Before we proceed on to the steps involved in filing for an annulment in India under the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, we need to understand what an annulment exactly means and how it is different from divorce as most of the times people do not understand the legalities involved in both these terms and, therefore, end up taking the wrong legal recourse which has repercussions.
What is the annulment of marriage?
Annulment of marriage renders the marriage literally non-existent. In a divorce, the spouses are ‘legally’ married, therefore, when a divorce decree is passed they become divorcees because the marriage between them was legal and now it has been terminated. However, when you get a marriage annulled then you are not tagged as ‘divorcees’ because an annulment wipes out the existence of the marriage and declares that there was no marriage to begin with between the concerned man and woman. However, not every couple can opt for an annulment as there are certain grounds on which an annulment can be sought and we will be discussing those grounds in the coming paragraphs.
Step by step procedure of getting an annulment in India
1. Find yourself the best divorce lawyers
You heard it, you need the best divorce lawyer in Chandigarh for fighting your case. Most importantly, it is the lawyer who will explain to you and make you understand if you are eligible for an annulment or not because, if you do not meet the requirements of annulment and you file the same in the court, it will be a waste of your time and resources. Further, if you are eligible for an annulment then a lawyer will guide you on the same and help you in not making the mistake of filing for a divorce.
2. Understand if you’re eligible for an annulment or not
This is an important and well, part and parcel of step 1. Marriages can be categorized (on the basis of their legality) into:
- Valid Marriages;
- Void Marriages; and
- Voidable Marriages.
Valid marriages, as the name suggests are marriages that are legal and recognized by law. Therefore, if your marriage falls into the above-mentioned category then divorce is the only way to terminate it. What is a valid marriage, you ask? Well, valid marriages are the ones that have been solemnized:
- Between two consenting adults, i.e. 18 years or above female and 21 years or above male;
- Neither of them has a spouse living at the time of marriage;
- Neither of them is within the prohibited degrees of relationship;
- Neither of them is sapindas of each other;
So, if your marriage fulfills all the above mentioned conditions then your marriage is a valid one and only divorce van terminate this marriage. However, if a marriage contravenes any of the above mentioned conditions then it is void marriage. Void marriages do not have legal validity and are prohibited by law in India. So, if a marriage is a void marriage then it is up to you whether you want to get a decree of nullity from a court or not.
Now coming to voidable marriages, these marriages are not in contravention of the above-mentioned conditions, but these marriages:
- The marriage could not be consummated owing to the impotence of either party;
- The consent taken during the marriage was given under unsoundness of mind;
- The wife was pregnant with someone else’s child when the marriage was solemnized;
- The consent during the marriage was taken by force or fraud.
If any of these conditions are existent during the solemnization of marriage then the suffering spouse can get an annulment from the court. But, the following conditions need to be kept in mind before filing a case for annulment of marriage:
a. If a year has passed since the concerned fraud or force came to your knowledge then you cannot file for an annulment;
b. If you were aware of the force and fraud but chose to stay with your spouse as husband and wife then also you cannot file for an annulment;
c. If you were aware of the wife’s pregnancy with someone else’s child and you still chose to marry her then also no case for annulment is made.
Pretty technical, right? Don’t fret as this can be made easier with the help of best lawyers in Chandigarh.
3. Determine the place of filing the case for annulment
The place for filing a case (whatsoever, the case may be) is very important because not every court is available at your disposal to entertain a case because every court has a certain jurisdiction. In case of matters under the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, a proceeding can be initiated in either of the following places:
a. The place where you were married.
b. The place where you and your spouse last resided together as husband and wife.
c. The place where the wife is presently residing.
d. In case of a presumption of death, i.e. the spouse has not been heard of or his/her whereabouts are unknown for up to seven years, then the place where you’re presently residing.
4. Provide all the details to your lawyer
You must not hide anything from your lawyer(s). Why? Because if you conceal material facts concerning your case from your lawyer(s) then there are chances of surprises in the courtroom that your lawyer might not be ready for and can render him/her perplexed owing to the fact that you chose to hide these things.
Further, there is no need to worry about telling things to your lawyer as whatever you say is strictly confidential and the lawyer(s) cannot, even after you happen to switch lawyer(s), use such information against you owing to the attorney-client privilege.
5. Provide all the documents to your lawyer
The simple rule for every litigation is that you must handover all the concerned documents to your lawyer which are crucial for your case as it is important that these documents are a part of your annulment petition. Moreover, the document(s) that you provide your lawyer help them build your case based on substantial evidence, thereby giving the needed boost to your claims.
6. File the annulment petition and be actively involved
No, your role does not end with the filing of the case as you are required to be actively involved in the litigation through your lawyer. Your divorce/annulment lawyer may have questions that you need to answer as the case progresses, therefore, you must be involved in the litigation.
7. Get the annulment decree
Once you are able to prove your claim in the court, the court will pass the decree in your favour. Once, the decree of nullity is passed, you can obtain a copy of it from the court by paying the requisite fee.
We are now aware of the procedure of getting an annulment in India, if there are more queries in your mind, do contact our distinguished lawyers in Chandigarh.