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"Cooling Off" Period Waived in Mumbai Divorce

It is always interesting to read about divorce laws in other countries, as they often differ greatly from those in the United States. In Mumbai, for example, there used to be a mandatory six-month “cooling off” period in a mutual consent divorce before that divorce could be finalized. Two months ago, however, the Mumbai Supreme Court ruled that the six-month wait is not mandatory and set out criteria to be used by the courts in waiving the requirement. After SC order, divorce ‘cooling period’ waived, by Swati Deshpande, economictimes.com, November 29, 2017.

A Mumbai couple was recently granted what is thought to be the first waiver of the “cooling off” period. In that case, the parties had been married for 30 years, but separated since 2008. In her request for a waiver, the wife, who is undergoing cancer treatment, “cited her health issues to say that she did not wish to continue her trauma by prolonging the wait for a decree in a ‘dead marriage.’” Advocates of this waiver are excited that this recent ruling will pave the way for others. One lawyer noted that “[m]aking couples stick to a statutory six-month waiting period before a final decree would be meaningless when they can demonstrate that marriage is truly over.”

It should be noted that, in Georgia, a divorce cannot be finalized in less than 30 days. But this time frame is not a waiting or cooling off period. Rather, it is the amount of time the Respondent has to file an Answer and Counterclaim to the divorce and, thus, the amount of time necessary to make sure both parties get their positions on the record. The “cooling off” period in Mumbai essentially serves to make sure the parties want to go through with the divorce.  However, in a situation such as that described in the article, where the parties have been separated for years, this “cooling off” period is unnecessary. While it is unlikely that it will be waived in every case, there are likely to be more waivers granted in the future which will create precedent in the court system and help parties and attorneys know what they can expect in divorce cases.

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