Two years after Swati Jha** got married her civil engineer husband told her that he had been transferred to the project location in the South. Even though she wasn’t working at the time, he told her that she couldn’t accompany him as this was a remote location. First his visits back home stopped, then the phone and email communication stopped. Finally he stopped replenishing the bank account; and that’s when she accepted that she had been deserted.
Desertion is one of the basic clauses under which an individual can file for a divorce in the Indian Legal System. Under the system, living away from your spouse and severing contact with them amounts to cruelty. As the courts have said in similar cases, in effect by ceasing to live together, the individual no longer cares for the deserted one and it is tantamount to renouncing their marital obligations and duties.
While the definition of desertion might be fluid, in the eyes of the law it can be classified as such if the husband/wife has been left on their own for a continuous period of over two years without a reasonable explanation. The word “continuous” is important, if your spouse returns at any given point during the two years or there is a resumption of marital duties/obligations at any point, they can contest the charge of desertion in the court. A key aspect of desertion to be kept in mind is that only the spouse that has been abandoned can approach the court for maintenance, not the spouse who has wilfully abandoned the marriage. If an individual finds themselves in a situation like Swati did, then they will have to provide proof of the act of desertion. They will have to prove that their spouse has forsaken the marriage without reasonable cause or consent.
At getmeadivorce.com we understand that this situation can be tricky. It lacks absolutes, making it harder to navigate. There is also a lot of information out there that is often confusing given the complex legal terminology. A conversation with our legal experts can help you simplify your situation; we are here to give you a basic understanding of whether you have sufficient grounds for filing for a divorce under this clause. A situation similar to this, but of a shorter time span should also be open to professional mediation. In today’s time, mostly both spouses have careers that can take them away from home for extended periods of time, resulting in an unfavourable situation that can lead to conflict. Involving a family counsellor can help you and your spouse adjust your expectations from one another and avoid a divorce altogether.
**Names have been changed to protect privacy.