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Legal Tips - Divorce Laws Related To NRI

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There is a growing trend for Indian women or men to get married to NRIs. The desire to settle in a foreign country for better quality of life inspires Indians to tie knots with NRI brides and grooms. Thousands of women from metros get married to NRIs every year, and a percentage of them are either deserted by husbands or want to end their marriage due to reasons of deception or hiding facts. In light of this it is very important for Indians who get married to NRIs to keep an idea of laws related to NRI divorce.

The trend of marrying NRIs is very much prevalent in the state of Punjab. National Commission for Women says there are 15,000 women deserted by NRIs in Punjab alone. There are lots of Punjabis settled abroad. The parents of these Punjabi boys and girls insist their children on getting their spouses from India so that a cultural continuity is maintained. In fact the parents of the boys who are settled outside India ask a lot of dowry from the girl’s family, and the family manages to pay any amount for marrying their daughters to NRIs. However, many of such marriages end in divorce. Some common situations that lead to divorce are:

  • The NRI spouse already has another spouse, and in some cases children also, settled with him abroad. In most of the cases the groom does not take the bride with him leaving her behind with parents. But when the reality is disclosed the girl’s family seeks divorce for their daughter. 

  • The NRI spouses exaggerate about their possessions in the foreign country - home, vehicle, high paying job, but actually might not be in a position tosupport a family after marriage. 

  • The lifestyle of the NRI spouse is too much advanced for the Indian spouse to keep pace with him or her. The NRI spouse feels that he or she is not suitable as a partner and seeks divorce on the grounds of incompatibility.

Whatever may be the reason for divorce, a person who has married an NRI should be aware of the basic laws related to NRI divorce.

  • If both the spouses are Indians and have been married under Hindu marriage Act of 1955 they can seek divorce with mutual consent under section 13-b that provides for divorce by mutual consent. 

  • If both the spouses are residing in USA, or any other foreign country, then they can seek divorce by mutual consent under the country’s divorce laws related to foreign marriages. The Indian legal system will recognize the divorce only if it is with the consent of both the parties. For those in the US, check out Frequently Asked Questions -- An extensive discussion of divorce in the United States, covering Annulment, Separation, types of divorce, legal rights, property division, alimony, child custody and support, and immigration issues. Also Divorce Laws of the Fifty States, District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Cornell Law School web site.

There are not many laws that protect the interest of Indians married to NRIs. However, due to rise in the number of troubled marriages among Indians and NRIs, the government is initiating non government organizations in India and abroad. These organizations give advice to Indian men and women who are married to NRIs and residing in abroad. They offer counseling, legal advice, and moral support in event of divorce and separation. 

Even if the divorce is taking place in abroad it would be good to appoint an attorneywho is proficient in dealing with Indian divorce laws related to NRIs.

Prompted by the increasing incidents of girls who marry non-resident Indians being ill-treated, the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs, Government of India has drawn up guidelines for people who want their daughters married abroad. Check out the section on How to marry an NRI, safely

NRI DivorceŽ 2006-2010