initiatives of some officials did not find wide support. About five years ago, Maneka Gandhi, who performed the duties as the minister for women and child development, recommended D.V. Sadananda Gowda, then minister for law and justice, to make prenuptial agreements mandatory before marriage.

At that time, Maneka Gandhi highly recommended the government to recognize the contracts as legitimate since many Indian women from low socio-economic backgrounds have to fight endless battles over alimony, marital ownership of property, and assets during divorce.

While prenuptial agreements are not legally tenable in India, some business families still draw one. It is to offer clarity to the wife on what she would get in case of a divorce. Business families want to retain control of the business. Hence, a prenuptial agreement may have some persuasive value if the divorce turns into a court battle as it can avoid couples taking advantage of each other.

In a prenuptial agreement, both husband and wife state their assets, liabilities, insurance, and other financial aspects. They also specify the share and maintenance a wife would get in case of divorce. It can even go to the extent of stating the amount that the husband would offer to the wife if they have children.