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This articles gives you guide about Divorce Options For NRI’s Married Under Special Marriage Act. Navigating through the complexities of divorce can be challenging, especially for Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) who were married under the Special Marriage Act, 1954, in India. This article aims to elucidate the divorce options available under Indian law for NRIs, ensuring clarity and guidance through the legal landscape.

Understanding the Special Marriage Act, 1954

Key Features of the Special Marriage Act

The Special Marriage Act, 1954, is a secular law allowing Indians and NRIs to marry irrespective of their religion or faith. It provides a unique framework for marriage and divorce, catering to the diverse social fabric of India.

Applicability to NRIs

For NRIs, this Act is particularly significant as it offers a legal route for marrying in India without religious ceremonies. Marriages registered under this Act are recognized worldwide, making it a preferred choice for many.

Divorce Options for NRIs Married Under the Special Marriage Act in India

Grounds for Divorce

The Act specifies several grounds for divorce, including adultery, cruelty, desertion for two years, conversion to another religion, unsound mind, leprosy, venereal disease, renunciation of the world, and not being heard of as being alive for seven years. Mutual consent is also a recognized ground, simplifying the process for amicable separations.

Procedure for Filing for Divorce

The procedure involves filing a petition in the family court of the jurisdiction where the marriage was registered or where the couple last resided together. NRIs need to consider the jurisdiction carefully, as it impacts the convenience and logistics of attending court proceedings.

Special Considerations for NRIs

Legal Representation and Power of Attorney

NRIs can appoint a lawyer in India to represent them, minimizing the need for personal appearances. A specific power of attorney may be granted to someone in India to act on their behalf, streamlining the process significantly.

Jurisdiction Challenges

One of the primary challenges for NRIs is the jurisdiction of filing the divorce petition. Legal advice should be sought to determine the most appropriate jurisdiction, balancing between the place of marriage registration, last residence as a couple, and current residence.

Mutual Consent Divorce

Mutual consent divorce is a streamlined option for NRIs, requiring both parties to agree on terms such as alimony, child custody, and property division. It typically involves fewer court appearances, making it a preferred route for many.

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Financial and Custody Considerations

Alimony and Maintenance

The court considers several factors when deciding on alimony and maintenance, including the spouse’s income, standard of living, and the circumstances leading to the divorce.

Child Custody

In custody matters, the child’s welfare is the paramount consideration. Courts tend to favor joint custody arrangements, ensuring the child maintains a strong relationship with both parents.


Divorce for NRIs married under the Special Marriage Act in India involves navigating through specific legal procedures and considerations. Understanding the applicable laws, grounds for divorce, and the procedural nuances can significantly ease the process. Seeking professional legal advice is crucial in addressing the unique challenges faced by NRIs, ensuring that the divorce proceedings are conducted smoothly and efficiently.

FAQs: Divorce Options For NRI’s Married Under Special Marriage Act

What is the Special Marriage Act?

    • The Special Marriage Act, 1954, is an Indian law that provides a special form of marriage for the people of India and all Indian nationals in foreign countries, irrespective of the religion or faith followed by either party.
  1. Can NRIs married under the Special Marriage Act file for divorce?
    • Yes, NRIs married under the Special Marriage Act can file for divorce, provided they meet the legal requirements as per Indian laws and the jurisdiction they are applying in.
  2. What are the grounds for divorce under the Special Marriage Act?
    • Grounds for divorce include adultery, cruelty, desertion for two years, conversion to another religion, unsoundness of mind, leprosy, venereal disease, renouncement of the world, and not being heard of as being alive for seven years.
  3. Can an NRI file for divorce from abroad?
    • Yes, an NRI can file for divorce from abroad by giving a power of attorney to a relative or lawyer in India, who can file the divorce petition on their behalf.
  4. Is mutual consent divorce possible for NRIs under the Special Marriage Act?
    • Yes, mutual consent divorce is possible and is usually quicker. Both parties must agree to the divorce terms, including alimony, child custody, and property division.
  5. What is the residency requirement for filing a divorce under the Special Marriage Act?
    • At least one of the parties must reside in the jurisdiction of the court where the divorce petition is to be filed for not less than three months before filing.
  6. How long does it take to get a divorce under the Special Marriage Act for NRIs?
    • The duration varies based on whether it is a contested or mutual consent divorce, ranging from 6-18 months for mutual consent to several years for contested cases.
  7. Can NRIs marry someone else in a different country without getting divorced under the Special Marriage Act?
    • No, doing so would be considered bigamy, which is illegal and punishable under Indian law as well as potentially under the laws of the other country.
  8. What is the process for filing a divorce under the Special Marriage Act for NRIs?
    • The process involves filing a petition at the family court within the jurisdiction of the couple’s last residence in India or where the marriage was registered, providing grounds for the divorce, and following legal proceedings.
  9. Are foreign divorce decrees recognized in India for marriages under the Special Marriage Act?
    • Foreign divorce decrees are generally recognized in India if granted by a court of competent jurisdiction and following principles of natural justice, but may require ratification by an Indian court in some cases.
  10. What is the role of mediation in NRI divorce cases under the Special Marriage Act?
    • Mediation is often encouraged to resolve disputes amicably, especially in cases of mutual consent divorce, to reach a faster and less contentious resolution.
  11. Can an NRI get custody of children under the Special Marriage Act?
    • Custody decisions are made based on the child’s best interests, with courts considering factors like the child’s age, parent’s financial stability, and emotional bond with the child.
  12. What happens to property owned in India in case of divorce for NRIs?
    • Property division is based on the couple’s mutual agreement or court’s decision, taking into account contributions made by both parties and other relevant factors.
  13. Is alimony mandatory in NRI divorces under the Special Marriage Act?
    • Alimony is not mandatory but can be awarded based on the spouse’s need, the other spouse’s ability to pay, and the lifestyle during the marriage.
  14. Can NRIs file for divorce in India without their spouse’s consent?
    • Yes, one can file for a contested divorce on valid grounds if the other spouse does not consent to the divorce.
  15. What documents are needed to file for divorce for NRIs under the Special Marriage Act?
    • Required documents typically include marriage certificate, proof of residence, proof of identity, income statements, and any evidence supporting the grounds for divorce.
  16. How can an NRI serve a divorce notice to a spouse living in India?
    • A divorce notice can be served through a lawyer, by registered post, or through the court, ensuring it reaches the spouse legally and formally.
  17. Can a spouse refuse to accept a divorce under the Special Marriage Act?
    • A spouse can contest the divorce, leading to a contested divorce proceeding where both parties present their case, and the court makes a decision.
  18. What are the financial implications of divorce for NRIs under the Special Marriage Act?
    • Financial implications include alimony, child support, and division of assets, which are determined based on various factors including the couple’s financial status and contributions.
  19. How can an NRI enforce a child support order in India?
    • Child support orders can be enforced through the Indian legal system, and non-compliance can result in legal penalties including contempt of court.
  20. What if an NRI’s spouse has justify the country to avoid divorce proceedings?
    • Legal options include filing for divorce in absentia, where the court allows the case to proceed if the spouse cannot be located or refuses to participate.
  21. Can NRIs opt for an annulment instead of a divorce under the Special Marriage Act?
    • Yes, annulment is possible if the marriage is void or voidable under the law, based on specific grounds such as fraud, impotence, or forced consent.
  22. What is the impact of divorce on NRI immigration status?
    • The impact varies by country and individual circumstances; it’s advisable to consult an immigration lawyer to understand specific implications.
  23. How does remarriage work for NRIs after divorce under the Special Marriage Act?
    • NRIs can remarry after obtaining a legal divorce decree, ensuring they comply with both Indian laws and the laws of the country where the remarriage takes place.
  24. What are the psychological support options for NRIs going through a divorce?
    • Psychological support can be sought through counseling services, support groups, and mental health professionals, both in India and abroad.
  25. How can NRIs manage the stigma associated with divorce in Indian society?
    • Managing stigma involves seeking support from friends and family, engaging with supportive communities, and focusing on personal well-being and growth.
  26. What legal protections are available for women NRIs in divorce cases under the Special Marriage Act?
    • Legal protections include rights to alimony, child custody, and protection from domestic violence, with specific provisions under the law to safeguard women’s interests.
  27. Can NRIs change their divorce petition from contested to mutual consent?
    • Yes, parties can agree to convert a contested divorce into a mutual consent divorce if they reach an agreement on all disputed matters.
  28. What are the challenges NRIs face in divorce proceedings under the Special Marriage Act?
    • Challenges include long-distance legal processes, jurisdiction issues, enforcement of orders, and cultural and legal differences between countries.
  29. Where can NRIs find legal assistance for divorce proceedings under the Special Marriage Act?
    • NRIs can seek legal assistance from Indian embassies, legal firms specializing in NRI cases, or online legal services that offer advice and representation for Indian matrimonial laws.

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