We agree to disagree. More and more couples in the city are now doing the rounds of the court — within just a few years of exchanging vows to live the rest of their lives together — driven by the mutual agreement to lead separate lives.
The city, consequently, has just crossed a threshold — the number of mutual-consent divorce cases now in court has overtaken the combined number of suits for separation filed on other grounds like cruelty, desertion and dowry .
Take the case of Abir and Mamata Kar (both names changed on request) of Kasba. Married in 1986, they had a son a year later. The couple, however, started drifting apart after the birth of their child and by the time he was eight, things had soured enough for the families to try and force a reconciliation. All patch-up bids failed and the Kars decided to split up before things got worse. They agreed that their son would stay with Mamata but Abir would have the right to visit him. It was also agreed that Abir would pay a fixed sum for his son’s education and upkeep.
So, the two turned up in court with their case sewn up in every respect.
In such cases, the court does try one last attempt at reconciliation, said lawyers. “But when that attempt, too, fails, divorces of this nature are usually attained without any of the mess associated with suits that are contested,” observed Prabir Basu, an Alipore Court advocate
Calcutta High Court alone saw 1,869 divorce suits in 2002 and 2003 (till June). Of them, 60 per cent — a little higher than the average — are mutual-consent cases, say officials. Lawyers say the trend is explained by the fact that more and more women are now financially independent, so alimony is no longer a stumbling block. So, the legalisation of separation is swift and smooth.
Anirban and Sayantani Majumdar (names changed), for example. Married in 1996, they discovered within a few months that they were not made for each other. They stayed separately for some years and then agreed to part permanently. They went to court, where Sayantani said she would not demand any compensation or alimony. They had already divided up the “gifts and articles” received during their marriage, they told the court. All they wanted was a divorce.
“Some of them come together to go separate ways,” said advocate Pradip Ray, referring to bank colleagues Arindam and Kuheli, who fell in love, married and then were in court within months.
“They even asked each other in court, one last time, whether they were going wrong,” recounted Ray.
“The trend is really changing very fast,” said Sujit Mitra of the high court. “There are couples who come and tell us they can do anything but wash dirty linen in public to convince the court that they can’t live together,” he added.