6 months cooling off period not mandatory – Supreme Court


Good news for all those who want to move ahead from a married relationship and make stronger decisions in life!

Couples seeking divorce on a mutual consent will not have to wait till six months period usually considered as a cooling period for couples. In a recent hearing, the Supreme Court mentioned that six months waiting is the only directory and not mandatory. Further, cooling off period extends the agony of a couple who do not want to stay together.

As reported by Mumbai Mirror, a division bench of Justices AK Goel and UU Lalit pronounced the judgment on Tuesday. The Supreme Court had been passing such orders until now, unlike the trial courts.

“The object of the cooling off period was to safeguard against a hurried decision if there was otherwise the possibility of differences being reconciled. The object was not to perpetuate a purposeless marriage or to prolong the agony of the parties when there was no chance of reconciliation. Though every effort has to be made to save a marriage, if there are no chances of a reunion, and there are chances of fresh rehabilitation, the Court should not be powerless in enabling the parties to have a better option,” the bench observed.

However, the bench mentioned that the trial court can waive off the cooling period only under the following conditions:

When the statutory period of six months (cooling off period) specified in Section 13B (2), and the statutory period of one year (mandatory separation period before filing a divorce petition by mutual consent) under Section 13B (1) was already over; all efforts at mediation/reconciliation had failed; the couple had genuinely settled their differences on other aspects like alimony, custody of child or any other pending issues between them; and in the event that the waiting period would only prolong their agony.

The bench passed the order in a case of a couple from New Delhi, who got married in 1994 had been living separately since 2008. But they filed for divorce only earlier this year. The trial court in New Delhi asked them to come back after six months following the cooling off period.

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