MUMBAI: A couple, both jetsetting professionals in their 40s, recently got a divorce via mutual consent without placing a foot in the family court in Bandra. They were not in India when they filed for divorce, and when it was granted, the husband was stranded in Bali on a tourist visa and the wife in Dubai, where she works.
Next March they would have been a married couple for 20 years, but three years ago they began living separately, citing irreconcilable differences. During the Covid-19 pandemic and resultant lockdown, they decided to get moving on the dissolution of their marital ties.
The husband had been abroad on a two-month tourist visa. The visa was extended for over 10 months due to the pandemic flight restrictions and unprecedented contingency.
The Indian Consulate first rejected the husband’s application to attest his documents, but later, after several escalations, it played a role in even aiding the virtual dissolution.
The authorities in Bali made an exception and allowed him to attest his divorce petition and power of attorney documents to enable his lawyer in the city to file their petition in December last year.
Last month, they underwent virtual counselling and appeared before the court via video-conferencing to confirm their consent. Their lawyer Pipli Datta even sought and got them a waiver of the six month cooling off period after their joint petition was filed last December. She said they complied with the criteria laid down by the Supreme Court.
Since the couple have been separated for over two years and seven months, the waiting period of six months in cases of mutual consent divorce petitions would “only prolong their agony’”. Datta said the consulate may not be able to attest the husband’s documents once again for the final hearing six months later and, citing the new strain of the virus now spreading, she had said that unless the cooling off period was waived the case would be left in the lurch.
The family court waived the statutory six months and on its second hearing date declared them divorced, said the decree released a few days ago.