The Karnataka High Court has held that just because an estranged couple are residing under the same roof, a court cannot reject their plea seeking seeking dissolution of marriage by mutual consent, on this ground alone.
The estranged couple, acting as petitioners, filed a Petition seeking a decree of dissolution of their marriage based on mutual consent. They presented certain grounds to support their claim. The case was referred to Mediation, and on January 2, 2023, a report was submitted to the court indicating a settlement had been reached. Additionally, the parties submitted a Compromise Petition reflecting the terms of the settlement reached during the conciliation process.
However, the learned Judge of the Family Court in Bengaluru dismissed the request for dissolution of the marriage solely on the basis that the spouses continue to reside in the same household.
The counsel representing the Petitioners raised objections to the impugned order, arguing that in cases such as this, the fact that the parties reside under the same roof is of minimal significance, except in determining territorial jurisdiction. The counsel contends that the order made by the court, based solely on the cohabitation of the spouses, is flawed in its reasoning and perplexing to the Court. The counsel suggests that this fact could potentially demonstrate the amicable behavior of the spouses despite their ongoing disputes.
The Court, after careful consideration, has determined that the mere fact of an estranged couple residing under the same roof cannot be used as a sole ground for rejecting their plea for dissolution of marriage by mutual consent. The Court further emphasized that such a reasoning constitutes a significant error evident on the face of the record.
The Court acknowledged that the fact of cohabitation, despite marital discord, may potentially indicate the spouses’ commitment to maintaining a civil and respectful environment within the household. This observation suggests that the behavior of the spouses, in the midst of their disagreements, may demonstrate a positive cultural attitude and values.
In light of the above, the Court found the reasoning provided by the lower court in denying relief to the parties to be erroneous and of substantial consequence.