Divorce indicates the ending of the marriage by a competent court, based on the grounds for divorce that a particular individual puts forward.
A Non-Resident Indian (NRI) is a native of India who holds an Indian passport and has temporarily immigrated to another nation for six months or more for employment, residence, education or any other purpose. ‘NRI marriages’, as generally understood, are between an Indian woman from India and an Indian man residing in another country (thus NRI), but it can be vice-versa as well.
In India, it is a growing trend to get married to NRIs. The desire to settle in a foreign country inspires Indians to tie knots with NRI brides and grooms. A marriage between the parties one of whom at least is a citizen of India, under which the NRI marriage commonly comes, will be solemnized under the following laws.
- The Hindu Marriage Act, 1955: If the couple got married in traditional Hindu manner and had lived a considerable part of their matrimonial life in India.
- The Indian Special Marriages Act, 1954: The Indian Special Marriage Act 1954 permits marriages between persons who are not of the same community or who have different religions or nationalities. The scope of the Act includes the entire territory of India and extends to intending spouses who are both Indian nationals living abroad.
- The Foreign Marriages Act, 1969: In the case where one or both the spouse belong to India, and they solemnize their marriage in some other India. In case of divorce, the couple may approach the court as per the provisions in the statute which applies to them.
The following can be the grounds for divorce for a spouse whose partner is staying abroad:
- At times, the NRI husband already has another spouse settled abroad with them. They get married in India for dowry and never take their spouses along. Later, on realising the reality, the girl’s family seeks a divorce
- The NRI spouse inflates their possessions in a foreign country such as home, vehicle, highly paid job but in reality, they are not in a position to support the abroad after marriage. The spouse, on knowing this, generally asks for a divorce.
- In many cases, the NRI spouse has a lifestyle which becomes practically impossible to be accepted or followed by the other partner. This leads to disagreements, and that leads to a divorce
In other cases, the NRI spouse may seek grounds for divorce, if
- The partner resident abroad is cheating on the NRI partner.
- If the other spouse cannot possibly ever come to visit because of some legal issue.
- There is a cultural difference between the couple which is creating problems in marital life.
A person who is married to an NRI or an NRI who is married to an India citizen under Indian law and is seeking some grounds for divorce has the following legal recourse:
- If both the spouses are Indian and have been married under Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 then they can seek divorce with mutual consent under section 13-B that provides for divorce by mutual agreement.
- If both the spouses are residing abroad, then they can seek a divorce by mutual consent under the country’s divorce laws related to foreign marriages and the same will be recognised in India if proper procedure was followed with mutual consent.
There are not many laws that protect the interest of Indians married to NRIs. However, there is a steep rise in the number of troubled marriages among Indians and NRIs; the government is now initiating a few non- government organizations in India and abroad to guide Indians who are married to NRIs and residing abroad. They offer counselling, legal advice, and moral support in the event of divorce and separation. The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) also has a scheme for providing legal and financial assistance to Indian women deserted by their foreigner husbands.
Check more relevant: Can a divorce be filed outside India if the marriage takes place in India?