Legal Terminologies under Matrimonial Law


  • MARRIAGE: Marriage refers to the legally sanctioned union of a couple as spouses based on customs which are recognized by the society. Marriage leads to the creation of new legal rights and duties of both the parties. In India, marriage is governed by the different personal laws in India and the Special Marriage Act, 1954


  • DIVORCE: A divorce is the legal termination of marriage by a Court of competent authority. In India, divorce is governed by the different personal laws of the parties. Its governed by Section 13 of the Hindu Marriage Act and sec 27 of the Special Marriages Act.


  • JUDICIAL SEPARATION: Judicial separation is a phase of marriage in which the husband and wife are directed by court to live separately but not granted divorce. Judicial separation is governed by Sec 10 of the Hindu Marriage Act and Sec 23 of the Special Marriages Act. E.g. Mr. and Mrs. Singh are legally married. However, Mr Singh treats his wife cruelly. Consequently, she moves court seeking a remedy and the court orders for judicial separation. Mr and Mrs Singh will be allowed to live separately but their marriage is not dissolved i.e. they haven’t been granted divorce.


  • DOMESTIC VIOLENCE: Domestic violence refers to the act or threat of the spouse or any relative (male or female) of a physical, mental or emotional nature which causes harm to the health, safety, limb or well-being of the wife. Sec 3 of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 defines domestic violence.


  • CRUELTY: Cruelty refers to the unjust conduct by a spouse so as to cause danger to life, limb or health of the other or as to give rise to a reasonable apprehension of such a danger. Cruelty can be both physical or mental. It’s one of the grounds for divorce mentioned in Sec 13 of the Hindu Marriage Act.


  • MAINTENANCE: Maintenance refers to the entitlement to food, clothing and shelter (usually in the form of money) that a spouse who is unable to maintain himself/herself is entitled to, by the other in case of a divorce. It’s governed by Sec 18 of the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act and Section 37 of The Special Marriage Act, 1954.



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