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Couples put parents on divorce duty

Sunday, 28 April 2013 - 8:13am IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: dna

Family gets power of attorney to attend separation trials of their busy kids.
  • Sudhir Shetty dna

If parents blessing and solemnising marriages was the dictum in old days, now they also visit family courts or the high court to ensure that their children get the divorce they are seeking, while the youngsters are themselves busy pursuing careers abroad.

Legal practitioners at Mumbai’s family court say that, on an average, two out of every 10 cases filed have a parent, armed with a power of attorney, contesting the matter for either one of the spouses.

This trend, say lawyers, is more prevalent in cases where the couple is settled abroad or one spouse’s job makes it impossible to make frequent court visits, men in the merchant navy or pilots, for example.

A few months ago, Sharad (name changed) got a divorce decree from his wife, who stays in Mumbai, without having to ever visit the court for any hearings. Advocate Shilpa Joshi who appeared for him said, “The counselling sessions were held through video conference.

When it came to filing affidavits or replies in court, he would attest them in the Indian Consulate in USA and send it to his mother who was the power of attorney appointed to represent him in the case. She would then stand in court for him.”

Sharad was married for two years to Pooja (name changed) who works in an IT company in USA. While he had come down for the wedding, he refused to come for divorce citing work issues.

Last year, in the Bombay high court, parents of a woman, who hailed from Pune and was living separately in USA, were making the rounds of court to ensure that their daughter got a substantial amount of maintenance to sustain her standard of living in Boston.

The woman is a dentist with an MBA. She was studying hospital management and wanted her separated husband who, she claimed, earned over Rs5 lakh per month in an IT company to give her a monthly maintenance of Rs2 lakh per month.

Legal practitioners who have dealt with such cases say there are two reasons behind filing  for divorce in India and making parents who have solemnised the marriages in most cases to fight out the separation proceedings.

Advocate Paresh Desai said, “Separation laws abroad are very wise towards the woman and a heavy maintenance or alimony is given, which can lead to a big hole in the husband’s pocket if he is told to pay in dollars or pounds. Secondly, if a marriage is performed in India, divorce proceedings can be initiated here.”

Most of the time, the currency conversion rate is the reason behind parents having to undertake court visits in old age for their children. Joshi said, “In cases of mutual consent, it is easy to use the video-conferencing facility where the couple appears on screen and decree is passed after following procedure. Also, these well-to-do couples can afford a laptop, internet connection charges etc. Hence, they find it cheaper to do it that way rather than spend on air tickets.”

Talking about the emotional stress on parents, Dr Harish Shetty, psychiatrist, said, “Parents are devastated when they feel the shame. Those (parents) accepting a divorce support the decision of their children more for their own well being, going against societal norms.”

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