It all started with one matter through a common acquaintance, a case of divorce by mutual consent, the easier of the divorce options available in the family courts of India. Three years down the line, this figure has reached a hundred plus. There has been an increase not just in first time divorces but also in multiple divorces. The common misconception that divorces are confined to young couples, unsure of their life choices no longer holds true. Couples having spent decades together are seeking separation too. There was this one case, where a couple together for 45 years, having grandchildren, opted to divorce through mutual consent.

Divorce seems to have surpassed all barriers and is no more confined to a particular class, religion, sect, age and or region. Divorces are taking place anywhere from the first couple of weeks of marriage to decades of being married. Cause of divorce is not mere adultery or extra-marital relationships anymore; financial independence of partners, growing individual ambition and aspirations, consequent social factors has been increasingly influencing divorce. An unexpectedly large number of divorces are still due to parental interference. Moreover marriages have moved from the 23- 28 age bracket well into the 30’s. These young adults have been living independently, financially and otherwise and are unwilling to compromise or sacrifice, thus leading to divorce.

A young girl I have known all her life sought help for filing her divorce. This bright, independent, smart individual married an equally brilliant, attractive middle class boy who was also financially able and stable. Three years into the marriage, both of them decided to call it a day. There seemed no obvious reason, a candid conversation with her revealed her decision was driven by some logic and practicality, so to say. She probably had sensed it was not going well and divorce was simply inevitable. She simply took the decision to severe a relationship early than watch it erode over time. She sensed herself growing unhappy with un-addressed expectations from her marriage. Efforts for reconciliation by parents, well-wishers, counselors, and the judge were unfruitful. This young couple has left everyone baffled, why an otherwise happy couple opted to divorce.

Marriage no longer is a union based on a solid foundation that stands the test of time. There have been cases where young couples on honeymoon return separately and immediately seek legal advice for early separation. Much to their irritation our law and family courts mandate a one year separation and a cooling period of six months. It is a tough job to convince today’s generation the purpose of this mandatory provision.

A growing number of people now prefer a live in relationship over marriage, understandably so. Gone are those days where divorce was a stigma. Society has started accepting both divorce and a live in relationship as an acceptable norm. You will notice an increasing number of unmarried partners or cohabitants attend various social functions as a married couple would. Whether a live in relationship is better than marriage is debatable, but an increasing number of couples seem to be opting for a live in relationship over marriage.

Today, divorce is celebrated through freedom parties and distribution of sweet meats like any other auspicious day or landmark achievement. Clients bring sweet meats to office when the decree is granted. Our society is changing drastically; our values are undergoing a turbulent change. Approach to divorce is different, approach to life is different. May be this was inevitable. Today, failed marriages are as much a part of the society we live in as is a successful marriage. I remember this remark a young girl made, maybe rightly so “in our generation, a second marriage is likely to be more successful than the first marriage”. Today, that might just be true.

In all this mediation and or counseling is an unexplored, untapped potential. Sadly, there is shame attached to counseling. There are very few marriage counseling services in India. The family courts do provide these services but they aren’t solely for the purpose of mediation. A great many marriages are salvageable through mediation or counseling.