Monday, December 6, 2010

New-age couples take MoU path to break free

New-age couples take MoU path to break free

HYDERABAD: In a curious trend unfolding at the city family courts, new-age couples are citing seemingly contradictory clauses in their divorce petitions to break free from their unsuccessful marriages. This, say advocates, is increasingly being based on a memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed between the estranged spouses a few days before they approach the family court seeking legal intervention to end their marriage. "The MoUs are entered into with the sole purpose to catalysing a fast divorce," said a lawyer.

Often times under the MoU, the spouse filing the divorce petition is given a free hand to take refuge under any clause which will help the court declare their marriage as null and void. At the same time, the other partner chooses to remain unavailable for court proceedings thereby ensuring that a legal end to their marriage is pronounced at the earliest.

"By failing to turn up at the court for hearings, the other party shows his or her unwillingness to mend their marriage following which the court usually grants a legal separation without much delay," says P Sundaraiah, senior advocate at Hyderabad family court. A recent petition filed at this court had cited non-consummation of marriage and impotency of the partner as the grounds to declare the marriage null and void under Section 12 of the Hindu Marriage Act.

"For a person to know the potency status of his or her partner, the marriage needs to be consummated first. But this seldom happens and the petitioners level two blatantly contradictory charges on their estranged spouse," says advocate Anita Jain of Secunderabad family court. While those filing it in agreement with their partners seldom face a problem, in many contested divorce cases, such contradictory charges have earned the petitioner a defamation suit. In one recent case, the husband of a woman seeking divorce on the ground of his impotency, filed a defamation case based on the medical report (which he came armed with to the court). Needless to say, the medical report dismissed charges of impotency levelled against him by his wife.
Reacting to such petitions, the courts often call for an independent medical test to verify the authenticity of the partner's claim. But on grounds of it being a sensitive matter, people often refuse to undergo the test, say advocates.
A section of the lawyers, however, reason in favour of pressing such charges in one petition in genuine cases. "Clubbing these two clauses together goes on to make the case stronger. Behavioural patterns are often an indication of the impotency of spouses, and claiming a marriage dissolution on grounds of non-consummation stand perfectly justified in such cases," says Nischala Siddha Reddy, advocate at Secunderabad family court.

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