The Supreme Court has changed a crucial rule for Hindu couples looking to obtain a divorce. The SC has now said that individual judges can decide if the six-month cooling off period should be waived.

Earlier, it was mandatory for couples to wait for six months after they apply for divorce.

“Though every effort has to be made to save a marriage, if there are no chances of reunion and there are chances of fresh rehabilitation, the court should not be powerless in enabling the parties to have a better option,” the apex court said.

What is the current law?

Under the Hindu Marriage Act, a couple has to prove 12 months of separation, and a six-month cooling off period to allow for reconciliation.

The verdict came in response to a Delhi couple who had asked for the six-month waiting period to be waived. They had been living separately for eight years and knew they could not reconcile

“The period mentioned in Section 13B(2) is not mandatory but directory, it will be open to the Court to exercise its discretion in the facts and circumstances of each case where there is no possibility of parties resuming cohabitation and there are chances of alternative rehabilitation,” the bench of judges Adarsh Goel and UU Lalit said.

If the couple has genuinely settled their differences, including alimony and child custody, then it is alright if the cooling off period is waived, said the court.

So there you have it — a respite for couples who have waited long enough to obtain a divorce. Especially as divorce rates are increasing in the country. The current rate of divorce is 13 divorces per 1000 marriages.

The divorce rate is increasing in urban areas. For example, from 2003 to 2014, the number of divorces in Kolkata increased 350 per cent.

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