Divorce allows married couples the legal right to end their marriage. India's divorce can be mutual or contested, depending on the circumstances. In a contested marriage, the divorce is contested by one of the parties. This article is intended to give a detailed understanding of the various stages in a contested Indian divorce case.

How to file a Petition?

Filing a divorce petition is the first step in a contested case. The spouse who wants to divorce must submit a written request to the family court stating their grounds. In India, the grounds for divorce are governed by various laws, such as the Hindu Marriage Act or Special Marriage Act. For Christians, the Divorce Act is also applicable. Cruelty, adultery, and desertion are the most common grounds for divorce.

Service of Summons

The court will then issue the other spouse a summons (a divorce petition). The summons informs the respondent of the divorce proceedings, and they must appear in court on a certain date. The summons can be served by a process server for the court or registered mail. To ensure legal notification, the respondent must acknowledge receiving the summons.

Counterclaim and Response

The respondent is given a certain time (usually 30 calendar days) after receiving the summons to submit their response to a divorce petition. The respondent can accept or reject the grounds of divorce in their response. The respondent can file a counterclaim if they wish to contest the divorce. They will need to state their grounds or deny the petitioner's claims. The court will treat the counterclaim as a separate application.

Evidence and Discovery

Both parties must gather evidence to support their claims during the discovery stage. Obtaining documents, records, and other information relevant to the marriage is important. This may include financial statements, deeds of property, bank statements, and any other evidence that supports the grounds for divorce. Each party is entitled to examine and request the evidence the other provides.

Interim Applications

During a contested divorce, either party can file an interim application to seek temporary protection or relief until the final judgment. Interim applications are often filed for temporary custody, visitation, maintenance/alimony, or possession of the marital residence. The court will hear these applications and make interim orders based on their merits.

Mediation & Counseling

The court can refer parties to counseling or mediation sessions to encourage reconciliation and avoid a long court battle. These sessions are facilitated by professionals who help couples explore their options to resolve their differences and reach a mutually acceptable settlement. Mediation and counseling effectively resolve disputes, especially if children are involved.

Trial and Final Arguments

The case will proceed to trial if the mediation or counseling fails. Both parties will present evidence, witnesses, and arguments to support their claims at the trial. The court will carefully examine the witnesses and evaluate the evidence. It will also listen to the arguments made by each legal counsel. The court will base its decision on the evidence, laws, and precedents.

Judgment and Decree

The court renders its verdict after considering all evidence and arguments. The court can grant or reject the divorce petition. The court will then issue a divorce order, which officially dissolves the marriage if the divorce is granted. The divorce decree will address other pertinent issues, such as child custody and alimony. The decree is binding on both parties, and any non-compliance could lead to legal consequences.

Revisions and Appeals

If a court decision is unacceptable to either party, the other party can appeal the case to a higher-level court within a certain period. The appellate court will review the case, and it may confirm, modify or reverse the lower court's decision. Parties may also request revisions or a review of the judgment on specific grounds such as new evidence, procedural errors, or other reasons. The appellate process is an additional layer of legal proceedings that can prolong the divorce case.

Implementation and Execution

The parties must adhere to the terms of the divorce decree once it is finalized. It includes paying child support or alimony as ordered and following the custody agreement. If you do not comply with the divorce decree, you may be charged with contempt of court and face legal consequences. Both parties must ensure that the divorce decree is implemented and executed smoothly.


In India, divorces that are contested go through several stages of divorce case. There are several steps from filing the petition until the divorce decree is executed. The process is complex, lengthy, and emotionally demanding for all parties. For individuals going through a contested divorce, it's best to consult with an experienced family lawyer. They can offer legal advice and representation during the entire process. Understanding the stages in a contested case can assist individuals in navigating the process and making informed choices that protect their rights and interest.