A beginner’s guide to Divorce

No hurry to marry

Does your blood pressure climb at the mere thought of your soulmate? Are you worried you are this close to throwing more than accusation and abuses in the direction of your once-upon-a-time sweetheart? Does your bed quiver, not from the delights of matrimony but convulsions of your rage as you plot and plan the annihilation of the sacred bond-age?

Whatever variety of marital angst you are experiencing, the dreaded D-word must have popped into your head.

But the thing to know about divorce is that while it usually takes birth in a cauldron of roiling emotions, getting one requires Machiavellian-style mental calisthenics and Mahatma Gandhi-level patience.

Also, it needs a lawyer and tons of money.

But before you venture into the toughest venture you ever will probably, you need to know the ABC of how to get through D.

Not to worry if you are an utter novice. We shall tell you all you need to know about the journey you are fantasising about (psst…..it’s a roller-coaster). We begin with ‘A for Apple, B for Ball’ level primer. Caveat – this happens only in India. (not divorce; this particular version of marital bond-busting.)

The beginning of the end

Broken heart

Divorces are of two types: Mutual and Contested. For Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists and Jains.

Muslims, Christians, and Parsis have their own divorce laws. If a couple is half-this and half-that, they go to war under the Special Marriage Act.

Under the Hindu Marriage Act, mutual consent is when you’re both sick of each other and can’t wait to run as far away as possible and as quickly as possible. In other words, you both want it and want it like NOW. Except, it won’t happen. Sowwy. Cause marriage is sacred and it is the court’s bounden duty to give your hapless soul another chance to figure out if it really wants to escape Gulag.

First you reconsider

Shared custody
Amicable divorce

So, the first thing to know is that you can’t file for mutual unless you can prove you’ve been separated for a year. Meaning, that you weren’t really into each other for over 12 months. Literally, not metaphorically.

After you file for mutual consent, the court will give you 6 more months to see if you can flog a dying horse to life. If you can’t, and you’ve managed to agree with your not-yet-ex on pesky little matters like alimony, child custody and property, then you are good to go. You get your divorce decree and you can walk into the sunset unscathed.

Related reading: I almost got a divorce and then realised I wanted him back

The other type of divorce is the nasty type. One partner files for divorce and the other contests it. Quite a no-brainer, no, how that goes? Think WWE.

This is how it plays out.

Or war begins

Lawyer thinking it is too late to mediate in a duel
Sometimes divorce is war

You want a divorce and your partner is unwilling. You find a good lawyer and tell them all that’s wrong with your marriage and why you must be released from its shackles. Mind you, only 15 types of shackles are recognised by law, aka, grounds for divorce. If you qualify for one, the lawyer drafts a divorce petition, attaches relevant documents and files the petition. Within a week or two, or three, depending on the traffic jam in courts, your lawyer will tell the court why you need to be set free. If the court agrees, a notice will be sent to your spouse. Time to tie your seatbelt.

Your spouse responds to all your allegations and accusations and you both enter the tareekh pe tareekh phase. Punch for punch phase too.

Meaning, the time when you run around the court for, legally speaking, ‘recording of evidence, and examination and cross-examination of the petitioner (you) and the respondent (spouse)’.

Weapons of mass destruction

vector of man woman fighting
… and it could get uglier

Accusations and counter accusations fly, proofs for all manner of infractions are conjured, documents are produced and blood pressures go nuts. You also slug out the big, scary monsters –maintenance, alimony, custody, and property.

This phase is most critical, as it can decide your fate and it’s also the time when you need maximum stamina, energy, patience and meditation. This phase can last for as long as your ego or your almost ex-partner’s stamina. Or vice versa.

In the penultimate phase, the lawyers present closing arguments. The court then gives a date to announce it’s decision. On the D-Day, if you agree with the court’s decision, great! If you don’t, you file an appeal within 3 months of the order. And it begins again.

How about annulment?

heart wooden heart symbol love
…the illusive annulment

While Divorces dissolve marriages, Annulments declare them null and void. The grounds for the latter are different though. No matter how desperately you wish to press the ctrl-alt-del button, you cannot file for annulment unless there’s fraud, bigamy (a secret spouse stashed away somewhere), pregnancy by someone other than the husband, impotence pre-dating marriage, mental incompetence at the time of marriage, etc. in the mix. No surprise, annulments are rare.

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