April 14, 2020 Section of Litigation

Recognition of Foreign Divorce Judgments in India

It’s not unusual for a man and a woman to be husband and wife in one jurisdiction but treated as divorced in another.

By Amrita Thakore

Perhaps, there is no better way of describing the mess of recognizing foreign divorce judgments in India than this observation made by the Supreme Court of India: “Principles governing matters within the divorce jurisdiction are so conflicting in the different countries that not unoften a man and a woman are husband and wife in one jurisdiction but treated as divorced in another jurisdiction.” Smt. Satya v. Shri Teja Singh, 1975 (1) SCC 120 (India).

Numerous cases arise in which Indian nationals, who while residing outside of India may have formalized their marriage under Indian law, seek a legal separation or divorce in a foreign court. Such cases may result in a decree of divorce by which the parties are treated as divorced in the foreign jurisdiction. Recognition of such divorce decrees in India is a common area of concern, as nonrecognition of the divorce decree in India would essentially mean that the parties are still married under Indian law. This could result in legal complications in regard to a remarriage, bigamy, inheritance, etc. 

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