More couples seek divorce by mutual consent, few want to reconcile

While the number of divorce petitions filed by mutual consent has risen by 50 per cent in the last 10 years in the Pune District Family Court, the percentage of reconciliation after mutual consent divorces continues to be little.

The figures provided by the Family Court show that the number of divorce petitions by mutual consent filed in 2002 was 320. In 2011, this rose to 713. "Most of the mutual consent petitions are filed by couples who have been married for less than three years," said a family court official. "It is alarming trend chances of reconciliation for such couples are little," said Rajendra Tatar, counselor of family court.

Tatar's apprehension is reflected in a study Importance of Counselling in Family Courts carried out by counsellor Smita Joshi under the guidance of Mukund Sarda, dean of Bharati Vidyapeeth New Law College. The study shows that the number of couples who decided to reconcile to withdraw their divorce petitions and stay together has increased from an average of 153 between 2002 and 2006 to 176 between 2007 and 2011. "However, the percentage of couples reconciling after mutual consent is hardly two to three as against those filing for divorce on various other grounds is more than 15 per cent," said Joshi. All divorce petitions are referred to counsellors, who are employees of the law and judiciary department. A counsellor's report is mandatory before the court grants or rejects a divorce.

Sarda said the recent amendment to the Family Court Act, 1984, to do away with the six-month 'cooling-off' period will worsen matters. "This period is necessary for couples to think over their decision. Instead of doing away with it, reducing it to two or three months or leaving it to the discretion of the judge would be better," Sarda said.

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