The government is working to make laws friendlier to help unhappy couples get divorce faster.
The government wants changes in the Hindu Marriage Act of 1955 and Special Marriage Act of 1954 to provide ‘irretrievable breakdown of marriage’ as a new ground for parting ways.
As of now, a minimum of six and maximum of 18 months of reconciliation or cooling off period is a must even if divorce is sought with mutual consent.
An amendment bill likely to be considered by the union cabinet on Friday proposes to grant courts the power to reduce or waive off the cooling period.
“If the court is convinced of breakdown of marriage, divorce could be granted immediately,” said a senior government official.To save the "institution of marriage", a parliamentary standing committee did not want the cooling off period to be tampered with, but the government put the onus on the courts.
To safeguard the interests of women, however, the amendment bill gives them the right to oppose divorce petitions filed by husbands on grounds of irretrievable breakdown of marriage.
The women can argue that the divorce will cause financial hardships and affect their children’s future. Men will not have this right if wives seek divorce on the same ground.
Another amendment intends to recognise the rights of working women and homemakers on movable and immovable matrimonial property. The court will decide on the money a woman gets if the husband wants to keep the property.
Vrinda Grover, Supreme Court lawyer and specialist on women’s issues, said the proposed changes would make seeking divorce less cumbersome while protecting the interests of women.
For the first time, the proposed bill aims to grant adopted children the same rights as biological children.