I am being harassed in my arranged marriage. What can I do?

If you are being harassed in your marriage, then you can file for divorce on the grounds of cruelty. If you have been married under Hindu law then your divorce will also be governed by the same law. You can divorce your spouse only based on the reasons specified in the law. It is harder to seek a divorce simply only on the grounds that you no longer wish to remain married without it matching any reasons recognized by the law. However, it is possible to get a divorce if you and your spouse mutually consent to it. Divorce can take place if the husband or wife brings a petition to the Court based on the recognized reasons.


Though prenuptial agreements are not legally validated under religious Hindu marriage law, a prenuptial agreement can be legally enforceable as per contract law in India. A contractual prenuptial agreement should follow the legal rules of contracts given under the Indian Contract Act , 1872. To be valid, the contract should not be contrary to law or public policy, so if the marriage is governed by the Hindu Marriage Act, the contract cannot have provisions that violate that law.

What does it mean to annul my marriage under Hindu law?

As you know, there are certain conditions for a valid Hindu marriage. When these legal requirements are not met, your marriage suffers from certain legal defects/problems. It has no legal validity and you can annul the marriage in a Court. There are two categories of legal defects in a marriage – ‘void’ and ‘voidable.’ It’s simple – a void marriage is automatically considered an invalid marriage from the very beginning and there is no need to annul it. On the other hand, a voidable marriage is legal until a Court says it is not. Once you have fulfilled conditions then your marriage can go back to being valid.

For example, marriages are void when the conditions of not having a spouse before getting married, you and spouse not falling within the category of “prohibited relationship” or “sapindas” are not followed. On the other hand, a marriage is voidable when your spouse is impotent.

My husband has filed for divorce on the grounds that I have deserted him. However, the truth is that I was forced to leave and go to my parents house because he was physically abusing me. What can I do under Hindu law?

The law allows for situations where one spouse is forced to withdraw from the company of the other. For instance, in a situation where your spouse is treating you with cruelty – either mentally or physically – it would be considered reasonable for you to leave them. Therefore, while considering your spouse’s petition for divorce will be decided upon after taking into consideration your reasons for leaving his company.

Are there any reasons for Hindu divorce that are solely available to women?

Yes, the law allows women to file for divorce against their husbands in the following instances:

  • When the husband remarries before getting a divorce or in the lifetime of the first wife.
  • Where after getting married, husband has been held guilty of rape, sodomy or bestiality.
  • When husband and wife have been living apart for one year after the Court has instructed the husband to pay maintenance.
  • When the woman is married off before she turns 15 years and she wants to end the marriage.

What do Courts consider as a ‘valid Hindu marriage’ before granting a divorce?

In order to grant a divorce, one of the first things that the Court checks is if they were in a marriage that was legally valid i.e. a subsisting marriage. The Court can only grant a divorce if the marriage legally existed. So, it checks if your marriage existed as per the law to go forward with divorce proceedings.

For example, Bhavana and Amit are in a live-in relationship. Bhavana cannot file a divorce against Amit as they are not in a “subsisting marriage” since they have not gone through the marital ceremonies or registered their marriage under the law.

Which Court do you approach to file your case for Hindu divorce?

You have to file your case in the Family Court in your District. However, consult your lawyer before filing the case.

There may be situations where a particular District does not have a Family court. In these situations, the District Judge or a Civil Judge appointed by the State Government will perform the same functions as a Family Court judge.

Do Courts use video conferencing during a Hindu divorce case?

Recently, many Courts have been using videoconferencing for matrimonial and divorce cases because it is hard for the parties to travel to another city just for the case. So, Courts have said that only after the husband and wife have discussed problems such as property, custody etc. and it has failed, that the case can proceed by the use of video conferencing. Further, both spouses have to consent to the use of video conferencing.