Cruelty: As A Ground For Divorce

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LegalKart Editor 04 min read 419 Views
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It is our endeavour to provide readers of our blog all the necessary information about common legal issues. We try to share details in the most simplified manner. In recent posts, we have sharing details about divorce, why people go for it (various reasons of divorce), types of divorce, processes that are to be followed, and so on. While people marry out of their own wish in an expectation of a bright and happy life, they end their broken marriage out of compulsion. Reasons of broken marriages are many – Ego clashes, Cruelty or abuse (physical or mental or sexual), irreconcilable difference of opinion, financial problems, family issues, extra marital affair, religion conversion, unsound mind or communicable disease, etc.


In this post, we are going to share details about one of the most common issues that couple face in a troubled marriage – cruelty – and how it becomes a ground for divorce.


It is important to note here that we are explaining the details considering the Hindu religion as covered by the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955. However, different religions may have slightly different rules of dealing with trouble marriages. Hence, it is important to consult a qualified divorce lawyer for taking proper guidance on the matter.


What is cruelty?


While there is no clear definition of cruelty mentioned in the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, there have been various judgements passed by the honourable Supreme Court of India, that are used to define cruelty. These judgements can be taken into consideration when one of the partners in a troubled marriage considers for filing a petition keeping cruelty as a ground for divorce.


In general sense, cruelty is a form of violent behaviour exhibited by an individual towards his or her spouse that potentially disturbs her mental and emotional peace or harms her physically and sexually. As mentioned above there is no comprehensive definition available to denote such a behaviour in the court of law. However, once the conduct of an individual goes beyond reasonable limits and creates unpleasant living conditions for his or her spouse, the family court may treat the behaviour as cruelty and consider it as a ground for divorce.


What are the forms of behaviour that can be considered as cruelty?


As we mentioned briefly above, cruelty can broadly be divided in three types – physical, mental and sexual. Let us have a closer look to understand more.


  • Physical cruelty – when an individual repeatedly exhibits violent and outrageous behaviour towards his or her spouse, it is called as physical cruelty. This is also commonly known as domestic violence. Sometimes, not only the individual but his or her family members also behave in a violent manner to overpower the spouse and show their supremacy or fulfil their ego. Such violent behaviours can lead to severe bodily injuries and sometimes even death to the affected person. Family courts view this type of behaviour as an extremely serious issue. However, petty arguments every now and then, between husband and wife or their respective family members does not tantamount to physical cruelty.


  • Mental cruelty – This is another form of behaviour where an individual is not violent towards his or her spouse. However, the individual repeatedly uses abusive language for ill treating and humiliating his or her spouse either in front of the family members or friends. Another form of this type that can be considered as mental cruelty is:
    • when an individual shouts or yells or taunts his or her spouse unnecessarily on petty family matters.
    • when an individual restricts the freedom of his or her spouse.
    • not disclosing details of serious disease or sexual illness prior to marriage.


Such behaviours mostly do not lead to any physical injuries but are extremely demoralising, insulting and demeaning for the suffering spouse. Hence, the family court may consider such behaviours as a form of cruelty and make it a ground for divorce.


  • Sexual cruelty – This is another behavioural pattern where, intentionally and repeatedly:
    • the individual denies having sex or physical relationship with the spouse
    • the individual establishes extra marital relationship outside of his or her marriage
    • the individual has sex with the spouse without consent (nowadays, also called as marital rape)
    • the individual engages in extreme unnatural sexual behaviours with the spouse


Such behaviours off late have been viewed as very serious by the court of law, as they not have the potential to cause permanent physical damage or severe injury to private parts of the affected spouse but can also lead to mental health issues like depression and post-traumatic stress.


Such type of behaviours often remains unreported especially in the Indian society where marriage is considered as a sacred institution. Several studies have shown, lack of awareness, as one of the major reasons. However, with the passage of time, things are changing and the legal fraternity is working towards strengthening the laws to address such issues, once reported, properly and timely.


Why a divorce lawyer is required?


There is a common saying – marriages are made in heaven. People marry to live a better life but knowingly or unknowingly end up living in bitter relationships. The only solution remains for such troubled marriages is divorce, especially when the sole reason is cruelty. It is only prudent to get professional help from a competent and knowledgeable divorce lawyer who will help you for getting the broken marriage dissolved in family courts within the boundaries of law.


If you are living a troubled married life and considering to file for a divorce, connect with a qualified divorce lawyer right away on the LegalKart platform.

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