12 Legal Reasons For Divorce That Indians Should Know About

Here we have listed 12 legal reasons for divorce under Indian laws.

Reasons For Divorce


Either Party may file a petition under Section 13(1)(i) of Indian Marriage Act, 1955 on the ground of adultery. Section 10 of the Indian Marriage Act defines adultery, and it is a ground of Divorce under Section 13(1) of the Act. Earlier, the provision of adultery was penalising provisions under Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC), but, now it is not. As per the judgment in Joseph Shine v. Union of India (UOI), now section 497 IPC is declared unconstitutional, and thus it is not punishable. However, this serves to be a ground for Divorce in India. The divorce petition shall fulfil the essentials, which are:

  • Sexual intercourse outside the marriage.
  • Intercourse voluntary in nature.


Either of the spouses can file a divorce petition under Section 13(1)(ia) on the ground of cruelty. The concept of cruelty was earlier in Section 10(1)(b) of the old Hindu Marriage Act, 1955. This also finds a place in Section 498A of Indian Penal Code, 1860. Cruelty is also covered under the Domestic Violence Act. Quarrels or any other annoyance caused by either partner generally is not cruelty. Cruelty can be of two types:


Physical cruelty means subjecting the spouse to violence which may inflict any bodily injury. And, the bodily injury is of such that it is dangerous to the life of spouse, grievous, or inflicts pain. Any member from the family of the husband can also be convicted for the same.


Harassment for dowry or any type of coercion which leads to disturbance in the mental health of the woman.

Other than Mental and Physical, any act which makes it difficult for either partner to live with the other partner is cruelty.


Section 13(1)(ib) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 defines desertion as a ground for divorce. When the spouse leaves the other spouse after marriage and stays separated, it is desertion. However, the ground of desertion is valid for filing the divorce petition if:

  • separation period is not less than two years;
  • there is no consummation for two years;
  • desertion is with the intent to abandon; and
  • desertion is continuous and without consent.


Under Section 13(1)(ii), if either spouse adopts another religion after solemnization of marriage (Hindu Marriage), the other spouse can file a divorce petition on the ground. In other words, if either of the spouses adopts other religion, it is a ground for divorce. Mere participation in some other religion is not conversion. However, if there is a relinquishment of the Hindu religion entirely.

Unsoundness of mind

Divorce can be filed, if either spouse suffers from insanity and is thereby unfit to live together. Such ground is under Section 13(1)(iii) of the Act. The Ground of unsoundness of mind can only be taken when sound spouse reasonably cannot reside with the unsound spouse.


Schizophrenia is a condition when a person suffers from a split personality, and this can also be a ground for divorce. In this condition, the petition is filed under Section 13(1)(iii) of the Act which covers such mental illness. If a person suffers from continuous or intermittent stages of such mental illness then, divorce can be taken.

Virulent and incurable leprosy

In the case where either of the spouses suffers from leprosy which is incurable and harmful, this serves as a ground for divorce. The ground for such divorce petition is under Section 13(1)(iv) of the Act.

Venereal disease in a communicable form

When either spouse suffers from a venereal disease which is in a communicable form, it is a legal reason for divorce. Venereal diseases are diseases which can be sexually transmitted. It is a ground for divorce under Section 13(1)(v) of the Act.

Entering new religious order

One of the partners renounces the world by entering into religious order provides a legal reason for divorce. This is a ground of divorce only if the renouncement is absolute. This means that the renouncement is of the rights and liabilities related to any property.

Presumption of death

There can be a presumption of death by the court while granting ex parte decree. According to Section 13(1)(vii), if the person is not heard to be alive by the person who in a usual course would have heard about his existence, then the court presumes the person to be dead. This serves to be a ground for divorce.

Mutual Consent and compliance with a decree of judicial separation

When the couple approaches the court for divorce by mutual consent under section 13-B of the Act, the court may grant the same. The court may pass a divorce under section 13-A if the court deems it fit. However, there may be chances when the court may order judicial separation for one year or 6 months. But, if the couple is already living separately for more than a year then, the court after recording its reasons may order divorce decree.

Non-compliance with a decree of restitution of conjugal rights

Under Section 23(1)(a) of the Act, the court can pass a decree for divorce if there is no compliance of the decree of restitution of conjugal rights. If the couple after restitution of conjugal rights, does not consummate the relationship within a year, then it forms a legal reason for divorce.


Marriage is an integral part of Indian Culture. But, due to genuine concerns and dynamic society it has lead to divorces. The rise in divorces has brought the difficulties faced by couples in this generation. Summing up in 12 grounds, it is not enough to bring the challenges before the general public. Instead, the actual problems hide behind the curtain of biased laws that are to be reformed persists as issues. These issues are slowly answered. However, the concept of marital rape is the biggest problem that has to be resolved by the judiciary. The only hope is that with the change in time, this question of marital rape shall also be answered soon.

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by Aniruddha Malik

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