Many U.S. states, including Florida, have a waiting period before you can divorce your spouse. In India, the Supreme Court just ruled that it can enter a divorce without a waiting period in cases of irretrievable breakdown of marriage.
India Divorce Waiting Period
The Supreme Court’s judgment relates to a 2014 case filed in the top court, titled Shilpa Sailesh vs. Varun Sreenivasan, where the parties sought a divorce under Article 142 of the Indian Constitution.
The procedure to obtain a divorce by mutual consent is laid down in Indian law, which states that both parties can file a petition for dissolution of their marriage by presenting a decree of divorce to the district court, on the grounds that they have been living separately for a year or more or that they have not been able to live together or have mutually agreed to dissolve their marriage.
However, both parties seeking divorce have to wait between 6 to 18 months from the date on which they presented their petition to obtain the divorce decree. The waiting period for divorce is given so that the parties have ample time to withdraw their plea.
After the passage of the mandated period and hearing both parties, if the court is satisfied, it may conduct an inquiry and pass a decree of divorce, dissolving the marriage with effect from the date of the decree. However, these provisions apply when at least one year has elapsed since the marriage took place.
Additionally, divorce can be sought by either spouse on grounds like adultery, cruelty, desertion, religious conversion, insanity, leprosy, venereal disease, renunciation, and presumption of death. In circumstances of exceptional hardship or depravity, a divorce petition may be allowed under Section 14, even before the lapse of one year since marriage.
Florida Divorce Waiting Period
I’ve written about divorce waiting periods, and your rights in divorce before. Like India and other states, Florida also has a divorce waiting period of sorts. Although it’s not as long as other states or India’s six to 18 month policy. In Florida, no final judgment of dissolution of marriage may be entered until at least 20 days have elapsed from the date of filing the original petition for dissolution of marriage.
The thinking behind waiting periods in Florida reflects the protective regard Florida holds toward the preservation of marriage and a public policy that marriage is the foundation of home and family.
In some cases the waiting period is longer. For instance, no dissolutions in Florida are allowed in cases of an incapacitated spouse unless the party alleged to be incapacitated has been adjudged incapacitated for a preceding period of at least 3 years. However, the court, on a showing that injustice would result from this delay, may enter a final judgment of dissolution of marriage at an earlier date.
Patience is a virtue, impatience a vice
In India, the mandatory six-month waiting period under can also be waived by filing an exemption application before a family court in a motion for the court to pass a decree of divorce. The high court has ruled:
“Where there is a chance of reconciliation, however slight, the cooling period of six months from the date of filing of the divorce petition should be enforced. However, if there is no possibility of reconciliation, it would be meaningless to prolong the agony of the parties to the marriage.”
Accordingly, if a marriage has broken down irretrievably, the spouses have been living apart for a long time unable to reconcile their differences, and then they mutually decided to part, it is better to end the marriage to enable both spouses to move on with their lives, the court said.
While the parties can approach the family courts for initiation of divorce proceedings, this process is often time-consuming and lengthy, owing to a large number of similar cases pending before such courts. If the parties wish to opt for a divorce more expeditiously, they can approach the Supreme Court for the dissolution of their marriage.
The Indian Supreme Court also aims to clarify whether the application of its powers would extend to all divorce cases; and whether it could be used in cases where one of the parties is not consenting to the divorce. For this, the court appointed senior advocates for assistance in the case.
The Indian Express article is here.