That morning, I began my day as usual but what happened was something unusual. A young, well-to-do couple walked in quite happily into the chamber. They looked sophisticated and in sync with each other. It's funny how we leap to conclusion about other people by the way they speak or dress but it's the sad reality of the lives we lead now, isn't it?
A Happy Couple: Is it a Myth?
Coming back to my story, I expected they wanted some advice about a rented home, or something on those lines. Agreements, that kind of stuff. What they asked with smiling faces was for a divorce. That truly stumped me. I couldn't imagine why they looked so united and happy about it. Of course, I have dealt with a variety of divorce cases but this is the first of its kind that was so 'urban and cultured' from start to end.
India, we now say is a very liberal, cosmopolitan country despite a lot of confusing bundles of personal laws for its citizens. The result is chaos for the parties concerned because each Indian citizen is governed by his/her personal laws relating to marriage and divorce.
For Hindus, they are governed by the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955. which grants divorce based on grounds such as Cruelty, Bigamy, Adultery, Renunciation, Desertion, and so on. The Muslims are governed by their personal laws under which marriage is "Nikah" meaning, a contract. For Parsis, they are governed by the Parsee Marriage & Divorce Act, 1939 and for Christians, there is the Indian Christian Marriage Act 1889. Persons of different caste or any religion can marry under the Special Marriage Act, 1954 and remain governed by this Act. There are certain penal provisions also in the Criminal Procedure Code providing for the maintenance of the wife and punishment for bigamy.
How does this sound? It sounds like I'm about to make a pot of money. The truth is that I don't enjoy watching couples let go of their life and dreams any more than their families do. The truth is that I try very hard to understand what their mutual gray areas of perceived weaknesses are and then guide them to look inward to find solutions to those problems, rather than run off to the nearest lawyer for divorce. The best lawyers are always focused on finding solutions for the client rather than letting the clients go ahead and demand what they believe is the best solution.
Believe it or not, divorce rates are multiplying in India. Delhi tops the list, followed by Mumbai and Bangalore. Even traditional Kerala is not far behind.
So, how did I deal with this happy couple?
First, I tried to first help them see whether they can look back on the difficult areas in their life and make light and sense of those depressing realities but they were firm. They do not want anything but a divorce -- smooth and easy. They said they were not compatible as man and wife and could not live together under the same roof any longer.
The end is no longer the stuff that fairy tales continue with, "....and they lived happily ever after."
The changing lifestyles and perspectives of this country need to redefine and make a new amendment to the conventional fairy tale like this: "............and they lived happily divorced ever after."